Deray McKesson, an avid protestor and frontline activist, is seen  in St. Louis, Missouri. "So much of the work in the past year was focused on exposing and convincing and saying to people 'this is what happened' and 'this is what's wrong', 'believe me and listen'," he told AFP.

Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images

The Black Lives Matter activist joined nine other candidates in a debate ahead of the April primary election. 

Lauren Porter
Mar, 14, 2016

On a stage at Morgan State University on Thursday, nine democratic candidates in the race for Baltimore Mayor engaged in their first debate. 

DeRay Mckesson, the activist who is one of the hopefuls looking to replace the current Maryland city Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, spoke on matters of change and empowerment, ABC 2 News reports. 

DeRay McKesson Releases Mayoral Campaign Ad, 'Love is the Why'

"I know that this city is challenged and the only way that we're going to get through these challenges is if we choose new leadership," he said. "I also know that it takes someone with leadership who can bring all parties together."

Mckesson entered the race as a last-mintue entry and has built his campaign with the slogan "Baltimore: A City of Promise and Possibility."

Activist DeRay Mckesson Announces Bid for Baltimore Mayor

"If the establishment is who we choose, we know exactly what we're going to get. They are part of the probelm that got us here."

The candidate, 30, sat among other candidates, including Nick Mosby, Calvin Young, David Warnock, Elizabeth Embry, Senator Catherine Pugh, Carl Stokes and former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon. 

Primary election day for the state of Maryland is April 26.

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