By AFRO Staff

The death of Maryland’s venerable 7th District Congressman Elijah E. Cummings in October created a void many argue will never be adequately filled. His political career, which began in the Maryland House of Delegates in 1986 and ended as Chair of the powerful House Oversight Committee, which played an integral role in the impeachment of Donald John Trump, rests in the pantheon of American politics over the last 50 years.

However, the opportunity to occupy the seat once occupied by another political titan, Parren J. Mitchell prompted dozens to launch their candidacies, including another man who once occupied the seat, Kweisi Mfume. And the AFRO is endorsing Mfume for the 7th District seat at one of the most difficult times in the city’s and the nation’s history.

Kweisi Mfume, seen here at the funeral of his friend Rep. Elijah Cummings, seeks the 7th Congressional seat vacated after Cummings death, the seat Mfume once held.lijah Cummings. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, Pool, File)

It was not an easy decision to make.

During our process of interviewing candidates, the AFRO editorial staff, as well as our community leaders, which included Nicole Mundell, executive director, Out For Justice; Adam Jackson, CEO, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle and Ralph Moore, former director of the St. Frances Academy Community Center in Johnston Square, were more than impressed with several candidates.

Del. Terri Hill, a surgeon who represents Howard County displayed very cogent command of the issues outlined in the AFRO’s questionnaire, sent out to all of the candidates, particularly in reference to the local conversation around reparations for Baltimore’s disenfranchised communities.

The AFRO is also very encouraged by Saafir Rabb II’s decision to enter the political arena; his expansive worldview, entrepreneurial intuition and work ethic have already positively impacted the lives of many in some of Baltimore’s most vulnerable communities.

But, it is Sen. Jill Carter, who represents the 41st District of Baltimore City, who more than any politician in Maryland has earned the title, “The People’s Champion.” 

Carter, often at her own peril politically, has consistently fought for the people most victimized by policies that have been hostile to their very existence. Dayvon Love, director of Public Policy for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, may have said it best in his endorsement of Carter via Facebook.

“She has paid a big price for being someone who would challenge the Democratic Party establishment’s complicity in mass incarceration. Her commitment to the tradition of Black liberation is clear and uncompromising…Someone who is an undisputed champion for Black Liberation,” Love wrote.

However, it is the AFRO’s opinion that Mfume, more than any other candidate for the 7th District, is ready from Day One to take the seat vacated in the wake of Cummings’ untimely death, a seat Mfume once occupied admirably.

After all, it is Mfume who has forged a political career that rivals that of the legendary Cummings; from his fabled victory by three votes to serve on the Baltimore City Council, to his noted tenure in the House of Representatives (which included Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus), to his time as the President and CEO of the NAACP. Add to that Mfume’s clear understanding of some of the most daunting issues facing the city and the nation; crime, affordable healthcare, affordable housing and education among them.

Perhaps, Mfume’s most valuable asset, the one which clearly sets him above all the other candidates for the 7th, is the fact that he should be given a measure of seniority in the House because of the time he accrued during his first tenure from 1987 to 1996. That seniority should serve him well, as he navigates one of the most polarized political eras in the nation’s history.

Mfume has never hesitated when called to serve the community he loves. And the AFRO is calling on him once again to serve the people of the 7th Congressional District at this dire time.