Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus has more members than any other state-level Black caucus in the country. The 60-member organization’s mission described on its website is to “serve as a unified public voice for the advancement of African Americans views, issues, and concerns by developing a pipeline of legislative leaders, influencing progressive policy, and educating underserved communities.”
Major policy pillars the legislative body targets include economic justice, education, health care, and environmental issues.
Following the Nov. 8 election, members met Saturday for their annual legislative weekend at the Live Casino in Arundel Mills.
Many of the attendees had history on their minds. Delegate Kym Taylor (D-District 23) and Sen. Antonio Hayes (D-District 40) were proud to celebrate Black excellence and make history with Gov.-elect Wes Moore. Newly elected delegates attended, as well, including Adrian Boafo (D-District 23) and Alethia McCaskill (D-District 44B), along with lobbyists Darrell Carrington and Stanley Tucker, and several political staffers.
Chairman Darryl Barnes and Treasurer Ben Brooks were the main hosts and for both of them, this will be their last event in leadership. Brooks was elected to the Senate in western Baltimore County, the first Black man to hold the position following the retirement of Sen. Delores Kelley.
“As the Chairman, tonight is special for me because it is my last as Chairman,” Barnes said. “This event has significant meaning for what we have accomplished over the years, and is a great way for us to go out. We sold over 450 seats, and our business breakfast had over 300 attendees.”
Shaneka Henson (D-District 30A), the first Black woman elected to the House of Delegates from her district, was honored as Delegate of the Year. The Annapolis delegate passed a bill to provide full-ride scholarships, mentoring, and job placements for HBCU students who attend law school in state, which she said was her proudest accomplishment. “It’s important for Black communities to have additional advocates who can fight for equity, including in the law,” she said.
Carl Snowden was honored with a Community Service Award for his decades of service in Anne Arundel and around the state, including as an Alderman in Annapolis. He was seen with Councilman Pete Smith, who is returning to the Anne Arundel County Council.
“It’s always good to support organizations that have an agenda and a plan to improve conditions for people of color in Maryland,” Councilman Smith said. Both were also proud to have elected Everett Sesker and Erica Griswold, the first Black Sheriff and Register of Wills in Anne Arundel County’s history.
Delegate Stephanie Smith (D-District 45), chair of the Baltimore House Delegation, serves on the Executive Board of the Black Caucus and was ab early endorser of Wes Moore. She said she was honored to celebrate the accomplishments of the Caucus in the face of adversity.
New leadership will be elected in advance of the upcoming legislative session.