Black Lives Matter activist and Campaign Zero co-founder DeRay Mckesson will leave his position as head of human resources for Baltimore City public schools at the end of this month to focus on his podcast and activism.
Mckesson told the Baltimore Sun in an interview that after having served in his position as the school system’s chief human capital officer for more than a year, he will remain in Baltimore and focus on his podcast, Pod Save the People, as well as social justice activism.
“It was an honor to come back to city schools and serve in this role,” Mckesson told the Sun. “I believe in the superintendent. I believe in the kids of Baltimore. I think of it as complementary and inclusive to the other organizing work I do with social justice.”
Although Mckesson gained national recognition as a Black Lives Matter activist in the wake of the 2014 fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., the 32-year-old had a previous career in human resources.
In June 2016, new Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises offered him the top HR position in an interim capacity at a salary of $165,000 per year, anticipating that he would work through the fall semester as the district searched for a permanent chief of human capital.
While Santelises was criticized for hiring Mckesson, she praised his work and told the Sun that he showed great attention to detail, often working late nights on complex staffing and payroll issues.
“There is no way we would have made it through this first year without DeRay’s leadership,” Santelises said. “I say that unapologetically and with great assuredness. He is leaving us in such a better position. He is one of the rare people who can talk about equity and then is not afraid to put boots to the ground and do the hard work that yields equity.”
Santelises said that Mckesson’s replacement will be named at the end of the month.
Mckesson, who founded and leads We the Protesters, a group that advocates policy changes against police, says he has no plans to slow down.
“I look forward to continuing to organize,” Mckesson said. “We’ll be launching projects soon around mass incarceration, capacity building and continuing to create digital tools for people.”
Read more at the Baltimore Sun.