By Énoa Gibson
Washington, D.C.— “I promised God if I ever made it out of the neighborhood, I’d come back and give back.”
Known for his activism work, protesting, fighting for the rights of others, and advocating for the disenfranchised, Councilmember Trayon Whiteis a member of the Council of the District of Columbia, representing Ward 8 of the District of Columbia.
White, a former member of the District of Columbia State Board of Education, grew up in a neighborhood in Southeast Washington D.C. where drug dealing and violence were common. The area was dangerous, and at times the violence restricted him from leaving the house.
Violent crime also remains a problem in Ward 8, home to the city’s highest concentration of poverty. Crime data from DC Police shows that there were 20 murders in Ward 8 in 2019 by the end of May. In May of 2019, White said that 18 children in Ward 8 had been shot within the last nine months, and he expressed his concern with the strategy of the police department.
“We can’t just stand by and keep letting this happen. The police department, we don’t know what their strategy is,” White said.
“I never really had a desire to be in politics,” said White. “I come from poverty. I could have been just another statistic, but God sent people to intervene in my life, at critical points and who gave me a lot of direction.” When explaining how he got to where he is today in the face of adversity, he explains that what saved him was God’s grace.
Voted most likely to succeed in high school, White believes that often times people say they want to change their circumstances but aren’t unwilling to change their behavior. “If you want to change your community, you need to put the time and energy into changing yourself. It’s really who you are when no one is looking and putting in the hard work without the accolades [that’s important].”
His grandmother Jean Ann Roberts was one of the first public servants he knew; she fought against gun violence and advocated for trains in the community. White has continued his grandmother’s legacy and kept his promise to God by giving back to his community. His current projects include a commitment to getting the city to build three new recreational centers, a new state of the art senior wellness center, and two new grocery stores in Ward 8. To engage the community and enhance the employment rate, he and his team recently opened a career training facility called ADC Infrastructure Camp in Ward 8.
When asked how he manages to remain focused enough to achieve his goal, White highlights the importance of keeping good people around. “As a leader, I keep people around me who hold me accountable and who can correct me, encourage me, and lift me up.”
He also surrounds himself with people who pray for him and want to see him succeed, like Julia Jessie, a marketing expert, who expressed her excitement about his accomplishments, after working alongside him throughout his term and witnessing his community work.
Wanda Lockridge, his current chief of staff, recounted stories of moments when White went above and beyond for his community and labeled him as the voice for those who may not be able to advance their platform.
Before her late husband, William Lockridge, passed, he expressed his desire for current Councilmember White to run for the school board because he was not going to run again. In 2011, White was elected to the State Board of Education for Ward 8 to complete the term of the late William Lockridge and was re-elected in 2012. Since 2010 Lockridge has been integral in Whites’ career and now works as the chief of staff in his office.
“I am here because I believe in his mission for the people of Ward 8; his heart is in the right place, and I’m very honored he selected me to work as his chief of staff,” said Lockridge.
White promised God that if he ever made it out of the neighborhood, he would give back to the community where he was raised, and that is exactly what he has done.