Back To School!
It is that time of year again! Along with thousands of families across Baltimore County, Myra and I have prepared for our girls’ return to school this week. We purchased school supplies, checked school schedules, and stocked up on their favorite snacks for lunches. Our eldest daughter is beginning her sophomore year of high school and our youngest daughter joining her sister in middle school.
More than 35 years ago, residents in neighborhood watch programs nationwide decided to build awareness of their public safety efforts by establishing the National Night Out initiative. It started as an opportunity for citizens to interact with public safety officers and leaders in an effort to build more trust and participation in the concept of community policing.
Today, the National Night Out program engages over 38 million citizens in 16,000 communities nationwide. Tonight it will be my great privilege to join National Night Out activities in a number of District 44B’s great communities. While social events surrounding National Night Out typically receive the most attention, this event is also an extraordinary opportunity for citizens to ask questions and to provide feedback on critical issues of community policing and relations with public safety officers.
I am looking forward to working with leaders and stakeholders from each of these areas, as we convene neighbors and officers to determine ways to fortify great existing programs and partnerships aimed at positive community relations, and how to create new ones.
It is my great hope that you enjoyed the holiday weekend with your family friends. We all know the Fourth of July as a time to reflect upon and celebrate the formation of our great country, but I wanted to briefly share some interesting, lesser-known facts about our state’s role in the formation of the United States of America.
Many know that Maryland and other colonies declared independence from Great Britain in 1776. Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, and Charles Carroll of Maryland signed the Declaration of Independence on behalf of the colony. Before this declaration, an anonymous writer called Marylanders to action in the name of freedom.
A self-described Friend to America wrote:
"The people are now loudly called upon to exercise their right of instructing their deputies in convention, in this very important matter, remembering, that discord in America, only can enslave it, and that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Let the people in the respective counties meet and draw up suitable instructions, for the careful observance of which, let their honor be pledged…. These crude hints are offered to your consideration, by a sincere friend to America."
Maryland made history last month ushering in a new Speaker for Maryland's House of Delegates! After the untimely death of Speaker Michael Busch, a special session was called and held on May 1st. Three delegates expressed interest in succeeding Speaker Busch and Baltimore County Delegate Adrienne Jones was elected as Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates! I was honored to cast my vote for Speaker Jones.
While Speaker Jones is blazing a new trail as the state’s first woman Speaker and its first Black Speaker, Speaker Jones is not the first person in her family to blaze trails. On September 10, 1935, her aunt, Margaret Williams, and Lucille Scott traveled to Catonsville High School to gain admittance. They were met by Principal David Zimmerman who refused to admit the young ladies to Catonsville High because Baltimore County Public Schools prohibited blacks and whites from attending the same public schools. The NAACP’s counsel, Thurgood Marshall, sued Baltimore County on their behalf in the case of Williams v. Zimmerman on their behalf and although Maryland’s Court of Appeals did not rule in their favor, the case was known as the second stone to Brown v. Board of Education.
Last week, we laid our Speaker, Michael Busch to rest. While I have had the opportunity to meet the Speaker during my fraternity’s annual visit to the Statehouse, I met and had my first real opportunity to sit down with the Speaker in 2014 after I won. We had an opportunity to speak about what I wanted to accomplish in my time as a legislator and the committees that I had an interest working on. He always had an encouraging word and I am thankful I had the opportunity to call him my Speaker and a colleague for my first 5 years in the Maryland House of Delegates.
We have recently passed the midway point for the 2019 legislative session and I wanted to provide an update on some important issues that we’ve focused on so far! I had an opportunity to be interviewed regarding my agenda for the 2019 session. You can watch it by clicking here.
Two years later we find our neighbors and their communities facing challenging circumstances because of the flooding caused during the May 27th storm.
As time has passed I have had the opportunity to get out in the community and have realized the damage was far more extensive to our community than I could have imagined.
Four years ago when I made the decision to run for the House of Delegates, Senator Delores Kelley reached out to the County Executive, Kevin Kamenetz, and urged him to support my run for office. The County Executive and I had a couple of meetings where we discovered that we had a few things in common. Kevin and I were both attorneys. We both supported our Baltimore Orioles. And we both were alumni of Johns Hopkins University. I think it was this last commonality that we bonded over. Well, Kevin ultimately supported my campaign, and I was successful. That morning when I was sworn in, he offered his congratulations to me and took a moment to pose for a photo with Myra and our girls.
Elections are the bedrock of our political system. Now that the legislative session is over, I would like to turn my attention to the upcoming primary which is set for June 26, 2018. This session, the General Assembly passed two bills which will change the paradigm for voting in this state.
Anyone that knows me, knows that I will sometimes look to song to draw upon which capture life. I could not help but to think about Abel Meeropol’s poem, sung and performed by Billie Holliday. The lyrics are:
Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop