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
One of the best parts about representing the people of the district is being able to work with them to address a problem, whether it is legislatively or otherwise. This summer, my constituent, Mr. Phillips, reached out to me regarding a situation he experienced which he felt was unfair. After reading his email I too felt it was an issue that needed to be addressed. According to Mr. Phillips, his son has had tardiness and attendance problems since he was a sophomore. There were days that Mr. Phillips would drop his son off outside the front door and watch him walk into the building, only later to receive a message from the school that his son was not in attendance. Mr. Phillips contacted the school about giving him consequences for his actions. All it offered was detention, and when his son ignored it, no further disciplinary actions were taken in holding his son responsible for his lack of attendance.