Maryland State Senator Catherine Pugh is the President of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.
Who inspired you to get into politics?
I realized as a child that voting was important because my parents would get dressed up like they were going to church when they went to vote. They would announce when they were departing, “we are going to vote.” As a result I couldn’t wait to grow up and go vote so I could be fancy like them. My dad wore his Sunday suit and my mother would have on her glass beads or pearls, hat and gloves and a beautiful dress. My Dad always talked about politics. He would say if you don’t vote, don’t complain. Voting meant to my parents participating in shaping a better life for our community. My parents were my inspiration.
Why are you a Democrat?
My parents were Democrats. They taught us that Democrats represented the principles that provided and opportunity for all Americans and is dedicated to equality and justice for all. I grew up in a Democratic Household with parents and grandparents who talked about the Kennedy’s and Dr. Martin Luther King like they had been our relatives. As an elected official and a registered democrat since I was old enough to vote I too have become dedicated to the principles of this organization. As a Democrat you don’t just root for the underdog you fight for equality of opportunity. I have embraced the principles of the Democratic Party and successfully passed over a 100 pieces of legislation that seek to expand economic opportunity, improve the lives of others, provide services for the least of us, and provide equal educational opportunities.
What advice I would you give women of color that want to run for public office?
Run! Women are underrepresented in elective office and women of color are grossly under represented. To expand our voices we must pay more attention to the opportunities to participate in the political process. Whenever the opportunity presents itself take advantage of it. To learn more about the political arena seek out an elected official as a mentor. You may volunteer or seek employment with them. Also learn more about NOBEL Women, a national organization of Black Elected Women. Finally, be involved with your community and understand the issues that impact them so that you may fairly represent them.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History month is a great time to celebrate our heritage with other segments of our community. It is a period in which we reflect on our journey as Americans and as African Americans whose history is laced with many challenges that we have overcome.
It is a reminder of how far we have come and how much further we much travel in order to achieve true equality and economic parity.