Don Scott Sworn In As First Black Speaker Of Virginia House

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Don Scott was inducted as Virginia’s first Black Speaker of the House of Delegates on Wednesday.

“My first immediate emotion is just gratitude, very grateful,” Scott said Wednesday in his speech after being sworn in. “I know this is God’s favor. I know this is God’s grace, which is undeserved favor, and I’m grateful.”

It’s the first time there’s been a Black speaker in the House’s 400-year-plus history. Scott was unanimously voted for speaker after Democrats won control of the Virginia legislature in 2023.

His story isn’t without battles, though. In 1994, when Scott was in his third year of law school, he was arrested on a drug charge and served eight years in prison.

“Damaged goods can sometimes turn out to be OK,” Scott said on “CBS Mornings” Wednesday. “And we’re a lot more interesting than the people who followed all the rules and did everything perfect.”

After his release, he opened his own law firm and is now a partner at Breit Biniazan Trial Lawyers. He was elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates in 2019.

He became emotional Wednesday during his speech as he thanked several people, including his mother, who raised six children by herself, and his wife, who Scott said saw him differently than the world saw him. “She looked at me and saw her aspiration, her husband, a friend, a confidant,” Scott said. “Thank you. Thank you. When I was at my lowest, you looked at me. And you saw me exactly where I’m standing right now. Thank you.”

Scott has promised to work on protecting abortion rights, gay marriage, raising the minimum wage and restoring voting rights for felons who have fulfilled their penalties, according to Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Scott was met with several standing ovations Wednesday as he promised to work with both Republicans and Democrats on key issues and allow debate and “promote civility” as best he can.

“I would just not be the speaker to the Democrats, and I will not just be the opponent of the Republicans, but I will be the speaker of the House of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Heather Williams, president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, said in a statement that Scott’s induction is a “watershed moment” for the state.

“The unanimous support from his colleagues speaks volumes about his character, work ethic, and the respect he’s garnered as minority leader,” Williams said. “I am confident that Speaker Scott will guide the Virginia House of Delegates with distinction as they address pressing issues for Virginians, from protecting abortion access to raising the minimum wage.”

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