We're proud of the spotlight The Root has shinned on Ashanti and his accomplishments. Below is the text from The Root. 

Ashanti Martinez’s last birthday present to himself wasn’t like most 21st birthday gifts. In April 2017, he announced that he was running for Maryland’s House of Delegates.

Ashanti, who is a senior at Howard University, decided to run for office because he hopes to implement “bold progressive policies.” He wants to improve education and transportation, create more jobs, raise the minimum wage and reform the state’s criminal justice system.

“Our country is in need of new energy in the halls of power,” Ashanti told The Root. “Time’s up for legacy leaders and gatekeepers because our country can’t afford to continue business as usual.”

As he wraps his education, it’s clear that he’s devoted to transforming Maryland’s education system.

“We need fresh leadership to confront the challenges of classroom overcrowding, aging facilities, low teacher retention, and lack of transparency in our school board,” he writes on his campaign website. “Having our students career- and college-ready means having a 21st-century school system that focuses on the needs of our students both inside and out of the classroom.”

He’s been praised by his local community, and earned a spot on 93.9 WKYS-FM’s “Top 30 Under 30” list, and Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund’s “Forty Under 40” list.

Ashanti has been committed to fighting for marginalized communities since he was 16. As a senior at Parkdale High School in Maryland, he created the LGBTQ Student Liaison position for the Prince George’s County Regional Association of Student Governments.

In a national moment when young people are standing up and speaking out, Ashanti encourages other people in his generation to be the change they want to see.

“My message is clear: Run for something,” he told The Root. “Your voice is needed.”