Introduction and Background
Prior to the formation of Virginia Organizing, formerly known as the Virginia Organizing Project (VOP), no statewide organization existed in Virginia to encourage the active participation and empowerment of many different groups of people on a variety of issues. As government policy and control shifted dramatically from the federal to the state and local levels, it became clear to Virginia Organizing’s founders that statewide organizing work was needed.
Virginia Organizing, founded in August 1995, is a statewide grassroots organization dedicated to challenging injustice by empowering people in local communities to address issues that affect the quality of their lives. Virginia Organizing especially encourages the participation of those who have traditionally had little or no voice in our society. By building relationships with diverse individuals and groups throughout Virginia, Virginia Organizing enhances their ability to work together at a statewide level, democratically and non-violently, for change.
The overall purpose of Virginia Organizing is to create a strong political force for long-term change which has a diverse grassroots base and includes people who have not been active before.
Virginia Organizing Milestones
VOP supports adding sexual orientation and gender to existing Virginia hate crime laws in the 1998 General Assembly. VOP sponsors workshops on understanding the economy and on community development finance. VOP is encouraged by living wage campaigns in Alexandria and initiates campaigns in Charlottesville and at the University of Virginia. The Lee County Chapter challenges the county jury selection process, successfully implementing a random selection process; for the first time, an African-American serves as jury commissioner. The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond sets up a Community Development Advisory Council to deal with issues concerning low-income and working class people.