Gov. Wes Moore became the first African-American to give the Maryland State of the State Address in front of the General Assembly on Feb. 1 inside of the State House in Annapolis, Md. (AP Photos)

By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,
tmcqueen@afro.com

Marylanders received their annual update on the status of the state’s affairs from a Black man for the first time in history on the first day of February this year.

Governor Wes Moore opened Black History Month with his first State of the State address, delivering a call for citizen action.

“I am honored to be the first Black person to provide the state of the state address in Maryland,” said Moore. “It is fitting as the first African American to deliver this speech, in a building that was built by the hands of enslaved people, that we are now putting ‘service’ towards the good of all,” said the new governor. “At a time when many feel more disconnected from their neighbors than ever, service is the antidote to the epidemic of loneliness and otherness. Service is how we re-engage our people in the project of forming a more perfect state.”

Moore echoed the worries of Marylanders and their willingness to tackle the issues at hand.

“Marylanders are worried about our economy, and whether it can keep pace with the cost of living. We worry about safety in our communities. Families struggle to find affordable child care and Pre-K,” Moore said. “Yet, despite the challenges, the Marylanders I talked to were not only fast to offer solutions but expressed a deep desire to be part of the solution.”

Moore highlighted the need to end child poverty in Maryland beginning in this General Assembly session.

“No group deserves our help more than the children of Maryland. In a state with the highest median income in the country, one in eight children lives in poverty,” said Moore. “We can, and we will end child poverty in the state of Maryland. That mission begins this year, right now, during this legislative session.”

Moore used his speech as a call to action. 

“I am now asking you for your help,” he said. “If we are going to make this state work again, we need people willing to serve. In the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, I will be calling on your partnership to find, recruit, and elevate public service as a calling in Maryland.”

Attendees weighed in on Moore’s first two weeks in office thus far and the historical moments ushered in by his election to Maryland’s governor’s mansion.

“This is an all-around historical moment,” said Valerie Yancey, 61, from Bowie, Md. “Gov. Moore is off to a great start and is well prepared in terms of his business experience and commitment to public service. We need to see these things from a state leader who has it.”

In remarks that were greeted with frequent applause, Moore highlighted the importance of service to Maryland. 

“The governor has been amazing so far,” said Christina Broady, 35, a beauty service advisor. “He’s very hands-on, welcoming and refreshing. As a small business owner, Chrissy J’s House of Fashion, I hope that the governor will ensure that small businesses get a seat at the table and help promote us.”

Moore echoed the worries of Marylanders and their willingness to tackle the issues at hand.

“Marylanders are worried about our economy, and whether it can keep pace with the cost of living. We worry about safety in our communities. Families struggle to find affordable child care and pre-K,” said Moore. “Yet, despite the challenges, the Marylanders I talked to were not only fast to offer solutions but expressed a deep desire to be part of the solution.”

The chief of state praised standout individuals from around the state, including Marsha Briley, a resident of Baltimore County, Angela McCullough, a retired U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant, and Jefferson Vasquez-Reyes, a freshman at Montgomery College.

Moore said that roughly 2,833 people have applied to join the Moore-Miller administration in just two weeks. More than 1,589 Marylanders have signed up for a board or commission. 

Moore ended his speech with a call to action.

“I am now asking you for your help,” said Moore. “If we are going to make this state work again, we need people willing to serve. In the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, I will be calling on your partnership to find, recruit, and elevate public service as a calling in Maryland.”

Tashi McQueen is a Report For America Corps Member.

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