Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown picked up an attractive addition to his glory wall Monday as he collected a leadership award from the national NAACP at its gathering in Orlando for his efforts at repealing the death penalty in Maryland.
Brown played a supporting role in Gov. Martin O'Malley's succesful effort to aboiish capital punishment -- a drive the governor undertook under the persistent urging of NAACP national President Benjamin Jealous.
Jealous pointedly noted that Brown is attempting to become the first black governor of a state south of the Mason-Dixon Line since Virginia's L. Douglas Wilder was elected in 1989.
Brown praised the NAACP's efforts to end executions in the United States, calling the death penalty unfair, immoral and racially biased. He accurately stated that 80 percent of Maryland's death row inmates are African-Americans whose victims were white. He did not mention that there are only five condemned inmates in Maryland and that they remain there because O'Malley has not acted to commute their sentences even after signing the repeal bill in May.
In national terms, the lieutenant governor said that while 23 percent of death penalty-eligible cases involve blacks killing whites, 70 percent of death sentences come in those cases.
Brown also addressed the acquittal of George Zimmerman Saturday in the killing of 17-year-old teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida, noting that he is the father of two teenage boys. He urged NAACP members to help build a society that nurtures young African Americans and looks first "at their potential and not at them as a threat."