By Doni Glover, Publisher
Unapologetically Black: Doni Glover Autobiography
Thursdays at Midnight on WEAA 88.9 FM
(BALTIMORE – November 25, 2020) – In 26 years of covering elections, particularly here in Maryland, capturing young people involved in the political process has always been important to me. A young Antonio Hayes comes to mind. At the turn of the century, he had already gotten his feet wet in both Annapolis and Baltimore City where he had time to hone his craft. He put in the work and two decades later, he is now the state Senator of the 40th district where he stands on the shoulders of people like state Senator Troy Brailey.
Senator Brailey is the first elected official I ever met. He lived just around the corner from my childhood home. Early in life, I can recall my mom taking me to his house to apply for a Senatorial scholarship. The year was 1983.
Four decades later, the neighborhood recreation center – Easterwood – was fondly re-named after him. You see, he was a staple in the community. He was a standup type of fellow who tended to do right by the community. Further, he served in a time when there were only a handful of Black legislators in Annapolis. Yet, this 11-member delegation gained a reputation for bringing back the bacon.
Ahhhh, those were the good, ol’ days!
Today, we have a whole new cadre of young Blacks on the political scene, vying to make their name ring. To an extent, I am partially responsible for them. Sure, I love to give young people a voice. And yes, I would do it again.
The one thing I would try and do a little better though is explaining to these well-education Black millennials their innate responsibility to be loyal to the people. On countless instances, for example, we all have seen well-known Black elected officials from Maryland fall from grace for petty charges. Fifteen grand, thirty grand, 500 dollars in gift cards, and authoring kiddie books is no way to honor the legacy of people like Sen. Brailey and the others who had to fight two and three times as hard as their white counterparts just to get into office.
I would make it part of my life’s mission to reiterate to these young mavericks the sacrifices made just for this new generation of Black elected officials to even step foot into City Hall or the State House. When I think of the terror of the Ku Klux Klan on Southern voters, voter oppression characterized by poll taxes, lynchings and the long list of atrocities against people of color in this country – it becomes imperative for this new generation of leaders to understand the score. If politics is a game, then these young Blacks must know where they stand in the larger equation. And right now, we’re losing miserably.
Look at East Baltimore! Look at West Baltimore! What? Are folks waiting for Black people to just OD, kill each other or simply move out? How come we see development in Fells Point and Belvedere Square and North & Charles – but yet nothing in East or West Baltimore in decades? Why?
This new cadre of leaders must go into these same hallowed halls where the laws of our state and city are written and devise the absolute best legislation that will actually empower our community. They must understand how our beloved Maryland Democratic Party – and I’m a life-long Democrat, for the record – has repeatedly failed to produce a Black US Senator or a Black Governor. They have also made repeated promises – going back to 1973 – that proceeds from the Maryland State Lottery, table gambling and the like will go towards education. Yet, while there’s a new football stadium and a new baseball stadium, we now have classrooms literally with icicles on the windows in the middle of winter. And as for Black businesses in Maryland – including Baltimore City and Prince George’s County, we are only garnering 2 to 3% of the prime contracts. Mind you, these are majority Black jurisdictions where Black businesses – especially given our Black political representation – ought be thriving.
The point is simple: Our young leaders cannot make excuses. They must deliver or go home. Tepid, shy, and inarticulable stances are useless. What is needed is leadership.
For years, I have heard young leaders state why they should be given a chance. Truth be told, some serious veterans have been retired in the process. People like state Senator Joan Carter Conway and state Senator Nathaniel McFadden served our community well for years.
Now, this new battalion of young leaders must stand on the broad shoulders of these ancestors and elders and prepare to do even more. They have the training and the potential. And we certainly have the issues here in Baltimore, including thousands of vacant houses, retarded property tax rates and an anti-business climate that chases away both families and businesses, and mass incarceration that terribly disaffects the Black community nationwide. Hence, the time for these dynamic new 21st century leaders to step up and show what they can do is now!