Why I Joined the Malcolm Movement
In my last year as Mayor of Braddock I outdid myself. I played kickball with the Woodland Hills Students, judged a dessert contest at Braddock Farms, spoke at the Women’s March on the City County Steps, greeted folks again and again at Greater Valley Community Services Vaccine Clinics, ran four municipal campaigns, and endorsed a few folks. One of them was Malcolm Kenyatta. I didn’t know him but when he looked up my number which is still readily available on Facebook he called and that one phone call was enough to pique my interest as that was one more conversation that I’ve ever had with the previous mayor. I was also impressed that he did his homework and saw that I had a firm stance against fracking. I could go on and on about how yes a working-class Philadelphia millennial who has been through more than enough struggles but you can do that homework.
In my 32 years of living in Braddock (I spent 2014 taking a sabitical and being a flight attendant for a few months) I’ve seen more of Malcolm in Braddock than I’ve seen the last mayor who spent a decade plus in Braddock.
What made me endorse Malcolm wasn’t the fact that he called me but he then showed up and we walked through the interior of Braddock. The interior of Braddock is where the real people are. Braddock Residents have been there for generations and although Braddock Ave looks like progress, beyond the Ave showcases the struggles that residents are still going through today. Granted I was only mayor for 2 1/2 years and Rome wasn’t built in a day but when a reporter asked me how it felt to be rescued I shook my head. It’ll feel like rescuing when we stop giving people free stuff and give them actual jobs that pay a thriving wage.
We didn’t just walk the inside streets but he took the lead, stopped to talk to people and did something that a leader should do. Instead of throwing out ideas to residents he asked, “what do you need?” He then took it a step further and offered resources to help meet that need. That accessibility felt genuine and not like, “I’m running for something here’s my card.” We sat with a woman at her house she’s lived in for decades and talked about the neighborhood, her grandkids, and the meal she was cooking. We forgot that we were actually walking to a destination. Then he left and came back and he did it again and again. Kenyatta even donated to the 2021 Braddock Community Day and had his folks there.
Even before I knew of Kenyatta in the senate race I knew I had to vote for someone who cared and could speak for me and I didn’t know who that was yet. We have people who make it to the senate and congress and want to be a voice for the voiceless but don’t understand the hypocritical nature of that statement. Why not find someone whose voice you want to represent and put them front and center? We’ll never have genuine representation to represent America if we keep allowing cis white men to represent the voiceless.
What does Braddock need?
Braddock needs jobs. Braddock needs help with blighted properties. Braddock needs businesses to help us stimulate our economy. I say businesses because we should never depend on one business alone to sustain a local economy. Braddock needs a grocery store as we have three corner stores in a three block radius. Braddock needs spaces for community gathering, and until we get these things we’ll continue helping each other. Free stuff is nice but having the resources to sustain ourselves is nicer.
Don’t wait! Ask for forgiveness and not permission.
I was tired of hearing, “wait your turn,” so I jumped the line because I wanted someone else to see themselves in me and if there’s no representation what are we doing it for?