In February 2017, I jumped in the race for school board in Broward County. I did not know what I was signing up for. I thought I was going to run a regular campaign just like everything else. There are issues facing our county. Some might interest people, some might be bring finances. People would attack me, by saying that I'm "too young", or that I'm "just a kid..no life experience." I knew that was false. But more importantly, I knew that my age would be a larger part of the discussion. My life has been many things. Painful, hard, excruciating in some instances, and full of achievements. From the dusk of the night my innocence was taken from me at a young age, until the dawn of the day I raised my right fist and took the pledge to stand with the people all the way. Of course, only a few people knew my life story and the experiences that made me the person I am today. I learned quickly, that not everyone cares to ask. It was discouraging. I knew the issues, but no matter what: my age would always come up.
I know about the $800m General Obligation Bonds approved by voters in 2014, and how that money is not being spent or accounted for transparently. I know about the sexual assault and violence in schools. I know about the bullying and harassment of professionals in the workplace, and the crumbling school infrastructure. I understand that teachers are paid too little, and that our district is top heavy. I know because I've been attending school board meetings, and functions since 9th grade. Now I'm about to be a college sophomore. But some people don't care. Some people care more about my age and race, and not my ideas. Knowing this at the time, I held my head up and forward march.
I attended more meetings. Met hundreds of teachers, and thousands of students. Gathered endorsements, brought attention and media to the issues I ran on. Gave voice to students, tried to solve the issue of unsafe working conditioning of mold, and mildew. Everything was going good. There was a small obstacle in January, but we were winning this thing! And then I woke up on February 14th, 2018. I woke up, checked snapchat and saw my close friend Brandon Dasent's snap story. He attends Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I always watch his story. He posts funny stuff all the time, which lightens my day. I go for a run, which I do daily. I jog, then check my Facebook. And a message reads from an unknown person:
"You're a gay n*****. You think a gay n***** can win a school board seat? You're funny! Go jump on a boat and go back to Africa. #MAGA!!!"
I smile, then put my headphones back into my ear. I finish my run. I make a few calls, do some campaign related business, then I settle. Comfort and warmth, as I lay on my room couch, and fall into a deep sleep. A sleep I will never forget. It was a dream of myself playing outside with my nieces and nephews. They had grown, by numerous years. It was beautiful. They were beautiful. I had never had a dream like this before. So much light, so much good things happening. Then my alarm went off. I woke up, grumpy as usual. It was time to go to my study group for my college oceanography class. I had promised friends we'd spend Valentine's Day studying for our oceanography exam. I wanted to leave early to meet my friends at Broward College. But before I could even put on my shoes, my phone starts to buzz. "Who could it possibly be?" I ignore my Facebook Messages, and open Snapchat. Brandon had posted to his Snapchat story. "I'm about to be nosy." I click the story, and it reads something about his school being shot up. "My school is being shot up", and a picture of him and his friends on a field outside. "What?" I begin to read all my messages, and then it started. Hell. Panic. Unconscionable fear. I try to text Brandon and every person I knew at Stoneman Douglas. No reply. No reply. No reply. I had not felt this level of panic in quite some time. "Were they shot?" I shuffled into my shoes and ran out the door into an Uber to the Broward County Governmental Center. When I arrived, it was silent in the downtown Fort Lauderdale government building. My mentor, County Commissioner Dale Holness had just been briefed. County Commissioner Udine had went to Parkland, which is his home and where he served two terms as Mayor. Everybody was calm, but sadness and grief made waves through the center. I was in panic, and tried to hide every single aspect of it. I couldn't stop thinking about Brandon's Snapchat story from the morning, which was full of life and laughter. I couldn't stop thinking about everyone I knew in Parkland. Friends, frenemies, acquaintances, and people I knew since elementary school. I was unable to tell if they were alive or not. That was hard. That was really, really hard for me. Tears were now rolling down my eyes as I watched CNN, and the live updates at the High School which is 15 minutes away. Then a friend texts me.
Friend: "Elijah. You know Nick did this?"
Elijah: "I'm sorry?"
Friend: "The shooting.."
Friend: "Nick Cruz from Cross Creek! We went to school together, your 9th grade year!"
and then I froze.
Yes, Nick. That Nick. Cruz. Crazy Nick Cruz. The Nick whom I knew would be in some type of trouble before age 25. The guy I sat across from in my first semester of High School, before I transferred to Fort Lauderdale High School. Now the sadness begin to turn into confusion. But why? Why would Nick do something like this? Denial. I get a text message from a close friend, Setareh. She asks me what my campaign response would be. At that point, I was just speechless. I did not know what to say. The thoughts begin rolling in: "Friends could be dead, I know the guy who did this, I'm not prepared, I'm just a kid.." I tell Setareh that I'll let her know soon. I call my Campaign Manager, Damara. We discuss how we're going to move forward. I suggested that we suspend the campaign temporarily for the time being. There was too much confusion, and I couldn't believe what I saw on social media. Chaos. Political outrage. Anger. It was a very hard night, and few days. I was angry. Angry at the government for failing my peers. For allowing them to be terrorized at a public school. Anger at the Superintendent for not spending the bond money fast enough to address school safety. Anger at the county for having coward deputy sheriffs at the school. Anger at the state for not addressing mental illness and gun violence. Anger at the federal government for well, everything. I had to attend vigils, meetings, comfort kids I didn't know, and respond to people who were looking up to me. The conspiracy theorists started to attack me, calling me a controlled candidate. I was truly discouraged. But I knew that I couldn't quit. I had made a promise to the kids that I would protect them, and win this thing for them. "We can't relate to them. They're your peers. You try talking to them." It was hard. Hard making condolence calls.
The shooting had completely torn into the heart of Broward County. Our home was now the center of international attention. Which meant: the time was now. The time for youth leadership, and they proved it. The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School proved that young people can lead the path to change. February, March, and April has been the hardest months of my political career. My leadership was tested. My ability to lead was put on display, and I've learned so much. My eyes have been opened, and things started to change for me personally. I couldn't wait to hug my nephew every night and I tell him that I loved him. I learned how to grieve and let myself cry. I learned to value and appreciate the people in my life, because no one can ever know when the end is near. Just as easy as it was for my friends to be shot at, is no different for any of us.
People started to take my campaign a lot more serious. Fundraising increased by 100% in a 2-month period. I've built partnerships with people, and have made new friends. I've learned my weaknesses and strengths, and now so many people believe in me. The kids look up to me, but actually: I look up to them. Especially the black and brown youth of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who took the charge even when they were ignored. Their unbelievable strength has given me power, and I will use that power to fight for their ideals. I will fight for teachers, I will fight for substitute teachers, I will fight for students, immigrants, the LGBTQIA+ community, undocumented or dreamer, the underprivileged, the young ladies, public education, and for change. Why Elijah?
Because, I have been prepared.
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“I know him and he'll do an awesome job. He always fight for the us Rights and will ensure our children get the services they need.”
July 15, 2018
My friends, the tremendous honor of running for office is one of the highest possible honors. This campaign has taught me a lot. It has taught me that no one can do anything alone. It takes the courage and the unity of people working together, to do great things. If you don't believe me, just look at what we've been able to do in the most recent months. We out-raised an incumbent for most of the election cycle. We acquired endorsements of working class people and progressive organizations. We got the media to take us seriously. We qualified for the ballot in June, and now we're heading into the early stages of voting. None of that was possible without you all, and the work that you made possible.
It's July, and the first voters are about to cast their ballots. However, we are underfunded going into the Get Out The Vote season. We need to raise a few thousand more dollars, to even get close enough to our final goal. Raising enough money to run campaigns are extremely difficult. Especially being that we do not take donations or campaign contributions from special interest groups, lobbyists, corporations, or SuperPacs. We are, and have been, funded 100% by regular people just like you.
I am asking for your support, if you can contribute to our GOTV fund right here on CrowdPAC. This is a desperate request, and our victory depends on what you decide to do. We have witnessed upset victories all across the nation; and for the first time in decades, we've seen a surge in young people and women of color running for office. This is our opportunity to latch on to this movement, and change the face of our government to young and progressive. We've done it before, and we can do it again.
Your next school board member
May 15, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Elijah Manley to file for qualification to run for School Board, At-Large Seat #8 for the elections of August 28th, 2018
May 15th, 2018
Fort Lauderdale, Florida – Elijah Manley has been running for the school board of Broward County, At-large Seat #8 since February 2017. Manley is the youngest candidate to run for school board in the county’s history, at age 19. He has raised more than $10k as of April 2018, to challenge incumbent school board member Donna Pilger Korn. As one of the youngest candidates to run in the 2018 elections, Mr. Manley has had his fair share of ageism, political attacks and smears. However, he has chosen to remain in this race in the wake of high political polarization and welcomes Mr. Ryan Petty and others to the race.
Mr. Manley believes that it is beyond time that this district gets to work to make our schools safer, and more transparent. He believes that this can be accomplished by rebuilding our schools and its crumbling infrastructure, having transparency with the remaining $645m in the General Obligations Bond, and holding the Superintendent accountable. None of these are easy tasks, and Mr. Manley will be the first to tell you. Since joining this race, he has taken upon himself the responsibility of exposing unsafe and unhealthy school conditions. Rather those conditions be mold and mildew, or security lapses, Manley has been the first to make these known to media. Manley believes that we have a “top-heavy” school district, underpaid teachers, and non-instructional staff. We have a district that has failed the students, parents, and community members of Parkland and beyond.
Manley also affirms his support of the PROMISE program, which has been under attack recently, following the tragic and unfortunate shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February. The PROMISE program has reduced the recidivism rate, and has created an alternative to prison for some of the county’s most desperate students. Most of these students deserve the opportunity to remain in the classroom and learn from their mistakes. However, he believes that we must reform the program to include more people and that we must move to the practice of restorative justice, and address lack of mental health funding.
On Tuesday June 5th, 2018, Mr. Manley will be filing for qualifications to run for the at-large seat in 2018. Following his filing, he will be holding a press conference in the lobby of the Broward County Governmental Center at noon. Mr. Manley is looking forward to a prosperous and victorious election cycle, and wishes all the candidates the best.
Please double your contribution and/or make it monthly.
May 9, 2018
The month of April 2018 was a month of success. The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sent shock waves throughout our county, and the country. Since then, I have had the opportunity to connect with some of the most powerful young people in the history of our country. I've learned a lot, and I take those lessons with me every day. My leadership skills were put on display, and I had to prove myself to everyone.
The students (mostly students of color) have started a youth revolution in this country. They are talking about real issues facing real people. School-to-prison pipeline, police violence, institutionalized racism, and so many more. That's why I am running for school board, and every day people are starting to join the movement. We have the chance to radically transform our education system, to one that works for all of us and not just those with access to funds.
So here's what I need from you. The election is about three and a half months away, and we're going to need so much help. I need your help, so chip in $30 today to help me win this race! If you're already contributing or have already contributed, feel free to renew your donation pledge, or increase the amount of money you're giving to the campaign. We are tens of thousands of dollars short on what we need to make this a winning revolution.
If you're not able to contribute, feel free to sign up to phone bank, canvass, or join our GOTV effort. This election is very winnable, and it will be determined by how many people step up and participate in this effort! I want to be one of the leader that help transform our political system. Our education system is struggling because we have allowed for so many years, a small few to control our curriculum, our budget, and how we spend money. That has to end. We must return power to the people.
So, for the rest of May: I will be knocking doors, attending town halls and forums, meeting voters and comforting our children. Qualifying starts on June 4th, and I will file paperwork at that time to be on the ballot in August. Your help is needed, four our children.
February 9, 2018
We have been officially out-raised. Donna Korn has hit the books with $3,000 more than us, thanks to Super PAC money. Elijah has pledged at the very beginning of this race, that he will not take PAC or corporate money, and he intends to stand firmly by that commitment. However, Donna Korn doesn't. So that means that this commitment comes at a cost, and that's why our team is asking you to donate to our victory fund by doubling your contribution and/or making your contribution monthly!
There is so much at stake here, and that's why we need you to stand with us now. This is one of our campaign's most important months on books, and we need to show strength. Korn may be building a corporate stash awaiting her coffers but we're building the People's Warchest and we need your help.
Contribute today. The maximum individual campaign contribution allowable by law is $1,000. Message approved by Elijah Manley, non-partisan candidate for the Broward County School Board, At-large Seat #8. Contributions are not tax-deductible.
September 1, 2017
According to the Broward County Public Schools' Student Services Department, 2,752 students in Broward are homeless. In the 6th largest school district, students have no place to go.
Of the 2,752:
3% = Preschool aged
51% = Elementary School aged (K-5th grade)
19% = Middle School aged (6th-8th grade)
27% = High School aged (9th-12th grade)
Yes, I understand that this is absolutely disgusting. It brings pain to my heart to know that there are absolutely no programs to help Broward's most desperate and needy. Shame. My platform calls for the eradication of student homeless by creating district-funded housing projects to house every family in Broward County. I remember a time in my life when I was homeless. Those were dark days, and I am grateful that I had family who were prosperous enough to assist my mother and siblings. Not every child has that privilege.
This summer, I have had the opportunity to assist five homeless students in Broward County. Five. That number is too many. We discovered that there were absolutely no programs to help the children I encountered. In the richest country in the world, and the 6th largest school district in the United States of America, this is embarrassing! That's why upon my election, I will introduce legislation to eradicate homelessness, build affordable housing; and send out a memo to principals requiring them to identify and assist families in need.
Not only is this the right thing to do, but it is the only progressive thing we can do. In the era of neo-liberalism, for-profit education, privatization, and the rise of the non-profit industrial complex, we need leaders who are going to stand up and fight back. We need leaders who are not afraid to say the truth, no matter how hard it is or who it hurts. The unconventional truth, must be heard. Working class people are struggling, while Broward's powerful politicians do nothing. Help me get elected, and I guarantee you: I will fight like no other ever has. I will take boundless efforts to improve your lives.
August 28, 2017
From here on, it's home run time! 365 days until the election on August 28th, 2018. So far, we've raised nearly $3k and 3 major endorsements. Now we have an opportunity to win this election by being real smart. If you haven't already, please contribute and make it monthly. We're going to need it. You'll be able to sign up to phone bank really soon.
Contact us to learn about how to canvass, to receive a walk-list, or other means of getting involved. We have something they don't have--momentum. The momentum we have seen thus far is shedding the spotlight on issues facing working class people and students in Broward County. Issues like the student homeless epidemic which currently claims 2,752 lives; starving children, and a lack of educational material for success.
We have an important opportunity to make change last forever. We have to stand up and fight the corrupt plutocrats who are stealing our resources and our educational sovereignty. It isn't that hard to be honest, it's manageable. Before you know it, we'll be at third base. Bring it home.
June 23, 2017
Good afternoon supporters! I thank you so much for being loyal and dedicated to making Broward Schools a better place to learn! Just today, I was informed that my opponent has filed to run for District #8. Now more than ever, I need your help. We have the ability to transform a corrupt school district into a model school district. With your help, we will do this. So many things are on the line, like: our students' futures. Help me make it brighter than ever.
April 3, 2017
It has been about 2 weeks since Elijah declared that he'd be running for Broward County School Board in District 8. Not only has dozens of people contributed online or in person, but hundreds of people across Broward are joining our movement. This campaign has the potential for victory. When we join teams and fight the establishment, we will win. We win with ideas, issues, and a platform. We have something to offer, like no other.
Continue to spread our message across Broward and the country! We will give a report every Monday on how much we've raised. Keep the momentum coming! The establishment is scared.