WHEN CHARLES S. ROBB took office as governor last year, he said some important things about his vision of Virginia in the years ahead--and specifically about how more blacks would be included in the affairs of state. Last week, at the NAACP's national convention in New Orleans, the governor reaffirmed this commitment. States everywhere "must assist their black citizens in moving steadily toward inclusion in the mainstream," he said, pointing to his hopes for a state government "in which there is room for everyone committed to building a future of real opportunity for all."
In his speech, excerpts of which appear in today's "Close to Home" column on the back page of this section, Gov. Robb points up a significant discovery about constructive changes that may be occurring in today's Virginia. Those who recognize a relationship between social justice and economic progress now include "a remarkable number of traditional, fiscal conservatives and moderates" as well as political independents, Mr. Robb reports.
In Richmond as in Washington, there are those who hasten to point out that many politicians-- from the president on down are now thinking of things to say and perhaps do that might win them some attention among black voters. If that's politics, that's fine; and Mr. Robb's idea of inclusion clearly and openly encompassed black voters--who saw enough in his campaign to ensure his victory and give him the chance to perform.
What people won't see, because it is still not in the cards of successful statewide politicians in Virginia, is anything resembling strident, narrow or--perish the word in the Old Dominion--"liberal" position-taking. That is not a formula for change in this state.
Yes, this may be obvious to many black and white people whose state governments or upbringing prompted them to see not only the negative side of racial exclusion, but also the positive gains of inclusion of all races. But in Virginia, this recognition has taken time to catch on. And now it is taking a governor to greater lengths in keeping a commitment--and spreading the word with care and force. That is why Gov. Robb is careful to cite the many areas where "the needs of our black citizens intersect with the long-range objectives for building a better future for all Virginians."