Kimberly Klacik asks in her congressional campaign add, “Do you care about Black lives?”
Strolling down a downtrodden Baltimore street, Ms. Klacik says, “Democrats don’t want you to see this,” before she invites viewers, “Walk with me.”
“Do you care about Black Lives Matter? The people that run Baltimore don’t. I can prove it,” Ms. Klacik promises as she strolls down a Baltimore street, more representative.
Jillian Kay Melchior, a writer for the WSJ, took Ms. Klacik up on her offer to walk around Baltimore, even though an UBER driver warned Ms. Melchior that it wasn’t safe, “even in daylight.”
The Seventh Congressional District is majority-black and overwhelmingly Democratic. Even before Covid, the unemployment rate was above 6%, and nearly 1 in 10 families lived in poverty. Burned and blighted buildings give the neighborhood a war-torn look. Drug use is rampant, and I walk by one man who has passed out on his feet, leaning against a building in a gravity-defying slump.
“It’s very hard for me to say to anybody in this neighborhood, ‘This is a land of opportunity, you can do anything,” Ms. Klacik says, “because they will look around and be like, ‘Are you crazy?’ ”
Ms. Klacik runs a nonprofit, Potential Me, that helps impoverished, homeless and formerly incarcerated women prepare for job interviews by providing them with professional clothing and makeovers. She’s learned that Baltimore’s black residents have good reason for feeling they need to assert that they matter. Democrats have long taken their votes for granted. But Ms. Klacik also blames her fellow Republicans for giving up on Baltimore and places like it.
“I’m serious when I say people have never met a Republican, and then they find out what we’re about, and they’re like, ‘I like you,’ ” she says. “If more Republicans came out here and talked to people, they would see why some people are upset. And then they could say, ‘You know what, now I see, here’s my idea on a solution.’ ”
As we wander the streets of Baltimore, a young man named David Downes hails Ms. Klacik from across the street. “I recognize you!” he says, pulling out his phone to record the encounter. “She really be out here in the city walking around,” he says to the camera. Mr. Downes tells me he’s never voted Republican before. “I’ve never seen nobody running and doing what she’s doing, actually walking around and show the city. She seems like she really cares. So I’ll vote for her.”
Ms. Klacik has praised Trump for taking the lead and reaching out to African American voters. Now, it’s up to the wider GOP to follow suit by actively campaigning in the trash-filled streets of deep-blue America.
Read more about Kimberly Klacik here.