Little Known Black History Fact: Yvonne B. Miller

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  • Yvonne B. Miller was the first black woman elected to the Virginia Senate. Miller, who shared a birthday synonymous with Independence Day, was the longest serving woman in the history of the Virginia Senate. In 1987, Miller became the first woman member of the Virginia Senate. The state of Virginia’s resistance to desegregation in the 1950’s sparked her determination.

    Senator Miller was a spokesperson for the poor and underprivileged community of Virginia. Her career took a new direction in 1983, when she became the first black woman to win a seat in the House of Delegates. Within four years, Senator Miller won a seat in the State Senate on the budget-writing Finance Committee. Then in 1996, she became the first black female chair of any Senate Committee, the Senate Transportation Committee.

    One of thirteen siblings from Edenton, NC, Senator Miller sought a career in education before turning to politics. It was through the resistance of desegregation by the state Supreme Court that Senator Miller chose to make changes to the system from the inside out.

    Senator Miller passed away on July 3, 2012 from stomach cancer. The following day would have been her 78th birthday. But before her battle with illness overcame her ability to speak her voice in the Senate, she denounced a Republican bill enforcing that voters bring identification documents to the polls, which, according to Senator Miller, equates to voter suppression.
     

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