Black Lawmakers Organize Future Black Agenda

Maryland Delegate Dianna Fennel (center) speaks about economics in Annapolis during a May 15 meeting of Black lawmakers to prepare an agenda for the Black community in the state. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Maryland Delegate Dianna Fennel (center) speaks about economics in Annapolis during a May 15 meeting of Black lawmakers to prepare an agenda for the Black community in the state. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

ANNAPOLIS — Black legislators in Maryland plan to organize an agenda to help the Black community and have it ready by 2030.

Delegate Darryl Barnes (D-District 25) of Upper Marlboro, who chairs the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, said Tuesday the goal will be for various organizations and young adults to formulate recommendations and integrate them into law.

It will focus on five pillars: housing, criminal justice reform, education, health care and economic justice. The year 2030 ensures a detailed written plan would be utilized for future lawmakers and current struggles in the Black community eradicated.

“We believe everyone has a voice and everyone has an opportunity to share your ideas, share your dislikes … and how to move forward,” Barnes said.

Darius Stanton, treasurer for the Maryland Black Caucus Foundation, which advocates and promotes policies for the Black community, said each committee will connect with one of the four historically Black colleges and universities.

Besides lawmakers, representatives from the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office, Baltimore City Community College, nonprofit organizations and other businesses presented their views on what lawmakers should asses.

Kym Taylor, vice president of marketing and strategic solutions for Family Choice Healthcare in Lanham, expressed concern about whether seniors will be addressed in the proposal.

So, Taylor joined a committee to address health care. Delegate Jazz Lewis (D-District 24) of Landover assisted in organizing the group.

The Rev. Kobi Little, a member of the NAACP Maryland State Conference in Baltimore, said Blacks in the state’s jails and prisons must be constantly talked about and pushed to the masses. He said the state’s Black population stands at 30 percent, but 80 percent of Blacks are incarcerated.

“By the time 2030 comes, we ought to never say, ‘There are more African Americans in prison than the population of this state,'” he said. “That has got to be our number one issue. It is slavery in the worst sense.”

Little jumped on the criminal justice committee chaired by Delegate Erek Barron (D-District 24) of Mitchellville.

Delegate Edith Patterson of Charles County, first vice chair of the Black caucus, led an education discussion for Blacks to receive more financial literacy, incorporate reading programs and restructure the system when it comes to student achievement.

Tina Dove, a former teacher who now works as an organizational specialist with the state Education Association, said teachers want more instructional time as opposed to months of preparation for students to take the PARCC exam.

In terms of economics, Delegate Benjamin Brooks of Baltimore County said a person with a bad driving record can still succeed with good credit.

“It just shows how important credit is,” he said to a group he will chair on labor, employment and training.

Committees will meet periodically to prepare a draft of the plan by November 2019.

Barnes asked for those who attended Tuesday’s discussion to not stray away and support a July 7 unity breakfast at Martin’s Crosswinds in Greenbelt.

“You guys have committed to what we are trying to do,” Barnes said. “In order to make change, you have to be involved in the change process. I am begging for your support. We cannot do this by ourselves.”

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About William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer 512 Articles
I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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