The political history of the Commonwealth of Virginia has the forceful fingerprints of Omega Men.
In 1925, Brother William Ferguson Reid was born in the Jackson Ward section of downtown Richmond, Virginia. His parents owned a house on “Quality Row” (110 West Leigh Street), beside Armstead and Maggie Walker. Accordingly, because of Mrs. Walker’s international fame, Brother Reid was accustomed to seeing the likes of Brother Carter G. Woodson, Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. DuBois and other national Black leaders.
After graduation from Virginia Union University, Brother Reid earned his medical degree from Howard University Medical School.
In 1956, along with Brother Johnny Brooks and Dr. William Thornton, Brother Reid co-founded the Richmond Crusade for Voters civic organization to increase voter participation within the Black community in Richmond. The Crusade focused on 28 political precincts, and was responsible for exponentially raising the number of Black voters. As a result, many African Americans were registered to vote long before passage of the federal 1965 Voting Rights Act.
In 1968, Brother Reid won election to the House of Delegates, within the Virginia General Assembly, becoming the first elected Black man since Reconstruction. His election paved the political way for Brother L. Douglas Wilder’s election to the Virginia Senate in 1969.
The civic and political work of Brother Reid and the Crusade for Voters changed the “at-large” electoral system in Richmond to a “district” one, resulting in the first Black-majority City Council, and the city’s first Black mayor in 1977.
In 2015, at 90 years young, Brother Reid founded the “90 for 90 Campaign” to register new voters in 90 precincts around Virginia, and recruit candidates to run for political office.
Brother Reid has almost single-handedly transformed the political landscape in the Commonwealth of Virginia and exemplified a lifelong enthusiasm for noble pursuits.
The Richmond Crusade for Voters, Kimberly Matthews
Make it a great week Brothers. Be noble!
3rd District History and Archives Committee
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