/  02.25.2022

Brandon Scott is the youngest mayor Baltimore has seen in more than a century. 

The prominent politician got his start in government at the age of 23, going on to become one of the youngest representatives elected as Baltimore’s second district councilperson.

Earning the mayorship in 2020, the change-maker built his platform on being unapologetically Black. Mayor Scott is known to sport an afro and he prioritizes staying relatable to the residents of his city — even if his approach is considered politically incorrect. 

REVOLT caught up with the rising politician for Black History Month and discussed how he knew he wanted to become mayor at a young age, why he believes it is important to be authentically himself, and the impact Congressman Elijah Cummings has had on his life and career. Check out conversation below.

What was it like growing up in Baltimore City?  

I always say I think I had the best life. I grew up in Park Heights. My neighborhood had its challenges, but having the community, my family, my friends, and the experiences that I had was great. I went to great schools like Malcolm X Elementary School, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary/Middle and Mervo [Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School]. But really the experience that I had — like being [on my rec center’s track team], playing baseball and football, traveling all over the country as a Mervo Mustang — it’s the kind of life I want for all young people in Baltimore. To be able to be proud of their city, be proud of that chip that we all have on our shoulders, but to also experience the world and grow into their best selves. 

For those who are not from Baltimore, but feel they know the city from watching classic HBO show “The Wire,” would you say that is an accurate depiction?

Yes and no, right? Of course we know a lot of the things that were in the series. It’s very true and those things are very real. All the hard things — the decisions, the murder … all stuff I absolutely had to deal with growing up. But what didn’t get talked about is the greatness that happens in Baltimore every day. We call Baltimore ‘The City of Firsts’ for a reason. All the things that started here. For you as a Black journalist, the first African American newspaper was right here in Baltimore. All of that great experience, the culture. Not just the seafood, not just the club music, but how we handle ourselves, how we come together, how we celebrate and do things together. I think that’s the thing that was missed in the TV show and that folks, like myself, have to show people.  

At what moment did you realize you wanted to serve as Baltimore’s mayor? 

I wanted to be mayor from a very young age, and it was about trying to help my community be better. I remember my mom saying to me when I was angry about something that happened in our neighborhood that if I want something to change, I had to do it myself. So that’s what I decided to do. Who better than me? Who better than someone who lived through all of that, who had those experiences, to be in this position?  

How does it feel knowing that you are the youngest mayor the city has seen in a century? 

Well, for me, it feels normal. I think that from my standpoint, you have to remember it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me because I’ve been in City Hall since I was 23 and elected since 27. I also have friends around the country, mayors, who are younger than me. For me, it’s about being where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there, and I think that’s the key. My job is to make sure that I do this job with the utmost integrity, focus, dignity and respect for the people of Baltimore so that [younger] people can come behind me. It’s about getting in that door and opening it up wide for people to come. 

Name a political figure you have looked up to over the years.  

Congressman Elijah Cummings. He was the one that I could see and touch as a child. He came to our school, he came to my neighborhood, which most of them didn’t do, and then having him be a direct mentor for me from the time I was a staff member until he passed away. I can still recall the things he would say and think about what he would say to me if I were in a certain position.  

You’ve made headlines for sporting an afro despite society’s negative views on Black hair. Can you speak on owning your Blackness? 

I think that’s why I am so unapologetic about being who I am. Imagine being [told] as the mayor of Baltimore: ‘It’s not right. You can’t be a significant political figure [and wear an afro].’ Or, I get letters from people in the business community that say I need to cut my hair and who show me pictures of older Black elected officials, or prominent Black figures, with short haircuts in Baltimore. You know what I say to them? I say, ‘I guess no one has ever seen a picture of Frederick Douglass when he was in Baltimore changing this country and changing the world.’ He had an Afro much like mine. I’m going to rock it and be very proud of it and also do it to honor my grandma who passed away last year. 

Being mayor is a high-pressure position. How do you maintain balance, and what do you do for fun? 

Fun for me is mainly centered around athletics and athletic competition. When I’m not working, I want to keep myself in the best physical and mental shape in order to be the best person I can be… so I can be the best at my job. So, I play in basketball leagues, letting the 20-somethings know that me and my friends, even though we’re almost 40, we still can dominate. To all of those young men and women who are in their 20s, who participate in Volo sports leagues in southeast Baltimore, know that the Mayor cannot be guarded. Just because I’m the mayor doesn’t mean that I’m not going to score this touchdown on you. 

What advice would you give Baltimore youth with big dreams but limited resources? 

If you have big dreams and you’re from Baltimore and you are pushing yourself, you have everything you need because if you can survive this city, there is nothing or no one that can stop you. You can be the best at whatever you decide to be, you just have to do that. But do it in a way that is not just about you, in a way that holds you accountable, that allows you to hold those around you — your counterparts, your friends, your family — accountable, and allow them to do the same to you. Improving our city, improving yourself, should be done in a collective manner. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. That is not a sign of weakness. That’s a sign of strength that will allow you to get where you want to go. 

What’s next for you? Will you be seeking re-election? 

I very much intend to run for re-election. There’s no doubt about that. But when you think about the future for me, folks say ‘Oh man, you’re so young, you can be doing this forever.’ The answer is empathetically no because I was 23 when I came here. I’ll be 38 [soon]. Eventually, I’m going to want to do other things. I could run for higher office, Congress or something like that. I could just retire and teach at a place like Morgan [State University] or Coppin [State University]… go back to doing things that I miss very much, like coaching middle school basketball. 

How do you want to be remembered? 

First, I want to be remembered as a son of Baltimore. After that it’s really about being a true public servant that served his people and not himself. That was of the people, that was from those people. But at the end of the day, did the best that I could with the deepest amount of integrity, respect and dedication for the responsibilities that I have. That’s it. I don’t need to be revered in some big fancy way. That simple thing will suffice for me because that means that I will have done my job and done it the right way. 

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