In the spring and summer, the Rev. Jamal Bryant was frequently seen leading protests against police brutality and other criminal justice issues. In the fall, the People’s Empowerment Temple pastor is transitioning to the campaign trail.
Bryant announced he is running for the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday morning. He is running for the 7th Congressional District seat, which could put him in a race with current U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings.
The pastor led community protests calling for justice in Freddie Gray’s case in the first days following the 25-year-old’s April 19 as a result of injuries he sustained in police custody, and later delivered the eulogy at Gray’s funeral. About a month after Gray’s death, he shifted topics in a protest that sealed off exits during morning rush hour on I-395. In that case, he was calling for the state to halt construction on a new juvenile jail in Baltimore.
Bryant dropped out of high school before his senior year and earned his GED. He went on to get degrees from Morehouse College, Duke and a doctorate from the Graduate Theological Foundation. Bryant said he wanted to move beyond protest to become a policy voice on economic inequality, police-community relations, education and other issues.
“We don’t need leadership as usual,” he said at a Monday morning press conference outside the Freddie Gray Youth Empowerment Center in West Baltimore. “We need a brand new voice, vision and opportunity.”
While a race between Bryant and longtime Congressman Elijah Cummings would very much please fans of soaring rhetoric, it’s not clear if the two leaders will be sitting across from each other when the electoral music stops. Cummings has been on a list of potential candidates who may run to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, and his own visibility during the spring unrest only further fueled that talk.
The Congressional seat represents a big chunk of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County.
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