It is epic to live to your 98th birthday
but even better, it’s legendary to do so after a life lived in Service to your family, your Community, your State and your Nation.
What Dr Reid accomplished by the time he was only 30 years old:
Dr. Reid served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy during the Korean War, with the 1st Marine Division, and later at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. Returning to Richmond, he became active in civic and professional affairs. He served on the staff of Richmond Memorial Hospital, Richmond Community Hospital, Retreat for the Sick, Medical College of Virginia and St. Mary's Hospital. His professional associations included the American College of Surgeons, Richmond Academy of Medicine, Richmond Medical Society, Medical Society of Virginia, Old Dominion Medical Society, American Medical Association and the National Medical Association. He became a diplomate of the American Board of Surgery in 1955
Dr Ferguson Reid, Sr is one of those legendary people.
There have been many stories written here at Daily Kos about Dr Reid and his many (MANY) accomplishments over the years.
One of the best is this one:
A Man Ahead of His Time by Kboddye in 2017
If this causes you to ask about what is going on today with Voter ID laws, voter purges, racial gerrymandering, and all of the other tactics we’re seeing from the Republicans, you’re correct in doing so. What’s happening now isn’t new. They’re simply using new methods that were previously used by Southern Democrats.
Enter Dr. William Ferguson “Fergie” Reid.
Fergie helped revolutionized the way folks got organized and mobilized, recording not only where people lived and what voting districts they were part of, but what they’re interests were, what skill sets they had, and what groups they were part of. “Big Data” didn’t exist in he 1940s, and yet Fergie collected as much demographic information from voters as possible. Being able to know voters and would-be voters, their issues and their connections to others was a sure-fire way to appeal to them. Being able to draw upon people’s networks, passions and skills allowed them to not only get folks out to vote, but also to get more folks registered and involved. Expanding the voter rolls was just as important as mobilizing the existing base, and that largely holds true today.
Because of his work, Fergie was able to go from activist to legislator, becoming the first African American elected to the General Assembly after Reconstruction. Many argue — as do I — that he helped pave the way for Doug Wilder’s election as Virginia’s first African American Governor, along with Barack Obama’s historic election as the U.S.’s first African American President.
If you read that carefully, you will clearly see why KBoddye called Dr Reid “A Man Ahead of His Time”.
What is being described there is the same work that Democratic organizations across the nation are working on today, to build useful data for local and first time candidates, and higher Office candidates, too.
But he put that idea to work in Virginia before most of us were ever born!
His work in the decades following WWII is a clear line to the victories of (D) Virginia candidates clear up to the current era!
In all those years, it appears clear to me that Fergie was focused on the one thing which seems to be left out of most Democratic campaign action today — Registering New Voters.
“Expanding the voter rolls was just as important as mobilizing the existing base, and that largely holds true today.” — Dr Wm Reid, Sr
But like most politicians, Dr Reid also had a family at home, his wife Jacqueline, two daughters (Hollis and Kelly) and son Wm Ferguson Reid, Jr. All three children became medical professionals.
I spoke with his son, (Fergie Jr) about the effect of his father’s political life on their family recently.
These are questions I asked:
1) How did your father's decision to enter politics as a candidate affect your family life?
2) Did your dad's work as a doctor influence your own career path?
3) When did you & your dad get involved in speaking with candidates seeking Office for the first time?
4) Have State Dem Chairs spoken with you and your dad about the 90for90 org and how to set up the same kind of action in their state?
5) Did your dad ever meet with President Carter during his active political life?
6) Anything of note you'd like the general Daily Kos community to know about your dad's work and influence on Virginia politics?
These are his answers:
1) - Significantly — He made Virginia history in 1967, against long odds & entrenched powerful forces. Obviously, that is accompanied by many "positives & negatives".
2) Probably. Both of my older sisters & I are physicians.
3) Dad's been doing it since I have any memories - the early 1960s. I started helping in the 2012 cycle, making sure someone ran against Eric Cantor in Va. CD 7, where Mom & Dad lived at the time.
4) Some have done this.
5) Not sure about Carter. He did meet with LBJ.
6) The DK community should know that they are a great untapped source of political power. Dad & I made this clear to the DK Asheville group when we met them in 2015.
The DK community should know that their support of Dem candidates in the past, present, & future is a great strength within Dem party politics. Small donations from all over the country, & grassroots activism locally are a wonderful gift to any campaign. DK has the ability to bring both.
I’d like to take this moment to highlight that final answer.
Daily Kos has the ability to bring Small Donations and Grassroots Activism locally to affect state level campaigns.
It couldn’t be more clear in 2023, that state level offices are what the GOP has been working on seizing for a few decades now — and they have done so in an era where they have also managed to manipulate the membership of the Supreme Court Bench.
That’s a double whammy if you are looking at democracy in the United States in the 21st century.
I suggest that what should happen is that Daily Kos registered users and readers take note of what Dr Reid was able to accomplish in Virginia during an era where men of color were generally not seen as Voters, much less politicians. Take note of what he focused on as the means to change how his state worked for people of color — new voter registration.
Because for over a century in these United States, about 1 out of 3 people JUST NEVER BOTHER TO VOTE. That blue line is Presidential years, the orange is Midterms. Since around 1920, presidential elections see between 50% & 64% of voters turning out. Midterms are much worse, from just over 30% to 50%.
FOR A CENTURY.
Take to heart the message of Dr William Ferguson Reid, Sr and what he did with that idea, to improve the lives of so very many people in Virginia and beyond. The message that the organization started in honor of his 90th Birthday, 90For90.org, is founded on. More voters is a great idea!
If we want Democratic candidates to win more elections, we need to register New Voters, every single year.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Such a simple idea, and yet it is the heart of what has made Dr Reid legendary, in his own lifetime.
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