PETERSBURG – Saying it wants to expand its work and message into the commonwealth, a policy group advocating for domestic workers announced its presence in Virginia Wednesday by donating $300,000 to the political campaigns of a dozen legislative candidates, including two vying in local races.

Care in Action says it wants everyone to “have the support [they] need to serve their families,” values the “dignity and value” of all work, and believes in the leadership of women of color.

“Many of you may be asking yourselves, ‘Why women of color, why not just all women?’ The reality is, it’s not just about identity, it’s about our experiences,” Alicia Garza, Senior Advisor of Care in Action, and co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter, said at a news conference in downtown Petersburg. “It’s about the ways in which being a woman and being of color, and how that intersects to make our lives either difficult, or to make our lives incredible.”

The announcement of the endorsements was made in the district office of Del. Lashrecse D. Aird, D-Petersburg, one of the 12 officially backed by the group. Aird is opposed in her 63rd House District re-election bid by independent candidate Larry Haake of Chesterfield County.

Aird said that Care in Action makes a personal connection with her because her mother was a homecare domestic worker.

“I can vividly remember holidays, Christmases, special events where she wasn’t able to be there,” Aird said. “When I think about that, that was back in the ’90s, and the fact that we are still facing those same circumstances today, it shows that we have not moved the dial at all.”

Domestic workers provide a variety of household services for families, like childcare and housekeeping. This field is predominantly staffed by women.

Last year, Care in Action ran the largest independent expense program in Georgia, using $1 million to endorse 30 Georgia politicians, including Stacey Abrams, the state’s Democratic nominee in the gubernatorial race.

Care in Action said it set its sights on Virginia because of the state’s large domestic-care industry.

“While we are new to Virginia, it is a very important year to begin our work in the Commonwealth,” said Alexis Rodgers, the group’s state director for Virginia. “As you all know, 400 years ago, Africans were captured, and brought to our shores … Women were brought here to serve the men. And, while those years later, we have certainly made progress in this country, the foundation of misogyny, the foundation of racism, the foundation of sexism, the foundation of classism still exist and manifest itself today, especially in our domestic care workforce.”

After the 2020 election, Care in Action plans to spread into 10 more states across the country, states like North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia in the south, and California and New Mexico in the southwest.

Among the candidates endorsed in Virginia by Care in Action are Democrat Sheila Bynum-Coleman, who is running against House Speaker M. Kirkland Cox of Colonial Heights in the 66th House District; and state Sen. Jennifer McClellan of Richmond and Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy of Prince William County, both Democrats and natives of Petersburg.

Sean Jones can be reached at sjones@progres-index.com or 804-722-5172.