Approaching MLK Day, BQP Proudly Endorses, Devin Barrington Ward, Openly Queer Candidate for Office
As hundreds of Black Queer Folk descend on this great city of Atlanta during Martin Luther King Jr Weekend, it is fitting that we endorse the candidacy of Devin Barrington Ward, candidate for Georgia State Senate in District 38. Ward, a son of Caribbean Immigrants, in many ways embodies the spirit of, as he calls it "rebellious optimism" that Dr. King invoked in his work. Though the legacy of King is often sanitized to downplay his life and work that stemmed from the belief that in order for every one to live the American Dream, that there would be a need to be a fundamental redistribution of wealth and power. Over 51 years since the death of the Civil Right's leader, it is abundantly clear that while tremendous progress has been achieved, that there continues to be a deep chasm, filled with unfulfilled promises and failed policies that make the dream out of reach for few out side of the rich and powerful.
In Devin's district, this disparity is glaring.
Home to over 187,000 people, stretched across 4 cities (Smyrna, Douglasville, Mableton, and Atlanta) each with its own unique set of challenges. With a nearly 65% Black constituency, and 55% under the age of 40. It is no secret that the largest demographics in this vibrant, but often neglected district, are also the ones most vulnerable to poverty and homelessness, police violence and incarceration, inadequate or non-existent heath care options, and environmental hazards.
Barrington Ward notes, "Less than 10 miles up the road from where I live in Bankhead, they have a 25 year higher life expectancy". The data confirms this:
According to data from the 2010-2014 American Community Survey (ACS) from the U.S. Census database, in Bankhead roughly a 78.6% of residents have a high school graduate or higher degree, which is about 10% lower than the national educational attainment average of 88.31% (U. S. Census Bureau, n.d.). Bankhead has an average median income of $32,084 and a 26.1% unemployment rate, which is higher than the 5.2% unemployment rate in Atlanta (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016). Buckhead, Fulton County, Georgia
Buckhead is a neighborhood in the city of Atlanta that is located north and northwest of downtown Atlanta. The Buckhead area is known as an affluent area and is synonymous for high class. Once nicknamed Atlanta Heights to represent the area being the ‘height’ of Atlanta living,
Buckhead has a high employment and income rate, high levels of education and a viable housing market.
Buckhead has a high educational attainment of roughly 95.5% of residents with a high school degree or higher. The household income in Buckhead is $63,448, which is higher than the Atlanta median household income of $46,439 and the neighborhood has an unemployment rate of 6.8%.
Sober of these issues, but yet full of hope for his home, a place where he himself experienced homelessness, he has committed himself to being an advocate and change maker to empower his community. He launched his campaign in January with the intent to reclaim the narrative, with a bold proclamation "Reclaiming Our Future". His confidence comes from his long history of policy and advocacy work both as a grassroots activist, and more direct work in local government through his organization Black Futurist Group. Devin has been engulfed in the trenches of the work long before his political career.
Like Dr. King, Ward has been selected by his community to run to represent them and the issues that they discuss at their kitchen table. The campaign has a core agenda designed to directly meet the needs of his district.
" Our job isn’t to predict the future, rather it's our duty to create it.
Building the future, a future rooted in the prosperity and wellness of all of us requires that we fight to enhance the quality of life for all Georgians. This vision for the future is fortified in the 38th State Senate District of Georgia and while the people who live in this district may experience serious challenges, we are also a people grounded in incredible perseverance and the embodiment of a rebellious spirit of optimism.
It is through our collective spirit of rebellious optimism that we, the people will win this state senate seat so it can be used as a tool to end health disparities, environmental racism, economic inequities, gentrification, voter suppression, and the use of the criminal legal system to oppression Black and Brown people. Through this senate seat, we the people, will build the future.
Although your individual names will not be on the ballot, when I am elected, this senate seat will belong to people once again. I am running because I welcome being held accountable to the promises and values that will be shared throughout this campaign. I welcome that accountability because the status quo teaches us that when we don’t keep our leaders accountable to their promises, we are robbed of the future we deserved.
The robbery ends with the launch of this campaign." - Devin Barrington Ward
It will take a coordinated coalition of old and new voters from across his large district to unseat his opponent, Horacena Tate, who has held the seat since 1999, and whose father held the seat before her from 1975-1993. The family has had a political stronghold on what the Devin for State Senate Campaign has coined affectionately as "D38", and despite the long tenure, many constituents continue to be negatively impacted by unaddressed local issues by leadership.
Hear Devin Barrington Ward in his Campaign Announcement video:
If you are interested in learning more about Devin Barrington Ward and his campaign for Georgia State Senate, visit his website www.devinbarringtonward.com.
We wish him much success on Tuesday May 19, 2020 on Election Day.
Georgia voters can easily register online: