Tarolyn Thrasher, a military spouse and mother of three, is currently running for state delegate in Frederick, Maryland. As the first Black woman to run for state office in her city, she is already changing the tides of history, but those waves have been rippling since she was a 16-year-old military kid disappointed when her father left for Desert Storm.
“I was not happy about him going to Desert Storm. And so, my dad said, ‘You know the decisions that are made for us to go — big people are making those decisions.’” Thrasher quickly responded, “I want to be one of those people.”
Since that time, she’s maintained involvement in politics and a passion for her local community.
Thrasher earned a degree in political science from Troy University, and as a military spouse, served different duty stations.
“Community service is something that was just embedded in me, and I just kept being relevant,” she said.
Thrasher’s motivation to impact others made her a leader and resource for military families. She’s served as an FTB instructor at Fort Bragg, conducting orientations for new soldiers. She’s also been a Family Readiness Group leader, sending care packages to deployed members and providing support and assistance to their spouses.
“Being a military spouse, I couldn’t get involved [in politics] as much as I wanted to because, of course, we moved around. But I did try to get involved as much as I could within the military with just connecting with the community and community service,” she said.
After moving to Maryland, Thrasher realized how little attention is given to the military families in the Fort Detrick area. Despite how much money is pumped into the community by its military residents, she says, the local support for military and veterans is lacking. “It’s a very weird dynamic,” and one that she has political plans to change.
In 2017, her husband retired from the Army and the family settled in the area. Thrasher now works as a program coordinator for the Baltimore Police Department. In this role, she gets an up-close view of the issues and actions that disproportionately affect Black citizens. The deaths of Freddie Gray Jr., a 25-year-old Black man who died in 2015 of injuries that he sustained while in Baltimore police custody, and more recently George Floyd, an unarmed Black man asphyxiated while a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes, shook the country and Thrasher’s community.
“We had a lot of social injustice that was happening to the Black community, and the community that I live in is predominantly white. And so, we have a lot of inequality and loss of equity,” she explained.
Black citizens make up 19.2% of the residents in Frederick, according to the United States Census Bureau, and Thrasher says this is the best time for her voice to be heard. In December, she was named vice president of the Frederick branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the country’s oldest and largest grassroots-based civil rights organization. Thrasher’s influence and connection with the NAACP is an added foothold in creating political change for Black Americans.
The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) released figures showing 120 Black women filed to run for Congress in 2020, the highest number in history. At least 26 candidates won election or reelection to Congress.
“When you think about all the Black women that have paved the way that have not been recognized, and we’ve always had to work harder. We’ve had to be more aggressive but still not be the angry Black woman at the same time,” Thrasher said.
She decided to run after her son approached her with a story of local injustice.
“He said, ‘Mom, I don’t know when you’re going to do it, but you need to do something now and fight for us. Like, do something for us because it’s not fair what’s happening in our community,’” she shared.
Thrasher’s ultimate goal is to make it to U.S. state secretary or state senator.
“I tell myself every day I have to make a legacy for my kids, so they know who their mom is. Don’t brag about it but take notes,” Thrasher, whose children are 22, 16, and 8. said. “I just want to be a great example for them.”