A renowned activist, who rose to fame during the protests in Ferguson and eventually became one of the most prominent figures in the Black Lives Matter movement, has shaken up the mayoral campaign trail in Baltimore by announcing his bid to run for the political office.
Civil rights advocate and social media personality DeRay McKesson filed his entry papers right before the filing deadline for Democratic primary. Although his move took many by surprise, it can potentially change the BLM movement as other leaders are moving to support his mayoral campaign.
“I have come to realize that the traditional pathway to politics, and the traditional politicians who follow these well-worn paths, will not lead us to the transformational change our city needs,” McKesson wrote in a Medium post announcing his decision. “We have lived through lofty promises and vague plans. We have come to expect little and accept less.”
The 30-year-old previously worked as a teacher and school district administrator in Baltimore and Minneapolis. However, after the police shooting of black teenager Michael Brown in August 2014, McKesson joined protests against Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri.
After joining similar protests in Baltimore, he began working as a civil rights activist and amassed a legion of followers on social media. He eventually became an important figure in the national Black Lives Matter movement.
“There’s a way to challenge from the outside and a way to challenge from the inside and both are important,” McKesson said in a separate interview to the Baltimore Sun. “Baltimore is a city of possibility and we’ve got to challenge the traditional pathways of politics and politicians who lay those paths. We have an opportunity, fundamentally for Baltimore that could change the city to be more transparent and accountable towards people.”
Democrats have held the mayor’s office in Baltimore for more than 30 years, so if McKesson wins the Democratic primary, he has a strong chance of becoming the mayor.
Here’s how Twitter responded to his announcement:
Deray running for mayor of Baltimore feels like a special moment in history.— Akilah Hughes (@AkilahObviously) February 4, 2016
One candidate to another, welcome to the race @deray. Let's get this good work in for Baltimore— Calvin Young (@CalBmore) February 4, 2016
@deray Best of luck to you on your run for Mayor. This news made me smile with joy this morning!— Vicki Nicholls (@teamvicbo) February 4, 2016
@deray , I may have to move to Baltimore so I can cast a vote for you - rooting for you— Grant Besser (@BesserLA) February 4, 2016
@deray Your strength and courage will stand you in good stead. Best wishes! Will be rooting for you.— Hope Chamberlain (@ThisSideOfLeft) February 4, 2016