Known for his multiple leadership roles on Eastern University’s campus, Xeyah Martin is in the process of running for state representative in the 185th district of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The district, located in the Delaware and Philadelphia counties, includes the following areas: Philadelphia International Airport, Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum, Colwyn, Darby Township, Sharon Hill, Ward 26, Ward 36, Ward 40 and Ward 48. “I’m entering this election to lift up my community, elevate my people, and change the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Martin stated.
As a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, Martin spent the early period of his life residing in south Philadelphia. He was raised by working class parents and spent much of his late adolescence caring for his grandmother with quadriplegia. “My grandmother was my everything; she helped raise me. She was truly my best friend,” Martin shared. Martin chose to study at Eastern University in order to be close to his grandmother; however, she unfortunately passed away weeks before Martin graduated high school.
Martin grew up in South Philadelphia alongside his family. His love of politics blossomed while taking a civics class in high school, and he always maintained a strong connection with his community. After his mother’s car was found with bullets in the sides, Martin and his family moved to southwest Philadelphia in 2005. Martin reminisced on his early years in southwest Philadelphia as people freely walked the streets with trimmed trees outlining the sidewalks. However, as Martin grew older, he noticed southwest Philadelphia gradually declining. “The neighborhood went down and down. People who lived there moved out because they noticed an increase in violence and school systems failing,” Martin explained.
Martin’s decision to enter the race for state representative is rooted in the people and experiences surrounding his own life. After the loss of his grandmother, Martin struggled to get involved with Eastern. Martin’s passion for civic engagement was reignited by Theresa Noye, the director of the Goode Scholars program. Noye implored Martin and other Goode Scholars to “show the world who we are; to be that bright, shining star and to help uplift other people,” Martin shared. Likewise, Dr. Sharon Gramby-Sobukwe, a professor at Eastern, influenced Martin’s perceptions on politics. Representative Malcolm Kenyatta helped pave the way for Martin’s current and future success through his advocacy and policies.
In addition to the people that have inspired Martin, first-hand experiences have also shaped his journey. Martin found his car laden with bullet holes due to a shooting in his neighborhood. Although this shooting did not result in any fatalities, Martin considered the potential destruction of human life that could have transpired. “This could have happened when children were outside, when people were getting off of work. This cannot happen anymore,” Martin emphasized.
If Martin is to be elected as state representative of the 185th district, his plans revolve around three areas: prosperity, security, and progress. “I look at prosperity, security, and progress as a circle: you can’t have one without the other,” Martin expressed. “The first step toward change is allowing those who have been left behind into our collective share of prosperity. This means expanding home ownership opportunities, as these lead to generational wealth and stronger connections.”
Security encompasses the need to change and reform policing laws. For Martin, this includes mandating the presence of social workers in mental health crisis responses. “Walter Wallace was going through a mental health crisis and he was shot and killed multiple times by Philadelphia police officers,” Martin explained. “This should never have happened, period.” With regards to gun laws, Martin shared his concern that in the state of Pennsylvania it is easier to obtain a gun than it is to purchase a car. Xeyah Martin’s hope is to work collectively to build stronger communities safe from the fear of violence.
For Xeyah Martin, progress requires that we turn away from old ways of thinking and dare to dream a new dream. He sees an opportunity in the areas of marijuana, education and the minimum wage. “I want to legalize marijuana for two reasons: to help release non-violent weed-related offenders, and increase education spending,” Martin stated. By using the tax revenue from marijuana, Martin would funnel this profit into educational spending. Additionally, Martin hopes to increase minimum wage to ensure that resources are accessible. “People need to work, but they also have children. They can’t afford to pay for the $500 a week daycare living on minimum wage,” Martin explained.
Although only those living in the 185th district are able to vote for Martin, there are other ways to support his campaign. More information can be found using Martin’s instagram, Martin’s @xeyahtm, and his website can be reached at: https://xeyforpa.com/.
As Martin strives to become state representative, he aims to echo the words of Vice President Kamala Harris: “I may be the first, but won’t be the last.”