The following is the opinion of Ben Jealous, it is not an endorsement by the AFRO. We invite others to submit Op-eds of 700 words or less. The AFRO reserves the right to edit them as we see fit.
By Ben Jealous
I’m proud to endorse Jill. She has done more than any other politician in recent decades to fight corruption in our city and our state. She has been prolific in both writing and passing legislation in Maryland. And she has the courage to stand up and fight for Medicare for All.
Still, my endorsement might be a surprise to some people. Simply put, you might expect a former national president of the NAACP to endorse the candidate in this race who has held that same ambition.
Kweisi Mfume is a friend who I have admired for a long time, and I would be very happy if he were the next congressman of this district. He has served us well in the past, and he would no doubt do a good job in the future. We are blessed in this race to have an abundance of high-quality candidates. I chose to endorse Jill for a few reasons.
First, her record on fighting corruption and speaking truth to power is unparalleled. As a State Delegate and Senator, Jill has been willing to buck the establishment to put her constituents first. Last year, for instance, she exposed the epidemic of self-dealing by public officials in the infamous Healthy Holly scandal. She fought for and ultimately passed meaningful anti-corruption reform, Senate Bill 619.
Jill is ahead of the curve on several issues. She is the only candidate in this race to declare unequivocal support for Medicare for All, and she has been vocal about the need for drastic healthcare reform. She has been ahead of the pack on criminal justice reform, denouncing the disastrous 1994 crime bill and calling for an end to the mass incarceration it generated. She’s determined to right the wrongs of the failed War on Drugs and bring justice to the people whose young lives were interrupted by excessive punishment.
In addition to her character and foresight, I’ve also chosen to endorse Jill because she is a woman. Like many with deep roots in this district, I’m proud of our succession of courageous Congress people, from Parren Mitchell to Kweisi Mfume to Elijah Cummings. Each served with honor and distinction, and had a positive impact on the district and the nation. It’s also notable that each one was a man.
It takes allies to overcome patterns of discrimination. My father taught me, by example, that white people have an important role to play in fights against racism. He also taught me that men have an important role to play in fights against sexism. When I stepped down from the NAACP, I made a point to say that the next president should be a woman, and I was proud when Lorraine C. Miller took over the role.
No one knows Baltimore and serves Baltimore better than Jill Carter. And I’m proud to endorse her.
Ben Jealous was the Democratic nominee for Maryland in 2018 and the former President of the NAACP.