Prince George’s County Del. Aisha Braveboy (D-25) is running for Maryland Attorney General and if she wins she would be the first Black and first woman in the state’s history to hold that office.
But, she had breakfast in West Baltimore Monday at New Shiloh Baptist Church with members of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Baltimore and Vicinity, in her capacity as chair of the Legislative Black Caucus.
During the breakfast meeting Del. Braveboy – with several members of the Black Caucus in attendance – laid out the group’s agenda for the 2014 legislative session in Annapolis. Among the issues the Caucus wants to bring forward: economic justice concerns, including fair housing and a raise in the minimum wage, the treatment of ex-offenders, and the plight of the state’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s). She elaborated on these issues during a subsequent phone conversation.
“Our focus is on social and economic justice,” Del. Braveboy said. “We’re focusing on number one, our HBCU’s and providing parody and resources an also increasing their independence from the university system so that they can better achieve their goals,” she added.
Del. Braveboy specifically spoke to the October ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Blake, which declared the state of Maryland – in a case that began in 2006 – is in violation of the Constitution, “for operating a system of higher education still rooted in segregation.”
According to Braveboy, “Because of the historic underfunding that occurred for close to 100 years there are still great disparities on the campuses when it comes to infrastructure, when it comes to the number of high demand, unique programs that are offered at the universities…the number of full-time faculty,” she explained.
Del. Braveboy also said the Black Caucus wants to create a task force to study the proliferation of sub-standard bank-owned properties in predominately low-income communities of color, which bring down property values in those neighborhoods.
“Generally, people, regardless of race their wealth is established through the property that they own and if you don’t have equity in your property you don’t have financial independence,” Del. Braveboy said.
“It is a huge economic injustice when banks are purposefully treating properties differently… based race, based on economic levels, based on zip codes,” she added.
In November, during a forum at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law featuring the four Democratic candidates for Attorney General (no Republicans have announced their candidacy yet), Del. Braveboy described mass incarceration as, “one of the most important issues of our time.” During the prayer breakfast meeting at New Shiloh, she spoke specifically about some of the challenges ex-offenders face.
“If a person has committed a misdemeanor and has paid their debt to society has been productive and has not re-offended…over a certain period of (years) that person should be able to have the ability to successfully compete for job opportunities,” Del. Braveboy said.
“So, the “shielding bill,” would say that the record of your conviction would be shielded from the public’s view. But we really need to take another step further…expungement truly gives a person a second chance.”
In wake of nationwide protests of some retail employees being forced to work during Thanksgiving and the burgeoning low-wage workers movement in America, Del. Braveboy and the Black Caucus plan to take up the issue of raising the minimum wage in Maryland during the 2014 session.
“We are as a Caucus and have been before it got popular nationally on the forefront of raising the minimum wage,” Del. Braveboy explained. The Caucus wants to see the minimum wage raised from the national standard of $7.25/hour to $10.10/hour.
“We support it wholeheartedly, I have been the chief sponsor of the bill I’ll be sponsoring it again next year in Annapolis,” she added.
“What we understand is that we can’t continue to have people working 40 hours a week and still living in poverty. When it comes to the poverty level…it impacts our school system, it impacts our criminal justice system, when you see high levels of poverty you see high levels of crime. So, it is smart for us to raise the living standard of all individuals.”