(BALTIMORE – May 9, 2018) – Finally, a candidate decided to tell the truth last night. His name is Alec Ross and he is running for Democratic nominee for Governor of Maryland. He said something simple, yet delightfully refreshing. He said that if we, as a party, are going to be critical of Gov. Larry Hogan, then let us first look at ourselves.
Maryland is a majority Democratic state. Like a burst of fresh air, Ross said that the problems we have in Maryland stem more from a recycled Democratic party leadership than anything else.
In my mind, he was saying that the Democratic Party is stagnant. Personally, I couldn’t agree more. Maryland Senate President Mike Miller, for instance, has been in office since 1975.
My first memories were on North Patterson Park Avenue in East Baltimore around 1968, a toxic year where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated at a Memphis motel. I was about 3. Three years prior, another hero, Malcolm X, was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York’s Washington Heights community. Riots were the order of the day as the African American community exploded with fury across the country in retaliation. In Baltimore – tanks, National Guard soldiers, and fires mark the era. Once the smoke cleared, what then ensued was a black community that was in desperate need of healing and repair.
Fifty years later, North and Patterson Park looks much the same, except a lot or two of dilapidated buildings that were recently razed. The block behind my childhood home on Bradford Street has three residents. The rest of that 1700 block is vacant. And so is the next block: full of vacants. The next street over, the same thing.
On the Westside at Penn-North, the epicenter of the first riots in Baltimore in 47 years following the death of Freddie Gray – it, too, looks like it did decades ago.
Despite a litany of African American Democratic officials who have represented these two predominately African American communities for the past 5 decades, very little progress has occurred here – except where it involves white people. Some call it the “white L” and the “black butterfly” where the center of town and East Harbor get full funding but the east and west parts of town where black people are get ignored.
Belvedere Square looks nice. Canton looks nice. East Harbor and Guilford look nice. And so does Remington. But, Sandtown and Historic East Baltimore (both predominately African American) have been forsaken, except for resources from the two recent Republican governors.
As a matter of fact, the old new development in Sandtown since Freddie Gray is a renovated Western District Police Station. Oh, and Mayor Catherine Pugh also put a second homeless shelter here. Thanks a zillion!
Under Gov. Bob Ehrlich’s administration (2006-2010), Coppin received money like never before and has now expanded to nearly a mile long campus from Gwynns Falls Parkway down to Baker Street. Under Gov. Larry Hogan, a lot of vacants have been razed throughout the city via Project CORE, clearing the way for whatever is next to come.
Question: Why have two Republic governors made more meaningful improvements in Baltimore City than anything a Democratic governor has done here in 40 years?
Here’s another point. The Maryland State Lottery, originally usurped from Little Willie Adams by the state, came online in 1973 with the number one promise of money for education. Since then, $14 billion has been collected and yet we have schools in Baltimore City where in the winter, children have to dress like they’re going to the North Pole.
And then, O’Malley shoved slots and table gambling down our throats with that same promise: Money for education. Later, it was uncovered that such money only goes into a general fund that might … be used for education. Lie after lie, the Democrats look more and more like gangsters in suits who repeatedly bring harm and duress to the black community.
So, when an Alec Ross alludes to the failure of the Democratic Party, something his counterparts are leery to do, I can only scream “Hallelujah” inside.
I think for too damn long, Democrats have been either silent or apprehensive in criticizing the party for fear of rejection. Where the Democratic Party is supposed to reflect “the big tent”, such rhetoric over the years has proven to be no more than a bounced check for the benefit of the African American community.
Many of my colleagues around the country say the same thing about their respective jurisdictions where Democrats rule.
Another prime example of the failure of the Maryland Democratic Party is when the Maryland it failed to support Kweisi Mfume for US Senate in 2006. And let’s not forget when the same party failed to support state Senator C. Anthony Muse for the same position 6 years later. While Muse is no Mfume, the question remains: Why wouldn’t the party support a more-than-qualified Mfume for US Senate? Is Maryland that racist?
The party leadership treats my people like we are nothing, if you ask me, and then turns around and asks for our support like we are an abused wife who doesn’t have the means to escape and consequently feels terrorized and trapped.
Year after year – the black community is expected, coerced, and hoodwinked into believing that some magical way, the Democratic Party actually gives a damn about black issues.
For the record, we do have an agenda. And it includes black business, public education, ex-offender services and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)top our list of priorities.
To my disdain, I recall the last gubernatorial election where the Maryland Democratic Party placed signs going up Liberty Heights that read: “Vote for the Democrats.”
Dear Sirs: You gotta come better than that!
For me, if a person running for Governor of Maryland is not talking about certain issues, then all I expect is more of the same insidious behavior and poor treatment of the black community that has historically occurred. In short, I look at a candidate’s track record.
If a gubernatorial candidate, for instance, has no track record on enforcing Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) laws (29% of all state contracts are to go to MBEs), then one can conclude that MBEs are not on this person’s radar screen. That’s a problem!
For the record, I specifically advocate for black businesses to have a seat at as many tables as possible. Without black businesses, a lot of people would not get hired in the black community. Further, as these black businesses prosper, the better off the black community tends to be. However, when an administration strangles black businesses by not affording them a portion of work financed in-part by black tax dollars, then they are saying clearly that they don’t care about black people.
While Martin O’Malley is my least favorite politician in the entire galaxy, one thing I have to give him credit for is making MBEs a campaign issue here in Maryland. He understood, to some degree, that minority businesses must eat, too, and what better way to endear himself to the broader black community.
Of the Democratic candidates for Governor, my research suggests that only two have a track record in that department: Rushern Baker and Jim Shea. While their track records in no way reach the celestial level of a Mayor for Life Marion Barry in Washington, D.C., they at least understand the fundamentals involved and the need to make a seat at the table for minority businesses, including black business owners. So, … there is hope.
In my book, “Unapologetically Black: Doni Glover Autobiography”, I discuss how Marion Barry was an icon, not just to black businesses, but white businesses as well. You see, everybody has to eat. I’m not saying that black people should get all of the contracts. That’s ludicrous. What I am saying is that black businesses have to be at the table with a plate, knife, spoon and fork, too, like the dominant white community.
Time and time again, I have personally seen how before an election, a candidate is touting “MBE” this and “MBE” that; and I have also seen what happens after that same candidate – white or black – wins and all of a sudden gets a case of selective amnesia. Now, talking about ‘MBEs’ is like speaking an ancient language from the deepest, darkest depths of the Congo.
Generally speaking, Baltimore City has failed at business because they fail to include African Americans at the table. In my honest opinion, it is this failure to understand the machinations of business that least serves the citizens of the city and the state. After all, it is a known fact that Baltimore City is home to some of the most groundbreaking housing discrimination laws that were ultimately replicated across the nation. Further, this warped, backwoods mindset permeates most every facet of our society, including how we do business.
Question: Why are African American communities in Baltimore still lagging behind the rest of Baltimore City given the high percentage of African American Democratic elected officials? I say that that we are not thriving because of institutional racism propagated by our own Democratic Party. Black elected officials get to Annapolis and forget all too often about the people who put them there and the innate responsibility that they have to our people. They seem to be more interested, too often, in winning favor with the leadership than fighting on behalf of the people. As for too many white legislators, it really doesn’t matter what party they belong to; if they don’t like black people, the party affiliation really doesn’t matter.
While the State of Maryland is 2-to1 Democrat, Baltimore City is a whopping 9-to-1 Democratic jurisdiction. Hence, all of the failures in Baltimore have been by the hands of Democrats who have failed to understand and embrace this notion of “the big tent” as well as how to do business.
I am reminded that Baltimore City has zero Fortune 500 companies.
I am also reminded that as people flee Baltimore City in droves for the suburbs, this, too, has an impact on the local economy. Never mind the 24 restaurants that have closed this year alone in the city, Baltimore’s economy is scraping the bottom.
Even though we have a port, an airport, the railroad and major highways, Baltimore’s methodology over the past five decades has crippled its own evolution. It’s called “stinking thinking.” I think this city is stuck in a 1950s mindset, I think we are still riddled by segregation, and unless we face our demons head on, we’re only going to get worse. Unless Democrats begin to treat the black community has equals, I’m not sure Baltimore will ever have the success it deserves.