In a surprise move Wednesday night, prominent civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson filed to run for Baltimore mayor as a Democrat.
Known for his association with the Black Lives Matter movement, Mckesson enters the crowded primary race as the 13th Democratic candidate.
"Baltimore is a city of promise and possibility," he told The Baltimore Sun. "We can't rely on traditional pathways to politics and the traditional politicians who walk those paths if we want transformational change."
Here's what other media outlets have to say about Mckesson entering the race:
In a statement, Mr. Mckesson said that he was running to challenge the normal order of governing in the city. “We cannot rely on traditional pathways to politics and the traditional politicians who walk that path,” he wrote. “We have to challenge the practices that have not and will not lead to transformation.”
The election comes at a time when Baltimore serves as one of the primary anecdotes in the national conversation about the overlay of race, inequality, and inner-city public policy. A poll conducted late last year by The Baltimore Sun found that 58 percent of city primary voters believe the city is “on the wrong track.”
“I’ve lived through too many lofty promises and vague plans,” Mckesson said. “We’ve come to rely on a traditional model of politics only to be rewarded with disappointing results.”
Civil rights activist and Black Lives Mattermember DeRay Mckesson wants to join the system he has battled to fix, announcing on social media that he will run for mayor of Baltimore.
Mckesson, 30, left his job as a Minneapolis public-schools administrator and has been working full-time as an activist in the Black Lives Matter movement. His entry into the race represents a new phase in the movement, which has mainly focused on changing the system from the outside. In a November interview with New York, Mckesson said he thought "the world of politics could be a ripe world for those good at activism, at mobilizing, at protesting." He also said he was considering running for mayor in his hometown of Baltimore.
While Mckesson is the first civil-rights activist of his generation to seek higher office, he follows in well-worn footsteps. John Lewis, Julian Bond, Andrew Young, Marion Barry, and Jesse Jackson are among the most prominent figures in the civil-rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s to win major elections, and countless other activists of the era also sought transitions into governance.
In this presidential cycle, Mckesson has met with both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders as part of a broader effort to lobby for the end of "broken windows" policing and an increase in local oversight of police departments.
DeRay Mckesson's late entry into the mayoral race is filled with uncertainty. It's still unclear just how organized his campaign is, and how much of a chance he stands in a race that already has a big field of candidates just on the Democratic side.
But Mckesson's entrance into the race is a big deal: It's the first time a major Black Lives Matter activist has directly entered the political arena as a potentially serious candidate.
Mckesson was on Fortune’s 50 Greatest Leaders list last year for his involvement in the Black Lives Matter protests. The activist participated in protests following the death of Freddie Gray. As a member of Campaign Zero, a movement to end police brutality, Mckesson has met with White House officials and politicians to discuss civil rights.