Posted on January 16, 2024

Don Scott, Sworn in as First Black Speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates, Was Once a Federal Prison Inmate

Scott MacFarlane and Kaia Hubbard, CBS, January 10, 2024

Virginia Del. Don Scott Jr. made history Wednesday when he was sworn in as the state’s first Black speaker of the House of Delegates.


For Virginia’s legislature, which is often referred to as “the oldest continuing lawmaking body in the New World” and is steeped in tradition, the new speaker’s path to the chamber is anything but traditional.

After serving as an officer in the Navy and while in his third year of law school, Scott spent nearly eight years in federal prison after pleading guilty in a drug conspiracy case.


After being released from prison, Scott went on to finish his law degree and open a law practice before being elected to the Virginia legislature, where he saw a meteoric rise – serving as minority leader since 2022, before gaining his party’s backing for the chamber’s top post.


The historic swearing in took place in Richmond, once the capital of the confederacy and the city that just two years ago removed its last city-owned confederate statue. {snip}

“We’re only a few miles from where the first slaves came into this country in 1619,” Scott said. “Now 405 years later, you have your first Black speaker. So I’m very cognizant of the shoulders that I stand on. {snip}”