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L. Douglass Wilder: Mixed-Race 'Trailblazer'

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    Lawrence Douglas Wilder: The Trailblazer MGM-Mixed / Mixed-Race Governor of VA. [Lawrence
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 28, 2006
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      Lawrence Douglas Wilder: 

      The 'Trailblazer'
      MGM-Mixed /

      Mixed-Race Governor of VA.

      Lawrence Douglas Wilder

      When elected as governor of Virginia (VA) in 1989,
      L. Douglas Wilder became the first person of the
      largely Multi-Racial Ethnic group – that is currently
      referred to under the term of
      African-American  to
      be elected Governor of any any state in the U.S.A.

      He has also served as State Senator
      and Lieutenant Governor of Virginia .

      A native of Richmond , Wilder has been recognized
      throughout his career as an individual who has
      skillfully eased tensions between the races.

      The Biography of

      L. Douglas Wilder:

      Born to Robert and Beulah Wilder on January 17, 1931,
      in Richmond , Virginia , Lawrence Douglas Wilder, the
      MGM-Mixed / Mixed-Race grandson of slaves,
      was named after abolitionist-orator Frederick
      Douglass and poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar.

      Growing up in the Church Hill section of Richmond along
      with six sisters and a brother, he attended George Mason
      Elementary School and Armstrong High School .

      In 1951, Wilder graduated from Virginia Union
      University in Richmond with a B.S. degree in
      chemistry, whereupon he served in the U.S. Army.

      While serving in Korea , he received the
      Bronze Star for Heroism in ground combat for
      rescuing GIs and for capturing enemy troops.

      Returning to Virginia , Wilder worked as a
      Chemist for the state medical examiner's office.

      When he decided to take advantage of the GI Bill to study
      law, he had to leave the state, because Virginia barred
      "blacks" from attending its law schools at the time.

      In 1959, he graduated from Howard University School
      of Law in Washington , D.C.with a Juris Doctor degree.

      After passing the bar, he established the law firm which

      came to be known as Wilder, Gregory and Associated -
      one of the few minority-owed businesses in Virginia - and
      went on to develop a reputation as a top criminal trial lawyer.

      In 1969, Wilder entered politics, running in a special, at-
      large election for a vacated state Senate seat in Richmond .

      L. Douglas Wilder

      By winning that election, he became the first person
      of the largely Multi-Racial Ethnic group currently
      referred to as `
      African-American' to serve as a
      State Senator in Virginia -- since Reconstruction.

      During his five terms in the Virginia Senate,
      he was consistently recognized as one
      of the most effective legislators.

      He chaired committees on transportation, rehabilitation
      and social services; privileges and elections; the
      Virginia Advisory Legislative Council; and
      the Democratic Steering Committee.

      In addition, he successfully sponsored
      Virginia 's first drug-paraphernalia law
      and the compulsory-school-attendance law.

      He brought sickle-cell anemia victims into the state
      care coverage and toughed the penalties for capital
      murderers by requiring more time served, as well
      as for those who escaped from prison.

      He sponsored many of Virginia 's housing laws, including
      the creation of the authority to provide low and moderate
      income housing, as well as the Virginia Fair Housing Law.

      Additionally, for eight years, he persisted until
      Virginia declared a holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr.

      (The bill had been vetoed twice by former
      governors and never supported any of them.)

      Wilder made history again in 1985 by being elected as
      Virginia 's first
      African-American Lieutenant Governor.

      During his four-year, he chaired the Democratic
      Lieutenant Governor's Association and the
      Drug Interdiction Task Force of the National
      Democratic Conference of Lieutenant Governors.

      In addition, he continued to fight
      for the repeal of regressive-taxes.

      On January 13, 1990, a milestone was achieved
      when Virginia 's 66th Governor, Lawrence Douglas
      Wilder, was sworn in as the first elected
      African-American Governor in U.S. history.

      What made the event all the more meaningful was
      that he was elected in Virginia , a state that was the
      former capitol of the Confederacy and that once
      denied him admission to its all-white schools.

      In endorsing his candidacy, The Washington Post,
      called him "an uncommon figure in contemporary
      politics because he has not ridden the media to his
      present position, but has worked his way up."

      During Governor Wilder's four years in office ( Virginia
      law precludes a Governor from succeeding himself), his
      Administration achieved numerous successes, among them: 

      • Nationally-recognized leadership in fiscal management,
        with Virginia ranked by Financial World magazine as
         the Nation's best-managed state, two years in a row.

      • Despite a national recession and unprecedented defense
        spending cutbacks, Governor Wilder balanced the state's
        budgets without tax increases and without jeopardizing
        the state's triple-A rating, by paring the size of
        government without cutting essential services.

      • He was given consistent high marks for state
        management by several national organizations
        ranking the performance of governors.

      • Anti-crime initiatives, a comprehensive package of
        legislation which included the one-gun-per-month
        handgun purchase limit laws, one of the strictest
        handgun control laws in the Nation.

      • Programs to make Virginia 's government work for
        its people, by opening up the procurement process,
        recruiting more women and minorities to public
        service, and reducing levels of the Commonwealth's
        bureaucracy through "Project Streamline."

      Virginia University named its new Library the
      L. Douglas Wilder Learning Resource Center.
      Norfolk State University named its new Performing
      Arts Center the L. Douglas Wilder Performing
      Arts Center and Hampton University has
      named its new men's dormitory for him.
      A new middle school in the Richmond
      area will also bear his name.

      Finding the fiscal problems and social injustice of
      this great nation intolerable, Wilder declared
      for the presidency on September 13, 1991.

      He strongly felt that a message of fiscal
      prudence, racial healing and caring for
      people had to be delivered to America .

      But, on January 8, 1993, citing his responsibilities
      as Governor to be paramount, Wilder withdrew from
      the race to re-devote all of this attention and
      energies to the Commonwealth of Virginia .

      Wilder has three children - Lynn Diana, an
      artist; Lawrence, Jr., a lawyer; and Loren
      Wilder-James, a market and finance analyst.

      He is currently associated with
      Commonwealth University serving as a
      Distinguished Professor at the Center for Public
      Policy as well as the Department of Political Science.

      He lectures on the national circuit and has a
      weekly Radio talk show and writes as a columnist.

      Copyright © 2003 U.Va. Center for Politics. 



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