All eyes will be on the Black Community in Baltimore, Maryland as we enter into the final round of the election in November. There is the distinct possibility Baltimore City will elect four Black males from four different generations to positions of power: Congress, Comptroller, City Council President and Mayor. This is so unique that it rivals the rare and unique “planet parade” on July 4, 2020 when all the planets of the solar system— Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune plus the dwarf planet Pluto lined up on one side of the Sun at the same time.
It appears Baltimore City voters will elect Congressman Kweisi Mfume, 70’s; Comptroller Elect Bill Henry, 50’s; Council President Elect Nick Mosby, 40’s; and Mayor Elect Brandon Scott, 30’s. This unique alignment is a combination of youthful energy and senior wisdom. The question is what will this qualified quadrilateral of political dexterity provide the citizens of Baltimore City?
We have many problems that have been exacerbated over the years. It’s not necessary to recount them, they are generally well known. What is missing is our ten-year recovery plan? I say ten-year recovery plan because the Citizens of Baltimore City need a comprehensive redevelopment strategy and plan that will outlast the political terms of this particular cast of political personalities.
We have so many assets within our city: world-class medical institutions; world-class educational institutions; a world-class port; and the birthplace of so many firsts that I cannot begin to name them within this short space.
I will say, we have residing within our borders the intellectual capital to make a difference, and now I will argue we should have the political wherewithal to change the trajectory of our city to the benefit of all who live here.
The United States of America needs a comprehensive urban renewal plan. The political stars are so aligned in Baltimore City that we can become the model for that comprehensive urban renewal strategy.
Just imagine if every graduate of Baltimore City Public Schools was prepared to enter a local college if they choose to without having to take remedial courses?
Just imagine if substandard housing was eliminated within Baltimore City? Continue to imagine a community so safe that doors of homes wouldn’t have to be locked, and your neighbors were also your friends?
Just imagine when our two HBCU’s would hold sports events that would generate so much enthusiasm and be so spectacular that people would come from all over the area to witness the basketball, track and field, baseball, golf and tennis events?
Just imagine that all of the historic sites, building and monuments in Baltimore City were international tourist attractions?
Just imagine that if our mass transit system was so comprehensive that no one needed a car or had to pay for auto insurance unless they chose to do so?
Just imagine that all of our under ground systems were modernized and all of our streets were resurfaced?
Just imagine full employment for area residents? Just imagine transit travel to Washington, D.C. in 15 minutes and New York within an hour?
With each level of government, oh I forgot to mention, the quality state legislators emanating from Baltimore City, were in agreement and alignment on a comprehensive redevelopment plan and strategy for Baltimore City that we could advance programs, such as the ones we advanced before— the late Senator Charles “Mac” Mathias and the late Congressman Parren J. Mitchell navigated through Congress the Nehemiah Housing Act, which produced affordable housing in Baltimore City that still stands today. Former United States Senator Barbara Mikulski conceived the Hope VI program that demolished many of our public housing high-rise buildings and develop- ment communities of housing choice.
I must mention the unique contributions of the former Assistant Housing Secretary Robert Embry in the creation of the Community Development Block Grant program; and David Cornish in the management of the long ago Urban Development Action Grant program.
Prior government and elected officials without the benefit of the political alignment we now enjoy, took these significant and transformational actions to benefit Baltimore City.
Now the baton is in the hands of Kweisi, Bill, Nick and Brandon to run their leg of the relay race with the excellence the people of Baltimore City deserve. Hopefully, they will take this opportunity to cast a vision for Baltimore that is inclusive and comprehensive and develop a ten or twenty-year plan that will guide Baltimore City well into the future.
Do not allow the allure of political power to overcome the need for political service. I will say there is a crowd of witnesses cheering you on, and if necessary “Act Now Baltimore” will critique you as need be. The future of our city is in your hands! Let’s reimagine our beloved community together!
Dr. Al Hathaway serves as the Senior Pastor of Union Baptist Church located at 1219 Druid Hill Avenue in Baltimore.