I made a response to Rand Paul’s address at the Urban League Convention in Cincinnati, July 23-26, 2014 in which he dubbed himself a “minority”, in “What not to say to black people when you are Rand Paul“. I want to share this opinion piece with you from Stephanie-Rawlings Blake, the mayor (D) of Baltimore MD.
While I applaud anyone’s efforts to reach out to the black community and share ideas that would improve our families’ lives, Paul doesn’t understand a very important piece of the puzzle: earning our trust. For Paul to claim to stand up for our values while opposing policy after policy that advances our community is not the way to do this.
Paul’s long and troubled history with civil rights issues is generally well known around Kentucky and in Washington, D.C., but for many Ohioans, it’s time to take a closer look. Discussing the Civil Rights Act, Paul criticized the law, even emphasizing that he believes private businesses should be able to do whatever they want, including discriminate. He explained his opposition by saying, “I think it’s a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant, but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership.”
This view goes against what the Civil Rights Act was put in place to correct, and I thought this law was settled 50 years ago. Apparently, Paul is ready to relitigate our nation’s progress on civil rights. And last year, when the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act, how did Paul respond? He commented, “We have an African-American president.” He also supports voter ID laws that disproportionately impact communities of color and women, saying, “There’s nothing wrong with it. … I don’t really object to having some rules with how we vote.”
So as Paul spends time in Cincinnati today, don’t let him fool you. To see what he really believes on issues critical to the black community, look no further than the actions he’s taken, the agenda he pushes, and the offensive words he used for years before he decided to run for president.
Right on Ms. Mayor!
…only a handful of black men and women serve as elected mayors of major cities in America. Of the 100 largest U.S. cities, only one has an African-American woman as mayor- Baltimore.
Baltimore is one of the ten cities in the US with a population of over 100,000 with a majority black population – currently 64.3%.
Rawlings-Blake is no stranger to right-wing opposition and agendas. Her conservative opponents have taken issue with her stances on immigration enforcement, marriage equality and anti-choice so-called crisis pregnancy centers.
In March, Rawlings-Blake signed an order prohibiting police and social agencies from asking anyone about immigration status. The order also says no city funds, resources, or personnel shall be used to investigate or arrest people solely for a civil violation of federal immigration law. And it asks U.S. immigration agents to tell people they arrest that they are from the federal government, not the city.
On marriage equality:
Hi, I am Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake, and I am a Marylander for Marriage Equality. I believe that all couples in Maryland, regardless of their sexual orientation, want their children protected under the law. Just as a straight couples commitment to family is legally recognized, so to should a gay couples commitment be recognized by our state government.
Marriage protects families, and couples regardless of sexual orientation deserves the same protection. It’s only fair, it’s only right, and our state must act to make it so.
Rawling-Blake’s success is strongly rooted in her family. She is the daughter of Dr. Nina Cole Rawlings, a pediatrician who was “among the first black women to graduate from the University of Maryland School of Medicine” and Howard Peters “Pete” Rawlings,”the first African American to become chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee in the Maryland House of Delegates.”
See the Baltimore Sun photo gallery of “Stephanie Rawlings-Blake through the years”.
Her career in politics:
In 1995, Rawlings-Blake became the youngest person ever elected to the Baltimore City Council. She became President of the Council on January 17, 2007, when then-City Council President Sheila Dixon became mayor (after then-Mayor Martin O’Malley became Governor of Maryland). Under the Baltimore City Charter, the City Council President becomes mayor if the mayor dies, resigns or is removed from office.
On June 14, 2007, Rawlings-Blake announced that she would seek a full four-year term as Council president. Her platform included improving education and reducing crime in the city.
In a poll of likely Democratic voters released by the Baltimore Sun on July 17, 2007, Rawlings-Blake was in a virtual tie with Michael Sarbanes, son of former Senator Paul Sarbanes. The poll had Sarbanes getting 27% of the respondents and Rawlings-Blake 26% with Councilman Kenneth N. Harris, Sr. a distant third with 8%. The poll’s margin of error was (+ or -)4%. She won the Democratic primary-the real contest in heavily Democratic Baltimore-with 49% of the vote compared to 38 percent for Sarbanes. In the general election, Rawlings-Blake defeated her only opponent, Green candidate Maria Allwine, with 82 percent of the vote.
In February of 2010, the mayor of Baltimore, Sheila Dixon, was convicted for embezzlement. Dixon resigned and “Rawlings-Blake, as council president, automatically succeeded Dixon as mayor”.
She ran for election for mayor in 2011, and “handily defeated Republican challenger Alfred Griffin, taking 84 percent of the vote”.
Mayor Rawlings-Blake issued this statement
“We are honored that the NAACP has named Baltimore as the host for its 2016 Annual Convention! Baltimore’s rich African American heritage and culture is celebrated and laced throughout the fabric of our city, and the NAACP’s own proud legacy is thriving in Baltimore City today. Our NAACP branch is among the first established in the nation, and the NAACP’s official headquarters on Mount Hope Drive has called Baltimore home since 1986. Events like this further showcase that Baltimore is truly a world-class destination, and prove that we are quickly becoming one of the nation’s cornerstones for tourism. On behalf on my administration and the people of Baltimore, we’re delighted to bring the 2016 NAACP Convention home!”
Look forward to seeing where she goes next in politics.
Cross-posted from Black Kos