When I first contemplated running for Congress about a month and a half ago, I prayed for clarity above anything else. After spending most of my adult life speaking out for justice and standing up for equality of opportunity for all, I wanted to make sure that I was seeking public office for the greater good and that I was not being driven by ego or the longing to be validated.
After witnessing my parents labor intensively to provide food and shelter for their children—with disaster always one or more missed paychecks away—I always felt compelled to speak up for justice. After enduring homelessness for more than two years, my determination to speak up for equality of opportunity transformed from passion to conviction.
Poverty, inequality and the stresses the poor, working and middle-class go through are not just campaign slogans, they are issues that I care deeply about. Every day I see a mother shopping at a grocery store while tending to her children and comparing prices, I am reminded of the struggles my mom went through when I was growing up. Each time I drive Uber on the side to make ends meet, I think back about my father who had to hold down multiple jobs to provide for his family.
When I run into a homeless man panhandling on Little River Turnpike, my heart breaks thinking about the friends I left behind at shelters in South Carolina, Tennessee, Iowa and Colorado. My campaign is driven by a deep desire to represent workers and to give voice to the voiceless. Billionaires and millionaires have 435 Representatives, 100 Senators and a President in DC, I am running so we can have one seat at a table that is not monopolized by corporate interests.
However, I have learned over the years that the injustices of the world cannot be overcome if we do not first heal the wounds of our past. To this end, I am not running for Congress as much as I am walking to heal within in order to manifest healing without. You will not get a sanitized version of my life, you will get the authentic me, a man who made mistakes but tries to do better, a father who works to jobs to ensure a better life for my son and a believer in an awesome God who fails short yet is redeemed by my faith.
When I asked God for clarity back in January, I did so at a statue in Old Town Alexandria dedicated to two sisters who tried to escape slavery only to be sold back into bondage. I prayed to be freed from the pains of the past in order to appreciate the blessings of the present and to have a future unencumbered by memories of old hurts. As I pray for this outcome for myself, I pray it for Virginia, for America and humanity writ large.
It is with this in mind that I am introducing my first campaign event called Heal Walk. This morning, I will be conducting a two-mile #HealWalk starting at Bruin Slave Jail located at 1707 Duke St, Alexandria, Virginia and concluding at Freedom House Museum. I started by myself and my sister Mariam joined me the next week; what started with one could one day become many.
This video below was recorded in front of the statue dedicated to the two sisters who ended up being sold back into slavery. I pray that America finally heals from the pains of the past, for the redemptive power of love to overcome the regressive hold of greed and pride and for us to hold hands just like the two sisters are doing in the statue and walk towards forgiveness and solidarity with our fellow brothers and sisters without bias to our differences.