Emanuel G. McCray, who was a 2016 Green Party primary candidate for mayor of Baltimore and a United Workers organizer, died Aug. 13 from cancer at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The Pikesville resident was 39.
“Emanuel was truly committed to seeing a Baltimore that works for all of us, no matter your income or the neighborhood that you happened to live in,” said Joshua Harris, a candidate for the House of Delegates from the 40th District, in a statement. “He was a veteran that served his country, and went on to serve his community as an organizer for fair wages.”
“You always knew Emanuel was in the room,” said Luis Larin, leadership organizer for United Workers and a Baltimore resident. “He was very intelligent, strong and said what needed to be said at the moment.”
Emanuel Gene McCray was born in Baltimore and raised in Milford Mill. He was the son of Gene McCray, a postal worker, and Patricia McCray-Miller, a Maryland Mass Transit Light Rail supervisor.
He attended Randallstown High School, and from 1996 to 1997, when he lived in Manning, S.C., he was a student at Manning High School.
After returning from Manning, he graduated in 1998 from Milford Mill Academy. He attended Morgan State University and studied political science. He spent a decade in the Army Reserves, completing tours of duty in Iraq and Bosnia.
“He was a fierce advocate for human rights, as he dedicated most of his adult life fighting for those who did not have a voice,” wrote his sister, Candace McCray of Baltimore, in a biographical profile of her brother.
“Emanuel began his human rights career as an advocate for the Workers United,” she wrote. “It was his goal to ensure that everyone had fair treatment, equal opportunity for success and a good quality of life regardless of their religious beliefs, race, color, or creed.
“It was his goal to make a positive difference and much needed change in the city of Baltimore,” Ms. McCray wrote.
When it came to activism, “Emanuel was always one of the front line workers,” Mr. Larin said.
He was employed as an hourly worker in a restaurant at the Inner Harbor’s ESPN Zone that was owned by the Walt Disney Co., when its owner closed it without notifying workers.
“With the help of the human rights organization United Workers, some of us organized and filed a lawsuit to get a decent severance,” Mr. McCray explained in a 2016 Baltimore Fishbowl interview.
“Though it took a few years, we ended up winning our lawsuit. That experience opened my eyes to how some in corporate America feel about their employees,” he said. “The company fought hard to keep the money they owed us. I also learned that regular people can make a change by coming together and fighting for the little guy.”
“He went on to serve his community as an organizer for fair wages, affordable housing, and paid sick leave in Maryland,” said Mr. Harris in his statement.
“The first time I met Emanuel he was working with United Workers on the Housing as a Human Right Campaign, what we now know as the 2020 Housing Trust Fund,” said Mr. Harris, who competed against Mr. McCray in the 2016 Green Party mayoral primary and won the nomination. “I am proud to have known him.”
In addition to being an outspoken advocate for change, Mr. McCray enjoyed music and sports, and was a New York Giants fan.
His musical interests ranged from rap to vintage R&B and gospel.
His favorite gospel hymn was “I Won’t Complain,” written by the Rev. Paul Jones.
“I love music. I am a DJ,” Mr. McCray explained in the Baltimore Fishbowl interview.
A deeply religious person, Mr. McCray had been a member of Power of Faith Evangelical Church, Fullness of Christ Evangelical Church and Love Alliance Ministries. Since 2014, he had been a member of New Elizabeth Baptist Church.
“He was an amazing example of a public servant that loved this city and worked every single day to make it better for all of us,” Mr. Harris said.
Funeral services were held Aug.19 at his church.
In addition to his sister, Mr. McCray is survived by his fiancee, Latrisha Mann of Baltimore; his mother, Patricia McCray-Miller and stepfather, Northern Miller, of Manning, S.C.; three sons, McKai McCray, Demariyus McCray and Tory Richardson, all of Baltimore; two daughters, Brianna Magwood and Xayelyn McCray, both of Baltimore; a brother, Jonah McCray of Baltimore; two stepbrothers, Rodrick Miller of Detroit and Mandrake Miller of Florida; and a stepsister, Tiffany Joy Miller of Atlanta.
NOTE: An earlier version of this story should have noted that Mr. McCray was one of the primary candidates in the 2016 Green Party mayoral race. It has been clarified here.