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Young Democrats of Maryland honor former leader by doing 'the hard work’ | COMMENTARY

Joseph Kitchen, 34, president of the Young Democrats of Maryland, was missing for several days before he was found dead in a D.C. home.
Joseph Kitchen, 34, president of the Young Democrats of Maryland, was missing for several days before he was found dead in a D.C. home. (Courtesy of PGPD)

This summer the Young Democrats of Maryland (YDM) learned that our president, Joseph Kitchen, had passed away. We were all heartbroken, shocked and left without our dear friend, mentor and fearless leader. Joseph led YDM for eight years and was a trailblazer for young people across the state and country. It is devastating to lose him during a time when we all could use his ideals, his strength and his vision. He was a tireless advocate and an example to all of us of what it meant to fight for what we believe in. He was a true leader within YDM, the Democratic Party, and in the state. He had a vision for a better and more inclusive way, and never stopped working in the pursuit of that.

That is why the executive board of YDM know that the best way to honor Joseph’s legacy is to continue to do the hard work. Our challenge is to continue to do so with the same energy, conviction and zeal that Joseph would have.

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To do the hard work we will continue supporting Democrats in Maryland up and down the ballot this November. To do the hard work we will campaign to defeat the presidency and hostile agenda of President Donald Trump. We will ensure that young people always have a seat at the table, something Joseph never relented on. We will work across the state to bring together elected officials, activists and community leaders to build a future-focused, progressive agenda that works for young people looking to build their future right here in Maryland. In partnership with our terrific local chapter leaders, we will continue to build a grassroots network across the state to bring young people together, and activate the next generation of leadership for our party, and for all of Maryland.

Creating a coalition that will unite to push forward Joseph’s vision for our party and our state. Through all of this, we will be pushing for the change and reform that young people across this country have been calling for, leading the charge for racial and gender equity that has been denied in America since its founding. We, as an organization, will remain vocal and active throughout Maryland to bring forward an agenda that serves young people and promotes the ideals that Joseph spent his tragically short life fighting for.

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We will do this work just as Joseph did throughout his life: unapologetically and without pause. It is heartbreaking to lose Joseph at a moment when we need more people like him: those who push for change and lead us through challenging times. Joseph was our strength as an organization and a guiding force for the entire state. Joseph Kitchen cannot be replaced and never will be. We will move forward and continue what Joseph started. It will take a village to continue Joseph’s legacy, and we are that village.

The executive board of YDM will honor the life of our incredible leader by fighting for what we believe in this fall. The party and state Joseph spent his life serving needs, now more than ever, the vision and action he relentlessly advocated for. Please join us in honoring our dear friend Joseph Kitchen by joining us in this fight. Volunteer for your local Democratic club or precinct, to travel to nearby swing states and knock on doors to get out the vote for Democrats up and down the ballot. These are all things that Joseph would have wanted, and we implore you to follow his example.

Keenen Geter (info@ydmaryland.org) is writing on behalf of the board of the Young Democrats of Maryland.

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