Photo (L to R): The three delegates who made Maryland history: Majority Whip Talmadge Branch (D-45th, Baltimore City), Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne Jones (D-10th, Baltimore County), and Delegate Derick Davis (D-25th, Prince Geroge’s County)
“Power concedes nothing without demand. Never has and never will.” – Frederick Douglass, a native Marylander
(BALTIMORE – April 26, 2019) – Let me start by saying how extremely proud I am of these three delegates who dared to defy the dark traditions of the past in Maryland today: Adrienne Jones, Majority Whip Talmadge Branch and Derick Davis. Today, ladies and gentlemen, they – along with the support of colleagues in the Maryland House of Delegates – made history. Collectively, they represent Prince George’s County, Baltimore County’s northwest corridor, and Baltimore City – three majority African American communities. For them to be on the same page at the same time was nothing short of miraculously and phenomenally beautiful!
In 439 sessions of the Maryland General Assembly, as a dear lawyer friend of mine reminds, there has never been an African American Speaker of the House. Never in the history of the great State of Maryland has a person of color ever handled the gavel. It is long overdue, to say the least.
Today, my fellow journalists and I witnessed an unprecedented show of unity among African Americans, and it happened right at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture in downtown Baltimore. It was refreshing to be present at this remarkable announcement, especially considering that this is a former slave state. In short, Delegate Derick Davis got the nod from Jones and Branch as their choice for Speaker of the House.
African Americans comprise 30% of the state, and have religiously supported the Democratic Party. African Americans, in fact, are the most loyal voting demographic as it relates to the state’s Democratic politics. So, to see my people using their intellect and resources to forge boldly ahead to a new day in a new way was awe inspiring.
Why hasn’t an African American ever held the post of Speaker of the House? What reason best explains why we have never had an African American governor or Senate President in Maryland? Why is there this subtle suggestion whispered into our psyches over the ages that it is just not our time yet?
I ask you, who wants to keep waiting?
Hogwash! African Americans, I am proud to say, can no longer be “hoodwinked, bamboozled and run amuck” by the gross superstitions and ideologies of the past. This is a new day and if the Maryland Democratic Party is truly to reflect the makeup of the people of Maryland, then I say that the only disappointment about today is that it didn’t happen decades ago. If we, as a state, are truly American – if we actually lived what we say we believe, then today’s historic accomplishment would have occurred a long time ago.
It’s not as if African Americans do not have the ability to lead; No, not at all! Put simply, it’s been racism. Maryland politics has always been dominated by white males. Even though African Americans can swing any election in Maryland, the Democratic establishment has repeatedly refused to relinquish power – even to its most loyal constituent.
The reality is that the only way to get power is to take power. If you ask, the answer will always be “no” or “wait”. I am elated to report that my people are no longer asking; we are no longer waiting. We’ve heard that song it’s time has come and gone. We are demanding, and if we do not get what we want, there will be repercussions that no one can stop – including Rep. Elijah Cummings and his wife, the Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, Maya Rockymoore Cummings.
In case you missed her statement earlier this week, she essentially threatened Democratic elected officials in Maryland to stay in line or else and if they if any way support a Republican anything, heads will roll.
Truth be told, she hasn’t earned the right to say that. Even more, no one has.
Understand, if the Black Caucus garners the support of the Republican Caucus, then it’s “game over” and Derick Davis becomes the Speaker of the House, and not Delegate Maggie McIntosh.
Time and time again, I have seen people like then-Gov. Martin O’Malley and Senate President Mike Miller bully our African American elected officials. I have seen how my people get treated in those closed rooms because when they come out, they are not the same person. All of a sudden, fear becomes the mantra.
Time and time again, I have watched my brothers and sisters go to Annapolis with the highest of ideals only to be punked by a white man. Now, this African American elected official has to play “team ball”. And if he or she doesn’t, if he or she bucks – then that person will get no meaningful legislation passed. Or, they might send police to raid your house or they might leak a dirty story about you to the media.
We know how they get down, and fear is a primary tactic implored.
Pardon my language, but that shit is old. No one is trying to live in fear. The Holy Bible says that “God does not give us the spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind.” Fear paralyzes. Fear stymies development. Fear prohibits any kind of growth … for the individual, for the community, for the nation; any nation.
Again, I am so proud of Jones, Davis and Branch. They made me so proud of my people – a people who have endured the harshest hatred imaginable. From lynchings to mass incarceration to freezing classrooms, African Americans have been given a check for too long that is returned because of insufficient funds.
Just how long can a lie go on? How long can you shortchange somebody before they start to deal with you differently, accordingly? Can you just take and take and take and never ever give back? Never? I don’t think so. The universe doesn’t work that way. When you have power, you should take care of the people. And if you are only going to serve yourself, then you shouldn’t be in the business of public service. You should go into business and leave politics for the men and women who are trying to love the people properly.
Yes, Maryland! It is finally time to pay the piper!