The AFRO recently spoke with members of the Baltimore-based think tank, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, to discuss the outcome of the midterm election and the next course of action now that voting is done. (Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash)

By Tiffany C. Ginyard,
Special to the AFRO

The governor of Maryland is Black; The State is still blue.
Echoes of warm words woo voters long after the moment,
While the AFRO asked a few good grassroots organizers
What they advise residents of Baltimore to do?

Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle (LBS) Adam Jackson and Dayvon Love, suggest people persevere beyond personality, hone in on the policies and hold elected officials at all levels of government accountable. 

“The Governor-elect [Wes Moore] is a powerful speaker; he’s a great person overall– I’m sure– but it’s not about personality. At the end of the day, it’s about our community’s agenda,” said Adam Jackson, LBS’s CEO.

In the case of the overwhelming support of Question 4, which progresses the legalization and regulation of the cannabis industry, there are two points of interest to track and engage: 

(1) the work legislators are now allowed to do around regulating the industry, which impacts access small black businesses have to equitable opportunity to sell and distribute of marijuana legally

(2) the stewardship of the Community Repair and Reinvestment Fund, a “big win” from the 2022 Legislative Session, which will be established, upon the approval of Question 4.

The fund will be structured to bring at least 30 percent of the tax revenues of recreational cannabis back to the communities most impacted by the war on drugs. The next step is for each jurisdiction to pass an ordinance that determines how those resources are spent. 

“Seeing that process through in a way that black people have meaningful participation is the work before us now,” said Love. “So, we’re gonna be figuring out how to implement that in the upcoming session and through the mayor and City Council.”

Power to the People!

Bootstrappers, Talented Tenth, and everyone in between: Rise Up!

What say we? Are we clear about what we expect, what we really need? Are we strategically organizing? Are we empowered to actually advocate on our behalf not waiting on someone to come and save us?

Jackson tosses the ball back to the “people’s court,” challenging citizens to engage. 

It’s no longer enough to just “get out and vote.” Right now, it’s more important than ever for people “to get out and stand with” community-selected political advocates, grassroots activists and thought leaders in Baltimore. These are the people that carry the community on their shoulders to Annapolis, session after session. They wield knowledge, expertise, human and financial capital to advance, and in some cases pioneer public policies that protect and empower the interests of Black people in Baltimore, and across the state. 

[Supporting them] you will get the outcomes that you want, but if you don’t, if you don’t get involved then you’ll be caught in that trap,” Jackson told listeners of Today With Dr. Kaye on WEAA 88.9 FM the day after the election.

One of the traps Black voters unconsciously fall into is voting for legislation sponsored by rich people for personal interests. For example, the average voter didn’t see what happened with Question K, which seeks to place limitations on how many terms city government officials can serve and restricts from running for office for a significant time frame. It’s not the proposition of term limits that feeds the poignancy of this particular piece of legislation. Generally, Black voters are for term limits; the complexity of Question K lives in the irony that Baltimore residents did not bring it to the ballot. 

Alex Smith, chair of Sinclair broadcasting–who owns a bevy of local news stations around the country, including Fox 45 News– sponsored this measure. His agenda is to “replace the Black people who are in office with people he sponsors and controls,” Jackson said.

When unfamiliar people start popping into positions in city government, Jackson says,  it’s because they’re being bought and paid for. If this measure picks up steam in the upcoming session, those elected officials who’ve been around for 20 years–those who’ve evolved into keepers of institutional knowledge, who know how to get the pot holes filled, who know how to make sure the government runs correctly and that the budget is balanced–will insidiously trickle away. 

[Question K’s impact] is going to have a deleterious impact on particularly the mayor, the comptroller and city council, ” Adam told Dr. Kaye, an associate professor of communication and African and African American Studies at Loyola University. “As much valid criticism people have of Baltimore City elected officials, in many respects, the people who’ve served in office those periods of time have allowed the government to sustain and maintain its level of integrity.”

In a commentary published pre-election, What Black people should be paying attention to in the 2022 Maryland General Election, LBS brought this to the public’s attention, suggesting we vote “no.” 

The source of corruption in Baltimore is that elements of the corporate sector and its appendages are able to hand-pick which Black people are viable for public office. Until Black people are able to produce our own independent Black electoral machinery, the same gatekeepers will hand-pick the Black people that they can have control over. Term limits will not change that,” the article reads.

“You got our vote! Now, Give us the policies.”

This message goes out to City Hall, as it relates to the criminal justice reform, particularly Question H, which calls for transfering oversight of the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) from the state to the local level. Currently, no entity or a process exists to adjudicate what happens when there’s a discrepancy between what law enforcement says and the community says, such as when a resident is killed (in a no shoot zone) by police.

If residents want something in the process and procedures concerning disciplinary action and community oversight with law enforcement to be changed, the current process requires them to request interference at the state level, during the 90-day session. Question H proposes the community be given the ability to engage in oversight by way of City Council, who are essentially in session year round.

Should this be successful, LBS advises voters to keep watch for how the local leadership  forges forward in the next session, considering the Scott Administration “seeks to vest investigatory powers solely in the Administrative Charging Committee, and not the community-controlled, community-operated Police Accountability Board.”

“Unfortunately, the Brandon Scott administration and Baltimore City Senate delegation Chair Cory McCray appear resistant to the idea of community oversight of law enforcement.

”This is an example of how Democratic Party leadership undermines the ability of Black people to exercise power over institutions that govern our lives,”  Love offered in a recently published Op-Ed. 

According to Jackson’s tea, “Democrats sound progressive on television, but when you talk to them on committees during session, a lot of them sound real Repubican-ish.”

On Dec. 3, LBS will convene the 9th Annual Black Legislative Agenda Day: “From the Baltimore Grassroots,” an opportunity for grassroots organizers to work collaboratively on efforts in Annapolis to support legislation that transform our communities. 

This event is free and open to the public. Community organizations are invited to rsvp at and to come prepared to discuss what they are working on during the 2023 MD General Assembly. The event will be live streamed from LBS’ Youtube channel.

Tiffany C. Ginyard is the founder of the Fly Girl Network, Inc., a non-profit organization focused on raising the collective consciousness and well-being of Black people in Baltimore and beyond through conscious-raising media, youth & leadership development, and collaborative healing initiatives.

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Tiffany C. Ginyard Special to the AFRO

AFRO Managing Editor

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