Foran: You’ve talked about protest as a form of disruption. You could think about your bid for mayor as trying to disrupt the way government is run. But there’s a difference in being outside the power structure and challenging it and trying to become part of it. Do you think about what that means? How do you not become someone who compromises as you try to become part of that power structure you’ve been fighting against?
Mckesson: It will always be important that people continue to push on the system from the outside. It will also be important that people make the changes that we know are necessary on the inside.
Foran: Do you feel like it’s not fair to say that you’re going from being a protestor to trying to become a politician?
Mckesson: I’m not a politician. I’m somebody who knows the world can be better and I’m willing to fight for it.
Foran: As a movement, Black Lives Matter calls attention to the idea that not everybody’s lives are valued equally. If you become mayor, you’d be representing everybody. What do you think that would be like?
Mckesson: The work in activism has been about making sure that things are equitable and just, and that carries over. Equity is about making sure people get what they deserve. The city has to work for everybody. That is the goal of it. When I think about being mayor that is what my goal is. When it only works for one neighborhood or one community, it actually doesn’t work at all.
Foran: You talk about how an issue like safety isn’t just about policing, it’s about education and jobs. That sounds like you’re taking kind of an intersectional approach. Is that how you see your plan for the city?
Mckesson: Intersectional, the term, is about identity, but I get the way you’re using it. It’s like a holistic approach to safety. If you close your eyes and think about where you feel the most safe, you’re probably not going to tell me it’s in a room full of police. You feel safe where you’re around people that love you, when you have food and shelter, when you’re being pushed to be your best self and learn. Law enforcement is a part of the safety equation but it’s not the entire equation.
Foran: What does the city mean to you and how do you feel connected to it?
Mckesson: I love Baltimore. I was born and raised in this city. There truly is a charm to this city. I began my work as a youth organizer here in 1999, which has deeply informed everything I’ve done since. I founded an after-school out-of-school center on the Westside and was a senior leader in the headquarters of Baltimore City Public Schools. Baltimore is a city of promise.
Foran: So you feel like your roots go far and deep?
Mckesson: I don’t know how deeper it could go than being born and raised here, like I literally don’t get it.
Foran: You’ve played a role in the 2016 presidential race by meeting with candidates. Now that you’re running for mayor, does that reflect a change in your thinking in terms of change being more possible at the city-level or the local-level than the national level?