LOUISA, Va. (WVIR) - While neither protests nor police shootings have sparked tensions in Louisa, the county is taking a proactive step as racial divides erupt across Virginia: founding a new committee to promote equality. The “Louisa Strong for Unity Committee,” as it is informally known, is bringing together a diverse group from different backgrounds to better race relations in the community.
Louisa County Board of Supervisors Chair Bob Babyok says the county has not seen any “flashpoint,” events like police shootings, violent crackdowns of protests, or other events that would spark controversy. That’s part of why county leadership wants to take action now.
“We have to face the reality a day of what has what has happened over the period of this last 50 years were very little progress has been almost embarrassingly little progress has been made,” Babyok said. “That’s what makes this. i think even more important, because, again, it’s getting to what’s covered beneath the surface.”
The 12 person group is made up of six white and six black members. It includes representatives from the county government and community, from the leadership of the NAACP in Louisa to social program administrators, the county sheriff, educators and more.
“They’re all people that have influence within our community,” Babyok explained “Some people have a different sphere of influence, butcollectively we feel we’ve got a really good representative body for the whole county.”
Babyok explained that he knows it can be uncomfortable to talk about racial issues. However, he says overcoming that discomfort is the first step towards making progress.
“I’ve always looked at these things through a prism of my upbringing. I think a lot of people are are stuck in that mantra because they don’t really know,” he said.
Exactly what the group will tackle has yet to be determined. A few areas that are likely to be brought up are diversifying the county’s police force, making a decision about what to do with the confederate monument in front of the county courthouse, and the portrait of Robert E. Lee inside the building.