Arthur Ashe Boulevard

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney speaks June 22 during an unveiling of the new signs marking the naming of Arthur Ashe Boulevard.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has resigned from a committee planning upcoming historical ceremonies in Jamestown over the group’s decision to invite President Donald Trump.

In a resignation letter obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Stoney said he was stepping down immediately from the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation’s main 2019 Commemoration steering committee, as well as from a separate committee planning events to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans in North America.

“A president who labels those who disagree with him as un-American and ignorantly advocates for duly elected congresswomen, all United States citizens of color, to be sent back to their countries of origin has no place at this commemorative gathering in our Commonwealth this weekend,” Stoney wrote in the letter dated Monday.

Organizers of the Jamestown commemoration could not immediately be reached for comment.

Stoney’s resignation comes as Democrats continue to wrestle with how to respond to Trump’s expected presence at the Jamestown ceremony Tuesday to mark the 400th anniversary of the first legislative assembly in English North America. The General Assembly will convene in Jamestown for a commemorative session.

Democratic General Assembly leaders have said they’ll boycott any events Trump attends, though Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam helped extend the invite to the White House last year on behalf of the group planning the events. The group also invited national Democratic leaders such as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who declined the invitation.

Despite the boycott threat from Democratic caucus leaders, other elected Democrats have said they’ll attend, whether Trump shows up or not.

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, the only African American statewide officeholder in Virginia and a possible candidate for governor in 2021, published a lengthy explanation of why he will attend, saying the historic commemorations are more important than the “frenzied and fickle politics of the moment.”

Stoney, often mentioned as a potential future candidate for statewide office, took a sharply different approach, casting his stance as an act of protest against a president who demeans American values. The mayor said he was resigning “with deep disappointment but great conviction.”

“History has taught us there is nothing more patriotic; nothing more American, than raising a voice to authority,” Stoney wrote. “I cannot and will not play a role in hosting a president that disparages those who do and denigrates our democracy in the process.”

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