December 14, 2017
Malcolm Kenyatta, a longtime community advocate, announced Thursday morning that he is running for state representative in the 181st district of Philadelphia.
As the grandson of civil rights leader Muhammad Kenyatta, who ran unsuccessfully for Philly mayor in 1975, Kenyatta has been active in local politics and community advocacy both as co-chair of the Liberty City Democratic Club and the campaign manager for the first openly LGBT municipal candidate ever endorsed by the Philadelphia Democratic Party. He was also a delegate to the 2016 Democratic Convention.
Kenyatta, 27 and a Democrat, posted Thursday on Facebook:
"I was born and raised in North Philadelphia and have committed myself to making it better since I ran for junior block captain at the age of 12. For too long, communities like mine have been held back and held down. For too long, neighborhoods all across the 181st district have watched as progress has been too slow or nonexistent. We deserve better. We demand better.
"As an advocate and organizer, I’ve tried to push, pull, and partner with elected officials, community leaders, and my neighbors to plot a path forward. But there are limits to what I can do from the outside. And we all know there’s so much left to be done.
"So I’m officially running for State Representative of the 181st District!
"I’m running to fight for what our neighborhoods can and should be. I’m running so future generations don’t have to suffer under the weight of systemic poverty. I’m running because the possibility of our communities is limitless."
The 181st district includes parts of North Philadelphia, Feltonville, Francisville, Glenwood, Hunting Park, Kensington, Northern Liberties and West Poplar.
The seat has been represented since 1989 by a Kenyatta relative, W. Curtis Thomas. In mid-October, City&State reported that sources claimed Thomas was considering retirement and thinking about supporting a Kenyatta campaign to succeed him. Thomas subsequently told Philadelphia magazine through a spokesman that he “plans to seek re-election and has no plans to retire.”
Kenyatta, a lifelong resident of North Philadelphia, also been involved with the Smith Memorial Playground and as president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization for Women's Education Fund. Kenyatta has also been honored with the Lax Award, BME Leader Award from the Knight Foundation and the Congressman Lucien Blackwell Guiding Light Award. During the tenure of President Barack Obama, Kenyatta was honored with the president's Volunteer Service Award.
Kenyatta, along with Seven Knots Production, released a video coinciding with the announcement. It was directed by Tim Harris and features Kenyatta, Bishop Rudolph Nash, Cathy Rex and other residents of North Philadelphia:
His announcement comes on the day of Kenyatta's late father's birthday.
"I can't think of a better way to honor him," he said.