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.."

Elijah: "Yes.."

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.


Show your support for this campaign by endorsing it and sharing why!

  • endorsed

    “I endorse Elijah Manley because I believe that the young people of this country are the hope for a better future.”

  • endorsed

    “Support the new generation of young leaders! This is easy. Donate to help this young man win!”

  • endorsed

    “Elijah is focused on importrant issues facing our schools.”

  • endorsed

    “I endorse Elijah Manley because this young black male will go FAR places in life ❤️”

  • endorsed

    “Elijah stands for what is right about pubic education.”

  • endorsed

    “Elijah Manley is committed to dismantling the teach to the test curriculum that has plagued the education system for so many years. His own experiences have shaped his vision for progress, and his commitment to improving the quality of student education is an admirable endeavor. Elijah Manley is one step closer to establishing positive change within his community, and improving the quality of learning for many students within his community. I will do whatever it takes to ensure that he succeeds.”

  • endorsed

    “I support Elijah Manley because he has the passion, heart, and credibility. Broward County will because of him.”

  • endorsed

    “As another 18 year old who ran for office I know the rough path he will have to take and I'm glad to support his campaign to best of my ability. I live in New York but I will phone bank for him.”

  • endorsed

    “#NewBlood”

  • endorsed

    “I support Elijah Manley because he has disabled veterans in mind, and today, there are an awful lot of those in this country.”

June 23, 2017

Opponent has filed for our seat

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.

Thanks,

Elijah Manley 

Back to all updates

Show your support for this campaign by endorsing it and sharing why!

  • endorsed

  • endorsed

    “I endorse Elijah Manley because I believe that the young people of this country are the hope for a better future.”

  • endorsed

  • endorsed

    “Support the new generation of young leaders! This is easy. Donate to help this young man win!”

  • endorsed

    “Elijah is focused on importrant issues facing our schools.”

  • endorsed

    “I endorse Elijah Manley because this young black male will go FAR places in life ❤️”

  • endorsed

    “Elijah stands for what is right about pubic education.”

  • endorsed

    “Elijah Manley is committed to dismantling the teach to the test curriculum that has plagued the education system for so many years. His own experiences have shaped his vision for progress, and his commitment to improving the quality of student education is an admirable endeavor. Elijah Manley is one step closer to establishing positive change within his community, and improving the quality of learning for many students within his community. I will do whatever it takes to ensure that he succeeds.”

  • endorsed

    “I support Elijah Manley because he has the passion, heart, and credibility. Broward County will because of him.”

  • endorsed

    “As another 18 year old who ran for office I know the rough path he will have to take and I'm glad to support his campaign to best of my ability. I live in New York but I will phone bank for him.”

  • endorsed

    “#NewBlood”

  • endorsed

    “I support Elijah Manley because he has disabled veterans in mind, and today, there are an awful lot of those in this country.”

  • endorsed

    “Elijah is following his passion to truly represent the underrepresented. Our children who not only deserve an equitable and nurturing school environment, but it's imperative that they have such. For they're inheriting the toxicity of hundreds of years of pedagogy of the oppressed by predatory systems with their Roots in profit over everything else. Elijah Manley sees not only the dysfunction, but also the solutions. That which he'll come to further see while serving will come from working with those who have also cleared their vision. I'm ready to do what I can, as are many more. This is where there's hope to work with what's salvageable, and through supporting those truly called to teach build organically based upon the real life needs of our youth, they are our future. We are our future. Every choice we make determines so much.”

  • endorsed

    “Hes a leader with vision for the future”

  • endorsed

    “Elijah isn't your usual politician. He cares intensely about people, which is exceedingly rare in the disingenuous world of politics.”

  • endorsed

    “I support Elijah Manley because he genuinely cares for the students and future of Broward County and he's a kind and revolutionary thinker we need more of in public service.”