On March 27, while all the members of the legislature were convened in their respective chambers, the members of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, led by Chairwoman Cheryl D. Glenn (D- Baltimore City) in the House and Senator Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore City) in the Senate, walked out of the House and Senate Chambers right before the voting sessions. The last time the Black Caucus walked out of a convened session was ten years ago, back in 2007, when Chairman Rudolph Cane led in their fight against the status quo—a battle that rages on today.

Before the start of the legislative session, the Legislative Black Caucus made a promise to the Black citizens around the state that “we will stand united and we will fight”. The walkout was the Black Caucus putting their money where their mouth is. The Black Caucus made it clear to the leadership that they intend to deliver on their promise to fight for equal access to opportunities for minorities.

Andy Pierre, Executive Director of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland (LinkedIn Photo)

Andy Pierre, Executive Director of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland (LinkedIn Photo)

“This was not a dog-and-pony show, it was our message to leadership saying the Caucus is united and will not be deterred — the message was heard loud and clear.” Explained Black Caucus 1st Vice Chair Delegate Darryl Barnes (D-Prince George’s).

During the interim, the members of the Legislative Black Caucus worked closely with community stakeholders to put together the Priority Agenda for the 2017 Legislative Session. This Priority Agenda addressed five problem areas that disparately impacted minorities around the state. Throughout this legislative session, every member of the Black Caucus has been working tirelessly to draft and pass legislation that addressed those five problem areas in ways that would yield positive results for all Marylanders.

Our opposition, intent on maintaining the status quo, has been maneuvering to undermine the Black Caucus agenda all session by blocking Caucus legislation from leaving various committees. This session Caucus has had knock-down, dragout fights over Medical Cannabis, HBCUs, and Bail Reform. United, the members Black Caucus have been fighting against special interests to ensure the best interest of all Maryland citizens.

Since the Caucus could not be divided and conquered, there have been attempts to water down the priority agenda legislation. By walking out, the Black caucus let the legislature know in no uncertain terms that the members of the Caucus are ready to go pound for pound to get results. Caucus unity and community support has helped the Caucus pass several pieces of legislation that will improve the quality of life for minorities.

In their unity, the Black Caucus members are leading by example and proving to the next generation of black leaders that they can move mountains together.

Andy Pierre is the Executive Director of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland.