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Facts & Faith Fridays celebrates Women’s History Month with female legislators from Virginia

Mar 21, 2023

Delores McQuinn, Jennifer McLellan and Abigail Spanberger Va. Del. Delores McQuinn, U.S. Rep. Jennifer McClellan and U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger joined Massey Cancer Center’s Facts & Faith Fridays.

This Women’s History Month, VCU Massey Cancer Center welcomed three female legislators from Virginia to Facts & Faith Fridays. The series’ co-founders Rudene Mercer Haynes, J.D., Rev. F. Todd Gray and Robert A. Winn, M.D., director of Massey, were joined by Va. Del. Delores McQuinn, U.S. Rep. Jennifer McClellan and U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who shared their paths to office and their current areas of legislative focus.

McQuinn gave updates from Virginia’s latest General Assembly session which adjourned on Feb. 25. In addition to supporting bills that seek to protect Virginia renters and homeowners, help with medical debt and prescription drug costs, and protect public transportation service vehicle operators, McQuinn spoke of a bill she collaborated on with Winn to ensure coverage for colorectal cancer screening.

“This bill would prevent colorectal cancer patients from being billed later on for the testing and screening they need as they go forward,” said McQuinn, noting that while this General Assembly session did not pass th4e bill, she would be bringing it back next year. 

Arnethea Sutton, Ph.D., a member of Massey’s Cancer Prevention and Control research program, then introduced Spanberger and McLellan to join McQuinn for a conversation about their backgrounds and legislative interests.

Watch the webinar featuring female legislators from Virginia on their paths to office and areas of legislative focus.

Asked about their path to politics in the context of Women’s History Month, the three women each claimed an interest in public service from childhood. Spanberger recalled canvassing door to door with her mother, and McQuinn said her story of civic involvement started in the church.

“My family and the community at large of African American men and women were so instrumental in helping me to be elevated to these places of prominence, and I’m humbled because of it,” said McQuinn.

Spanberger spoke passionately about her work on the House Committee on Agriculture, saying of the question of food security, “A hungry kid cannot learn.” Spanberger is co-leading a piece of bipartisan legislation, the “Keep Kids Fed Act,” that would extend increased reimbursements for school meal programs.

McLellan reflected on the meaning of her status as the first Black woman elected to Congress from Virginia. “It blows my mind that we’re still having firsts in 2023, but given my own family history, to be the first from the birthplace of American democracy but also the birthplace of American slavery, and the former capital of the confederacy, sometimes I have to pinch myself that it’s real,” she said.

“I feel a responsibility that I’m not the last but that I am supporting other women of color and particularly Black women who are currently in office or who want to be in office, and I’m bringing up the next generation. I’m very conscious of being a role model.”

To see the upcoming schedule and register for future Facts & Faith Fridays webinars, visit our website.

Written by: Annie Harris

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