Civic engagement is key to any great arts advocacy. On March 31st, the BMore Youth Arts Advocacy Council traveled to Annapolis to experience the lawmaking process of the Maryland General Assembly. Council members Dinnel Boyd, Grey Dylan, J’Naya Harris, Myra Hicks, and Carrie Snowden arrived on Bladen Street and went straight to the Maryland State House to see the Senate in action. They were greeted by the incredible Tamika Winkler, Chief of Staff for Senator Cory McCray who gave the council a brief tour before showing them to the Senate lounge to meet with Senator McCray. For more than 30 minutes Senator McCray talked to members about the legislative process, what it means to be a leader, answered questions and discussed everything in between. It was everything!
From there, council members met with Delegate Michele Guyton and thanked her for championing the arts statewide. They wrapped up the trip by visiting the offices of President Ferguson and Chair Maggie McIntosh. BAEI Manager, Sheena Morrison interviewed several of BYAAC members about their experience over pizza back at the Motorhouse. Arts Every Day’s Executive Director, Julia Di Bussolo was also in attendance for the interview.
Sheena Morrison: What was the coolest aspect of the trip?
Myra Hicks: Meeting Senator Cory McCray.
Carrie Snowden: It was an amazing thing to get as much time as we did with the Senator.
Grey Dylan: I have a hard time trusting anyone with authority. It was good to meet him. He is the first senator that I ever felt that I could trust.
Carrie Snowden: He didn’t necessarily code switch so much and was very comfortable talking with us.
J’Naya Harris: Yeah, he shared a lot and I liked that he told us about scholarships and stuff that some people might not know about. So it would give more people opportunities.
Myra Hicks: It was hard to come up with really good questions because I was speechless and mesmerized.
Sheena Morrison: What was the most valuable information for each of you?
In unison: The scholarship information! [Laughter]
Grey Dylan: Learning about the bill process itself. How it gets passed in the chambers and Governor Hogan signing it afterwards. I also didn’t know that in addition to a veto he could just not sign it and it could still get passed automatically. That was really interesting.
Dinnel Boyd: His [Senator McCray’s] expansion upon what leadership is… I remember him saying concentration, and having patience with people…that was an important lesson for me.
Carrie Snowden: I also loved Ms. Tamika, how she was so on it. He [Senator McCray] came in and talked to us a bit. Then she was like, you gotta go on the floor. We heard him speak and then he came right back to speak with us. I was surprised that it wasn’t as uptight a space as I thought it was.
Myra Hicks: I also loved the part when he said money isn’t everything and how when he was younger he used to chase money and how as he grew as a person he realized that money isn’t the thing that he should be chasing… It’s how many people he can gather to go to the finish line.
Sheena Morrison: Do you have any questions for the team, Ms. Julia?
Julia Di Bussolo: Did you see anything today that made you think, “I would wanna do that in the future?” Does politics seem interesting to you? Or even the work that Chief Tamika Winkler does in helping the senator manage all of the bills that he has come in?
Carrie Snowden: When he was talking about how they made a map and stuff like that…you need someone in graphics to do that. I was thinking about that. And we walked right in and it said graphics on the door. Ms Sheena pointed out that art is everywhere. And you can do certain things like that.
J’Naya Harris: I just think it’s cool to be on a bill and speak about it. So I’m really interested in doing something like that, like making decisions and reading testimonies. So, I just think the whole thing is just interesting.
Dinnel Boyd: I just don’t know. It wouldn’t be my cup of tea, but I’m always willing to help someone. So, I feel like I could do it if I really wanted to.
Grey Dylan: I don’t want to work there.
Myra Hicks: I definitely want to work there.
Dinell Boyd: I feel like the place is too organized for me.
Sheena Morrison: Why were you so clear about not wanting to work there, Grey?
Grey Dylan: A little bit about what Dinnel said. I feel like I’m more chaotic and I know I would cause problems there. I mean the whole time I was thinking about the best graffiti spots in there. I think I’d rather stay a full time artist and keep my ideals and just have friends who are politicians.
Sheena Morrison: So tell me more, Myra, about why you’d want to work there.
Myra Hicks: I’ve always had a thing for politics and I want to make a big change. I’ve always dreamed about being a politician.
Sheena Morrison: Well, the Senator started out as an electrician, right?
Myra Hicks: I’m starting off as an artist, chef and a baker.