DeRay Mckesson: from Center Director to Baltimore Mayoral candidate

For Higher Achievement scholars, DeRay Mckesson’s story has been an inspiration ever since he launched Higher Achievement’s West Baltimore Achievement Center in 2009.  But now, children all across Baltimore will have a chance to learn about DeRay as he begins his campaign for Mayor of Baltimore.

At just 30 years old, DeRay is an impressive example of what tenacity and perseverance can do for young people. After serving as a Teach for America teacher, he brought the grit and persistence required to launch a Higher Achievement center in the Baltimore neighborhood of Ashburton. While running center, he fostered a remarkable center environment that set high expectations and provided scholars with caring role models.

DeRay was recently featured on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Martin Luther King Day. He and Stephen had a powerful discussion about “All Lives Matter,” presidential candidates, white privilege, police brutality (including DeRay’s current focus, Campaign Zero), why white people are uncomfortable talking about race, and more. It was a rich moment in late night television, all in less than ten minutes. Check out the video here.

About a week later, DeRay also appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah for a discussion addressing similar topics (check it out here). He’s also well-known for his work following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August of 2014 – work that DeRay told Noah was prompted by Twitter. The collective voices of those on the ground, as expressed through 140-character tweets, moved Mckesson to join the people he heard.

At Higher Achievement, we emphasize scholar voice. Everyone has an innate desire to feel heard and acknowledged – and young people are no different. We are grateful for the impact that DeRay had on scholars and their voice while he worked with Higher Achievement. In Baltimore, we look forward to hearing scholar voices loud and clear at the coming Love Out Loud event (March 10th!), where students will  stand up on stage in front of hundreds of people and perform original compositions about what love means to them.