Yvonne B. Miller, who shattered racial and gender barriers simultaneously as the first African American woman elected to Virginia’s legislature, died July 3, one day shy of her 78th birthday. She had stomach cancer.
Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Don McEachin said Sen. Miller died at her home in Norfolk. She was a career educator and an outspoken advocate for Virginia’s poor and minorities in the General Assembly.
Sen. Miller broke the combined gender and color barrier in 1983, when she was the first black woman to win a seat in the House of Delegates, the oldest continuously meeting legislative body in the Western Hemisphere.
Four years later, she did the same by winning a seat in the state Senate.
Sen. Miller ascended from obscurity, when neither women nor minorities had a voice in the legislature, to win a seat on the budget-writing Finance Committee and become chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.