Dave Rogers first came to Charlottesville when he was an undergraduate at UVA in 1965. After graduation, he moved to the Tidewater area to become a teacher, but he missed Charlottesville and soon moved back. He has lived here ever since, raising a family and working as a teacher and later a principal in at least six local public schools.
When Dave began to think about retiring six years ago, he looked around for some way to be helpful in the community and found the Charlottesville Chapter of Virginia Organizing. “I really liked the idea of helping people find opportunities they might not find otherwise. This town is very spread out and doesn’t have good public transit. It can be hard to access the help you need. Connecting people with resources restores a sense of community.”
For the last five years, Dave has been participating in the Charlottesville Chapter’s steady work of registering voters in mostly African American neighborhoods. On many Saturdays all year round, Dave sits at a table outside a popular barber shop or a restaurant in one neighborhood and asks people who walk by if they are registered to vote.
He noticed from the beginning that many people of color, especially men, would walk by saying only “No, I can’t vote.” It gave him a passion for the restoration of civil rights for people coming out of prison. Dave says, “It’s a complicated process with many hoops to jump through when it doesn’t need to be. Many states restore rights automatically. In Virginia you come out and you already have a very difficult time establishing yourself. You have to get an I.D., a place to live, a job, and many other things, and so it’s just too frustrating to have all these steps you have to take in order to vote.”
The chapter trains volunteers and provides them with materials so that they can make it easier for people who want to restore their rights. The other thing they do is build power in the community. “I’m there every week, so sometimes a person will come up to me and say ‘So and so told me you could help me do this.’ It means I have credibility and I can have conversations with new people.”
Thank you for your work, Dave! You’ve helped hundreds of people vote, and you’re helping to dismantle systemic racism in Charlottesville.