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Gov. Ralph Northam. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Virginia officially became the first Southern state and 23rd state nationwide to end capital punishment, after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed legislation to abolish the death penalty on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Virginia has executed nearly 1,400 people since its days as a colony, more than any other state, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

  • Since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, only Texas has executed more people than Virginia. Two men remained on Virginia's death row as of late February, per AP.
  • 296 of the 377 people that Virginia executed in the 20th century were Black, Northam noted at the signing Wednesday as he spoke about the historic racial disparities in capital punishment.

How we got here: Democrats won control of the state legislature in 2019 and gave final approval on legislation to repeal the death penalty in February.

What they're saying: "Over Virginia’s long history, this Commonwealth has executed more people than any other state. And, like many other states, Virginia has come too close to executing an innocent person. It’s time we stop this machinery of death," Northam said in a statement after Virginia's legislature passed the bill.

  • "[T]his progress is foremost a reflection of where Virginians have stood for years," leading House Democrats said in a statement that urged other states to follow Virginia's move.
  • "The fact is juries have stopped sentencing defendants to death," the statement read. "The death penalty no longer reflects Virginia's values. The Democratic majority listened to our constituents and ended this outdated, inequitable and inhumane practice. Finally."

Go deeper

Updated 11 mins ago - Sports

Katie Ledecky wins gold in first women's 1500m freestyle

Katie Ledecky at the Tokyo Games. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Katie Ledecky took home the Olympic gold medal in the women's 1,500-meter freestyle swimming race Tuesday evening, becoming the first female swimmer to win the newly added division. Team USA's Erica Sullivan won silver.

Of note: The Tokyo Games mark the first time that the long-distance race has been open to women, and Ledecky paid tribute to her predecessors after the race. "I just think of all the great U.S. swimmers who didn’t have a chance to swim that event," she said on NBC.

Updated 21 mins ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Katie Ledecky celebrates with teammate Erica Sullivan after winning the women’s 1500m freestyle final. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

🚨: Katie Ledecky wins gold in first women's 1500m freestyle

🤸🏾‍♀️: Simone Biles pulls out of gymnastics team finals, citing her mental health

🎾: "This one sucks more than the others," Naomi Osaka says on upset loss

⚽️: USA women's soccer ties Australia, propelling them to the quarterfinals

🏊‍♀️: Teen swimmer Lydia Jacoby wins first U.S. women's Tokyo Games gold

👟: World Athletics president supports reviewing marijuana rules in doping

🏄‍♀️: American Carissa Moore wins first-ever women's Olympic gold in surfing

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage - Medal tracker

Activision Blizzard CEO calls company's response to suit "tone deaf"

Photo: Bloomberg/ Getty Images

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick sent a lengthy letter to employees late on Tuesday, listing steps the company will take to address widespread allegations of sexist and discriminatory conduct at the "Call of Duty" and "World of Warcraft" gaming company.

Why it matters: This was the most comprehensive message from the company, and a softer one than had been sent by Kotick's PR people and a top executive last week.