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Mobtown Beat

Ed Boyd Jr.: 1961-2008

Activist and Green Party Member Ed Boyd Jr. Ran For Maryland Governor in 2006

Frank Klein
Ed Boyd Jr., Aug. 24, 1961-Aug. 11, 2008

By Erin Sullivan | Posted 8/20/2008

Even when he was lying in a hospital bed in the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center downtown, battling bone and lung cancer, Ed Boyd remained an activist. In an interview from his hospital bed in October 2007, Boyd told a reporter how he spent his time talking to fellow veterans about the state of affairs in the United States and how changing their political affiliations could help improve the lot of the nation's working poor.

"I got a guy the other day who had the same values as the Green Party," Boyd, who ran for governor of Maryland on the Green Party ticket in 2006, said at the time. "But he didn't know where to turn. He didn't want to vote for either of the two major parties, and he was thinking that he wouldn't vote at all. But that is the worst thing of all you can do. So we talked about the Green Party, and by the end of the night, I had given a blank voter registration form for him to fill out."

In July 2007, Boyd, who had been undergoing treatment through the VA for years to deal with various health issues including difficulty breathing and pains in his legs, was rushed to Union Memorial Hospital with chest pains. The doctor who treated him told Boyd that he had lung cancer. Boyd, understandably, was surprised to hear the news. "I had thought they [doctors at the VA] would have picked up something like that," he told City Paper in 2007. "But if it was picked up, nobody ever told me. And the more I talked to people, the more I found out that there are a lot of veterans in the hospital who were either told they were ill and haven't gotten treatment, or who found out they are ill but no one knows what is going on with them."

Boyd succumbed to that cancer on Aug. 11. He was 46.

Ed Boyd Jr., known to many of his friends as Eddie, was born in Miami in 1961. Shortly after high school, he joined the Navy and served in the 1982 Lebanon War. After his discharge, he began working with Community for Creative Nonviolence in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit serving the homeless. Boyd was particularly passionate about issues related to homelessness, because for a time he was addicted to drugs and homeless. He was also a staunch advocate for the working poor, an unabashed opponent of the war in Iraq, and an outspoken critic of politics as usual.

In 2005, Myles Hoenig, former co-chair of the now-defunct Charm City Greens (a Baltimore chapter of the Green Party), met Boyd at a Veterans for Peace event and was struck by his candor and political views and thought he'd make an ideal gubernatorial candidate for the Greens. "Boyd wasn't a smooth-talking, slick, snake-oil salesman like O'Malley and Ehrlich," Hoenig told City Paper in 2006 during a Boyd campaign event. Boyd earned the party's nomination, and he became the first African-American candidate to run for governor of Maryland in a general election. He was also the first Green Party candidate to run for governor in the state.

"He was a great human being, a compassionate person," says Brandy Baker, former co-chair of the Charm City Greens and a close friend to Boyd. "He wasn't in the Green Party for himself, he didn't run for governor for himself. He did it because he wanted a better world and a more just society. It was about more than Eddie Boyd for governor in 2006. It was about Eddie Boyd for justice."

During his campaign, he fought for recognition of his campaign and the Green Party in general. He was displeased when Maryland Public Television excluded him from its gubernatorial debates, and he and his campaign staff picketed the station to draw attention to its decision to keep him out. Undaunted and persistent, he found other ways to let people know about his campaign: He posted YouTube videos online, campaigned tirelessly, and stood on street corners in downtown Baltimore and elsewhere, talking to anyone who would listen. He was not afraid to make bold statements about his fellow candidates for governor, Martin O'Malley and Robert Ehrlich; during a candidates' debate held by the NAACP he declared, "O'Malley, Ehrlich, what's the difference? They both eat from the same trough."

Even in death, Boyd's friends have seen to it that he remains politically active. They've asked that anyone interested in honoring Boyd's memory make donations to one of two campaigns: Cynthia McKinney for president or Cindy Sheehan for Congress. McKinney is running as a Green, Sheehan as an independent.

A potluck memorial service for Boyd is scheduled for Aug. 24 (his birthday--he would have been 47) at 4 p.m. at the War Memorial Building, 101 N. Gay St.

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