Why I'm Running for Congress

06/21/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Kevin Powell Public speaker and activist; author, ’The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood'

Why I'm running for Congress
By Kevin Powell

I have decided to run for Congress here in Brooklyn, New York, because it is the right and necessary thing to do. As a long-time resident of this district, I am outraged by the arrested development in our communities, the many pockets of fear and despair in our neighborhoods and the halting sense that life will never improve for us. What Brooklyn needs more than ever is a leadership that builds bridges for the people of this community to reach a fresh, new destination -- one that is hallmarked by opportunity and prosperity. I am the candidate to build that bridge.

During my first Congressional campaign in 2008, I proposed that a brighter future is achievable for our district. I traveled a long and difficult road against a comfortably entrenched Democratic incumbent, but I did not give up on the possibilities of what our community and our nation can become. I am running again now in the 2010 election to turn our potential into reality.

As an activist and organizer for 25 long years, I have proven myself an effective agent of change, able to make a profound impact on the issues that matter to the American people. I have worked tirelessly on voter education and registration, cases of police misconduct, education, prison reform, employment policies, and relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina and Haiti. For many years I have made extensive inroads on violence prevention among young men and ending domestic violence and sexual assault. Most recently, I helped to negotiate the release of 6 young Brooklynites unfairly detained in Antigua and Barbuda. My life's work, my great calling, is to be a servant of the people, and I am relentless in my mission to help us help ourselves.

My passion for public service comes from my very humble beginnings. A young single mother raised me after my father abandoned us, so I know poverty, despair, and a fear of the unknown very well. But my mother, the very first leader I ever met, was not the kind of human being, nor the kind of woman, to give up. I owe everything that I have achieved to her, including the 10 books I have written, the 200 speeches I deliver nationwide each year, a long leadership resume, and yes, even this Congressional campaign.

The life lessons my mother taught me are principles that can make the 10th Congressional district a model for 21st century urban renewal. She told me that if you have faith in something greater than yourself, if you work tremendously hard and believe in the possibilities of your own life, if you get a quality education, if you have a visionary plan, not only will you survive, you will win. I am running for Congress because I am ready for us to win for our neighborhoods, for our children, and for ourselves.

I am ready for us to prove that a movement of progressive, multicultural people can take leadership into our own hands and achieve the version of the American Dream that is uniquely right for Brooklyn. I am ready for us to stand up to politicians who view their long-standing Congressional seats as a ticket to easy street. My leadership is rooted in such a deep love for people, all people, that individual success means little to me if a quality life is not attainable for us all. It is unacceptable for whole neighborhoods and communities to suffer from inadequate schools, limited job opportunities, horrific housing environments, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and nonstop violence, while the incumbent Congressman, my Democratic competitor, remains indifferent and often invisible on the streets of our district.

With all humility and God's grace I ask for your support in helping to build those bridges to a better future, to win the battle for the neighborhoods, schools, senior centers, housing, services and opportunities that we all deserve. I have thought long and hard about what I can do to help achieve this vision for my hometown, Brooklyn. I am running for Congress now, in 2010, because it's the right thing to do. It's time to get rid of politicians who sit comfortably on the shoulders of our suffering. I know, deep in my soul and heart that I cannot wait on the sidelines for something good to happen in our community or in our nation. I am stepping forward to be of service and I am asking for your support.