By Doni Glover, Publisher
(BALTIMORE – August 5, 2023) – It’s no secret. Baltimore has some major challenges to face going forward. And as the May 14, 2024 election inches closer, the political landscape of mayoral candidates is getting increasingly interesting. It’s kind of like watching the Preakness as horses line up for the race. You know?
You have some known names – of course, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott. Former Mayor Sheila Dixon has demonstrated a likelihood of running. There is no mystery that Bob Wallace still plans to run again, this time as a Democrat.
Thiru Vignarajah probably can still taste the mayor’s seat. Surely, he has been beating the sidewalk for some years now. He’s stayed active and kept his name out there. One could argue that another loss makes him a perennial, a death knell for any politician. This city’s voters have seen many fall into this category over the years. So, he will be more calculated than ever. One has to admire his tenacity.
Yolanda Pulley has stated that she is running for Mayor of Baltimore in 2024. She’s been doing advocacy much like Thiru, except she has been doing it for more than 20 years. She’s ‘true to this, not new to this.’ One of her first pieces of advocacy was speaking up for the people at the apartments at North and Linden who were being evicted before the property was to be razed. It became known as the notorious ‘Murder Mall’. She stood in the gap as residents were being ushered out, speaking out on their behalf. Today, developer Peter Bramble’s name is associated with this swath of real estate just west of I-83 at North Avenue.
The newest name added to the list of mayorals is Wendy Bozel. Having been a teacher for the Baltimore City Public School System for a decade, the mother of three is also the President of the Upper Fells Point Improvement Association. She told Fox Baltimore this week that 6 of her students have been shot and that she is disturbed by this and simply cannot watch this movie anymore without trying to be a part of the solution.
Baltimore is a tough town where politics can be greasy and dirty. There is no such thing as fair. One has to wonder about the venality of local government. How far will people go to make a buck, for power, for influence, for ego? This brings to mind the African proverb: “When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”
Residents are more focused on where to buy decent groceries without getting shot than politics. It’s a crying shame that the city has become so restless and unfocused. Don’t get me wrong. There is still a lot of good here. On the other hand, we cannot pretend that we don’t have serious issues with drugs – legal and illegal, shameless violence like in Brooklyn where 28 people were shot and two killed, a burgeoning homeless population, and wild, wild west-styled lawlessness.
There’s also this effort against Baltimore Gas & Electric’s installation of external meters. The arrest of three women in Federal Hill has captured a lot of attention and will likely be a 2024 election issue.
We’re in a day and time where cops are present for one reason: to call the ambulance or the coroner. People engaged in illegal activity on one side of the street while cops sit across the street and watch. Some BPD officers are scarred from the aftermath of Freddie Gray, including the implementation of the DOJ’s Consent Decree. This has forever augmented the state of policing in Baltimore.
Crimes are getting increasingly egregious and heinous. Fatherlessness has a lot to do with it. We live in a day and time where the Black father is absent far too much. This leaves the dads who are present with double and triple duty. They have to serve more than just their own kids. He probably fulfills the most important but least appreciated role in Baltimore City. The dads who are present have to carry the water for their fellow dads who are too often caught up in selling, using, and incarceration.
And Lord knows the Black mother is tired. She has been holding the Black family together for centuries. The thought of the mother at Mondawmin during the Freddie Gray unrest comes to mind; she was not having her son involved in any unrest. Period. The image of her confronting her son went viral.
There is a war against Black people in America that has never ended; it’s only transformed over the years to the point that some people want to erase the truth from history. Today, books are being banned because the truth is too difficult for the stomachs of certain conservatives who still think like the days of the Civil War.
Racism and segregation still riddle Baltimore. Its ugly head can be viewed in everything from education to transportation to sanitation. Black neighborhoods in Baltimore are neglected while upwardly mobile white communities tend to be treated differently. Freddie Gray showed us that. While there was a curfew in the Black community, the white community saw no such thing.
Long story short, Baltimore is in need of healing. Number one, racism is killing Baltimore. Just look at the Harbor. Despite all of the money invested there, it is a ghost town. A lot of the investment should have gone instead to East and West Baltimore. Edmondson Village and Park Heights could have used that level of investment, too. Instead, these neighborhoods were intentionally starved to death for decades under the watch of Black politicians. Legacy residents were encouraged to move with the hope of coming back home.
People are getting wiser, though. Some can even see through the veil and grasp that until we address the issue of race in Baltimore, we can never move forward. Education is truly at the core. The state of our schools speaks volumes. The level of immediacy placed on the nurturing of our children seems dim. Without a more promising public educational system, big business will never move here. Even neighboring Baltimore County is experiencing similar challenges.
The truth is we can do better. And in order to accomplish this, Baltimore needs a leader who can balance business with community, the needs of seniors with the needs of youth, and, quite frankly, Black and white.
Baltimore Mayor J. Barry Mahool, known as the Father of Segregation, created a precedent back in 1910. That is when this diabolical scourge was first introduced. It created an environment where the races were separated – just like apartheid. Sadly, the vestiges of this “stinkin’ thinkin’” abides with us today. But so too does hope. Back then, two Black lawyers were relentless in their fight against Mahool: Ashbie Hawkins and George McMechen.
Who has this courage today? Who has the fortitude to speak truth to power today? Who will stand up for us today?
The next election requires a person to address these and other challenges head-on. No longer can we afford to stick our heads in the sand as if we don’t see a collapse on the horizon. Something has to change and immediately so. Otherwise, we all die.