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NAACP pres. objects to Redistricting Task Force member

Isle of Wight NAACP President Valerie Butler has objected to the appointment of Volpe Boykin on the county’s 2021 redistricting task force.

Isle of Wight’s Board of Supervisors named the task force’s seven members — one from each of the county’s five voting districts and two at-large — in a single vote Sept. 2 rather than voting separately on individual nominees. Boykin, who serves as president of the Southern and Central Isle of Wight Citizens Group, will represent the Carrsville District.

When the Board voted to form the advisory group at its Aug. 19 meeting, Board Chairman Dick Grice said it was his “personal opinion” that if a person was associated or an officer in one of the county’s organizations, “that person probably shouldn’t sit on this task force.”

“We want this committee as representative of the general population as we can,” he’d said.

But on Sept. 2, he ultimately voted with the other Board members to approve the slate of seven nominees, which included Boykin.

“I attended your last meeting and you agreed that you would not have anyone in leadership of organizations to serve on this group,” Butler wrote in a Sept. 8 email to the Board.

According to Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson, there was no official prohibition or disqualification for members of civic organizations serving on the task force. Hardy District Supervisor Rudolph Jefferson, who also serves as the NAACP’s vice president, had, in fact, argued at the August meeting that since redistricting would be a time-consuming process, if the Board found someone willing to serve on the task force, membership in a civic group shouldn’t necessarily be a disqualifier.

“If that’s the right person, then we need to put that person on,” Jefferson had said.

But Butler argued Boykin is not “the right person” for a task force charged with redrawing the county’s voting districts in a manner that, per state and federal voting rights laws, must not dilute the voting power of minorities.

Boykin, she argues, has a history of speaking out “against everything that is inclusive.”

Last year, when members of Isle of Wight’s Black community campaigned to remove the county’s Confederate monument, Boykin called the nationwide push to remove such statues part of a “Marxist agenda.” He was then named to another county task force charged with deciding the statue’s fate, and ultimately offered to have it moved to his private property, where it now stands.

Earlier this year, he and every other member of his citizens group voted unanimously to issue a statement opposing Critical Race Theory and “all related tenets thereof” being “taught or suggested to either students or staff” in Isle of Wight County’s school system.

Critical Race Theory, as previously reported, argues American law and institutions have perpetuated social, economic and political inequalities among minority groups. Members of Boykin’s citizens group have spoken against Isle of Wight County Schools equity and inclusion initiatives at several recent school board meetings, equating them with Critical Race Theory.

Boykin, providing a response to The Smithfield Times via text message, called Butler’s allegation “totally untrue.”

“I will not dignify them or her with any further explanation of my position on inclusiveness,” Boykin said. “I will do my best to effectively represent all of the citizens in the Carrsville District and the southern end of the county on the Redistricting Task Force.”