Honoring the Past Inspiring the Future
1967 â€˘ 2017
Carl B. Stokes: A 50-Year Legacy in Policy
Index Foreword..................................................................................................................................... 4 Preface....................................................................................................................................... 5 Introduction................................................................................................................................. 6 Executive Summary...................................................................................................................... 8 A Shelter From the Storm............................................................................................................ 10 Without Health, Nothing.............................................................................................................. 16 Black and Blue........................................................................................................................... 21 A Sobering Lesson...................................................................................................................... 27 Good Jobs and an Urban Agenda.................................................................................................. 33 Conclusion: A Refillable Glass...................................................................................................... 38 Population Maps........................................................................................................................ 40 Leadership Committee................................................................................................................ 41 Special Thanks........................................................................................................................... 41 Community Partners................................................................................................................... 42 Chairs and Funders..................................................................................................................... 43
Foreword In the spring of 2016, I joined with Lauren Onkey, chair and dean of the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Humanities Center at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), in meetings with a handful of leaders across Cleveland. We talked about a simple proposal: 2017 would mark the 50th anniversary of the election of Carl B. Stokes as mayor of Cleveland, the first African American to be elected mayor of a major American city. Would they and their organizations join Tri-C in commemorating that anniversary with a few events throughout the year? The outcome of those discussions greatly exceeded any of our expectations. A groundswell of support for celebrating the legacy of Mayor Stokes and his brother, Congressman Louis Stokes, led to more than 70 organizations participating in a yearlong calendar of events, from concerts and drama to lectures and community forums. More than 40 contemporaries of Carl Stokes recorded oral histories. A beautiful and engaging permanent exhibit has arisen at the Western Reserve Historical Societyâ€™s Cleveland History Center. The Cleveland Leadership Center has launched the Stokes Civic Leadership Institute. Among the desired outcomes of this initiative, however, the development of a policy piece was always central. We cannot appropriately study and celebrate the legacy of the Stokes brothers without exploring the significance of their contributions to public policy over the past 50 years. And we cannot say that we have learned from the Stokes legacy without examining Cleveland today in light of Cleveland: NOW!, without applauding the progress that has been made and asking the difficult questions about the progress that still eludes us a half-century later. This document is not intended to be simply a look back. It is not intended only to show where we are today. It is intended to spark discussions around the key issues that have continued to challenge us over the past 50 years. It is intended to inspire a new generation of leaders to rise up, to stand upon the shoulders of Carl and Louis Stokes to see a brighter future for their city, and to take an active role in making that future become reality. I am grateful for the involvement of so many across Cleveland in this initiative. I am indebted to Richey Piiparinen and Randell McShepard for their leadership in preparing this document. But I am most hopeful for the promise that rests in the young people who will take this legacy forward into the next half-century and beyond.
Alex Johnson, Ph.D. President Cuyahoga Community College
Preface United Way of Greater Cleveland is honored to underwrite “Carl B. Stokes: A 50-Year Legacy,” an important publication created as part of a yearlong celebration that spotlights the historical and current significance of the public service of Mayor Carl Stokes. Stokes’s legacy represents a monumental body of work that was not only insightful, but also courageous. His strong and constant drumbeat, set against a backdrop fraught with unrest and strife, championed fair and equal treatment of all citizens, whether it meant access to adequate housing, a quality education, or the opportunity to make a living wage. His efforts made strides, to be sure, but a half-century later the tremendous progress of the past has not been enough to mitigate some of those same issues that Mayor Stokes and his brother, Congressman Louis Stokes, fought so valiantly to put to rest. That is precisely why the recognition of their myriad achievements must be tempered by a piercing look at the realities that too many of our Greater Cleveland neighbors continue to face. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” So, armed with the lessons of history and what we know to be true today, we must allow the Stokes legacy to be a symbol of hope as we work together to take the next step—and another and another—to speak and act for justice. The example set by the Stokes brothers reflects United Way of Greater Cleveland’s commitment to this generation and those that follow. We must serve as a voice for those without one. We must help create sustainable solutions that improve lives. We must work tirelessly to strengthen connections among organizations and individuals, inspiring them to invest in one another. And as a trusted and accountable partner, we must provide the kind of effective resources that will activate change. Together, we can achieve the Greater Cleveland that Carl and Louis stood for and that we all believe in.
August A. Napoli President and CEO United Way of Greater Cleveland November 2017
Carl B. Stokes: A 50-Year Legacy In his 1973 book Promises ofw Power: A Political Autobiography, the late Carl B. Stokes told of an image he carried as a child, one he didn’t have the “slightest idea” of how he conjured up. “I am walking in the front of a house,” he explained.1 “It is cold outside, and I can feel the wind cutting through my thin jacket. I look into the house through a big picture window and I see a white family sitting in the living room. The father throws his baby into the air to make it laugh. A fireplace is going, the family is warm, happy and alive. There is a fence in front of the house. I am outside.” Stokes’ image evokes a sense of alienation. “How do you not be on the outside?” he asks. “How do you not be poor?” One can argue he made it “inside” when he was elected in 1967 as the first black mayor of a major American city. And one can argue he became mayor to effect change from the inside out. But change proved difficult. “By 1970, I could see the writing on the wall,” Mayor Stokes conceded in his autobiography. “In 1967, it still seemed that the cities could be turned around; three years later the economic tide had turned and we were headed for even more problems than before.” Today problems still exist. Poverty rates for African Americans and Hispanics living in the city of Cleveland are approximately 40 percent.2 By contrast, the white-majority, exurban counties of Geauga and Medina have poverty rates hovering at 7 percent. This disparity begs the question: Has there been any progress on the race and equity front in the 50 years since Carl Stokes’s election? There have certainly been legislative victories to advance minority standing in America since 1967. The election of the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama, is an indication of shifting sands. In fact, Congressman Louis Stokes — Carl’s brother and the first black elected to Congress from Ohio — commented near the end of his life that he thought the nation was capable of electing a black president but that he had never expected to see it in his lifetime.3 What the Congressman humbly neglected to say was that the election of both Carl and himself set in motion the election of President Obama, a reality the President himself acknowledged during the funeral of Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones. Yet progress on racial equity is not straightforward. It can even ignite a regress.
Stokes, Carl B., Promises of Power: A Political Autobiography (1973). Cleveland Memory. 27. Source: American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, 2015. 3 The Election of Carl Stokes: A Turning Point in the Long Road toward Overcoming Racial Barriers. See: http://25701730.weebly.com/impact.html 1 2
“The forces of reaction [in America] are too great,” reflected Mayor Stokes in 1973, referring to the difficulty black leaders had in leading majority white communities, particularly related to suspicions that a black leader would conspire on a movement at the expense of the majority group.4 A variant of that suspicion has since been given a name, “whitelash”—a term denoting the historic tendency in America wherein racial progress is inevitably followed by racial setbacks. And so it is today—but with a twist. There are currently five states nationally that are majority-minority, including California and Texas. Demographers predict the nation will be majority-minority by 2043. The majority of American children will be people of color in just two years.5 This evolution of racial and ethnic diversity in America has, however, coincided with an ever-explicit mood of “white alienation”—a temperament that dictated the 2016 presidential election, according to University of Washington professor Christopher Parker after an analysis of voting patterns. “Every period of racial progress in this country is followed by a period of retrenchment,” Parker notes. This is particularly so given the white majority is trending toward minority status. Perhaps that, in a nutshell, is what has doggedly troubled America: the notion of power in likeness as opposed to power in people. This has mostly led to policies of privilege that shape lives, like the making of a young Carl Stokes who continually replayed visions of being left on the outside looking in. It is likely no coincidence that he chose the title of his life’s story to be Promises of Power. He had been a black man in power, with a keen awareness of how the structures of power can make so many powerless.6 As for promises... well, he tried not to make any. During a City Club address prior to his not seeking re-election to a third term in 1971, Mayor Stokes recalled a speech he gave at the same podium in 1965. “As I stood here at the podium I will never forget issuing a plea to the listening audience and those who were assembled,” he began. “I said: ‘Let me show you how a city ought to be run. Just give me a chance.’ I never promised miracles. I never promised a great reformation. I said, ‘Let me show you how it ought to be done.’ And that is what I have been trying to do.” Even on the inside, then, Mayor Stokes was left trying — his realization of progress blocked more by the corridors of influence than his ability to see. in people inspired by his legacy.
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Stokes, Carl B., Promises of Power: A Political Autobiography (1973). Cleveland Memory. 27. Bass, F. (December 12, 2012). “Census Bureau Says Minority Youth to Be Majority by 2019.” Bloomberg. Westneat, D. (June 14, 2017). “UW professor got it right on Trump. So why is he being ignored?” Seattle Times.
Executive Summary Fifty years ago, Cleveland marked one of its most notable historical developments—the election of Carl Stokes as the first African-American mayor of a major American city. Shortly after the 1967 election, and in an effort to initiate sweeping changes to improve the lives of Clevelanders, Mayor Stokes created Cleveland: NOW!—his signature proposal to address the challenges of his time. Sadly, the challenges that motivated him 50 years ago still exist today. Five entities that research and/ or advocate for social and economic issues have come together to explore the city’s progress since Stokes’s election in five key categories: housing, health, safety, education, and economic parity. Richey Piiparinen, director of the Center for Population Dynamics at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, explores the close personal connection between Carl Stokes’s childhood living conditions and the centrality of housing reform to his agenda as mayor. Piiparinen describes how Cold War defense policies favoring decentralization of industry combined with discriminatory lending practices to confine African Americans to crowded, deteriorating neighborhoods increasingly isolated from employment opportunities. Mayor Stokes’s policies resulted in significant growth in public housing within the city, but as the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968 opened opportunities for African Americans to pursue housing in other areas, momentum grew behind “black flight” to the suburbs. Cleveland’s population has continued to decline over the past 50 years. A recent influx of mostly white, college-educated residents has helped to stem the decline, although Piiparinen notes that it is uncertain whether this trend will lift the city as a whole or lead to increasing division within Cleveland between “gentrified” neighborhoods and those left out of the resurgence. John Corlett, president and executive director of The Center for Community Solutions, delves into the complicated history of health disparities in the nation and in Cleveland, beginning with the creation and dissolution of the Freedmen’s Bureau a century before Mayor Stokes’s election. Corlett details the efforts the mayor made to reform public health in the city, from the national search for a new public health director to the opening of new facilities, the introduction of new programs, and even the restructuring of public transportation to improve access to health care. Although Stokes’s push for welfare reform at the state level was unsuccessful during his time in office, the torch was advanced at the national level by his brother, Congressman Louis Stokes, with policies over the past halfcentury significantly shrinking the gap in life expectancy between blacks and whites. More recently, the Affordable Care Act has had additional impact on access to health care among disadvantaged groups. Nonetheless, Corlett notes that significant work remains to ensure that progress continues. Cleveland State University Professor Ronnie Dunn and Research Assistant Ma’Taya Hammond observe the similarities between the racial climate in the nation when Carl Stokes took office to the current environment. They note that both eras saw simmering tension between African-American citizens and police departments that boiled over into unrest—incidents primarily triggered by the deaths of African Americans at the hands of police officers. While such events, especially the Hough Riots in 1966, helped to propel Stokes into office through support from white business owners, the Glenville Riots during his first year as mayor not only eroded that support but also widened the rift between his administration and the Cleveland Police. Dunn and Hammond explore the factors that led to the Hough and Glenville unrest as well as the systemic issues that prevented Stokes’s police reform measures from progressing. The systemic problems continued under subsequent administrations, and Dunn
and Hammond note that racial profiling and deadly encounters between police and citizens remain too common. They express hope, however, in the innovative approaches contained within the current Department of Justice consent decree – practices that hold promise not only for Cleveland but for its suburbs and the nation as a whole. While education was not a central component of Cleveland: NOW!, Randell McShepard, Greg Brown, and Fran Stewart, Ph.D., of PolicyBridge explore the educational challenges in the city that affected not only the Stokes administration but also the intervening half-century. The challenges in the first half of the 20th century stemmed from Cleveland’s explosive growth, which brought together students from varied backgrounds, languages, and educational experiences. By the time of the Stokes administration, funding challenges were rising even as promising public support rose for new educational construction and services. The challenges multiplied over the ensuing decades, however, to include increasingly segregated schools, frequent leadership transitions, and a changing economy. Progress has been made; the Higher Education Compact has marked substantial increases since 2012 in high school graduation, college readiness, and college graduation among Cleveland Metropolitan School District students. The city’s level of high school attainment has more than flipped since 1960, from only three out of 10 residents holding a high school diploma in that year to eight out of 10 in 2014. Yet that level of education, as McShepard, Brown, and Stewart note, lacks currency in the current economy, and much work remains to better prepare Cleveland students for the workforce today and in the decades to come. That changing workforce is the focus of Amy Hanauer of Policy Matters Ohio, who notes the connections between discrimination in housing, education, and employment in Cleveland that faced Stokes during his time in office and that have dogged the city since. Stokes pursued policies and exerted political pressure to create thousands of employment opportunities for African Americans in the city— efforts that drew attention from presidents Johnson and Nixon as well as other cities nationwide. However, Hanauer delves into the disparities that have seen opportunities and wage growth stagnate or decline over the past 50 years for the average worker even as educational requirements and, notably, corporate earnings have increased. Neither Hanauer nor the other authors, however, remain focused on the past. Their findings also indicate future possibilities and direction to carry the legacy of Carl and Louis Stokes into the future. It is the hope of this group that revisiting history will provide a fresh look at the priorities and actions of the Stokes administration and that this will inspire a new generation of Clevelanders to remain steadfast in keeping the city open to innovation, collaboration, and progress for all of its citizens.
What is a house? For the privileged it is but another investment. For those without means it is a necessity. American housing policy has shifted from housing as a right to housing as a commodity. Below, Richey Piiparinen, director of the Center for Population Dynamics at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, details the battle for the meaning of home through the life of Carl Stokes.
A Shelter From the Storm In his 1943 paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed “a hierarchy of needs” that guide human development. First and foremost, a person has bodily needs – particularly health, food, and water. Then come needs related to physical security: a roof over one’s head to protect from the elements, walls and a door to protect from external threats. Maslow contended that without these basic needs being met, one had difficulty springboarding to higher-order communal, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual needs. To that end, a home is not just a home; nor is it an investment. Rather, it’s a necessity in the progression of life. For Carl and Louis Stokes, this reality was less a conceptual exercise than an experience that made them who they were. “My mother, Louis, and I lived on the first floor at 2234 E. 69th St. in a rickety old two-family house,” he wrote in his autobiography, Promises of Power.7 “We covered the rat holes with the tops of tin cans….The coal stove kept the living room warm; we used heated bricks and an old flatiron wrapped in flannel to keep warm in the bedroom. The three of us shared one bed.” When change came, Stokes described it as nothing less than life-changing: “We were delivered from the most oppressive physical presence of our poverty in 1938.” That was the year he, his mother, and his brother moved into the Outhwaite Homes at E. 55th and Woodland. Outhwaite was the second federally funded housing project in Cleveland and one of the first in the nation. The day they moved in was “pure wonder,” Stokes wrote, recalling that the steam heat, painted walls, and separate bedrooms left him speechless. Carl Stokes at Outhwaite Homes
“We had no experience to give those words meaning.”
*** Stokes’s words convey the raw awareness of what it means to not have secure housing. Shelter is assumed until the body gets cold or the sense of safety is lost. Yet, while housing insecurity is ultimately felt immediately and bodily, its absence or presence is dictated by larger, sometimes far-off forces. This holds true today no less than it did 50 years ago. Childhood lead exposure, for instance, is experienced daily in the life of those exposed. Yet it is contextualized as a risk in neighborhoods with distressed housing stock, which is tied to whether community’s residents can afford upkeep, which, in turn, is tied to education and job access. This layering, then, makes it apparent that the topics of this publication—health, safety, housing, education, and jobs—are intertwined. And so their solutions must be as well. _____________________________________________________________ 7
Stokes, Carl B., Promises of Power: A Political Autobiography (1973). Cleveland Memory. 27.
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When the Stokes brothers were growing up, issues related to housing were less layered than made explicit, largely via policies that sanctioned segregation. The implications of this were straightforward: African Americans were confined to a small part of Cleveland in 1940. Cuyahoga County was 7.2 percent black that year, yet over 90 percent of the county’s approximately 87,000 African Americans resided in an area generally bounded by Euclid Ave. to the north, Woodland and Kinsman to the south, E. 105th to the east, and E. 30th to the west, an area of roughly 4.5 square miles. (See Image 1, pg.40). The primary mechanism of this confinement was redlining, described as “the refusal of mainstream banks, prior to the passage of the 1968 In 1940, Fair Housing Act, to lend [to blacks] on any purchase outside of alreadyestablished black residential areas,”8 writes Todd Michney, author of the 87,000 African book Surrogate Suburbs: Black Upward Mobility and Neighborhood Change Americans lived in in Cleveland, 1900-1980. Redlining was driven by a “white unwillingness roughly 4.5 sq. miles to relinquish living space,” as well as fears of real estate depreciation if minorities moved into predominantly white neighborhoods. This latter fear proved to have a negative feedback loop effect: redlining artificially deflated housing supply for blacks, fostering overcrowding that contributed to the deterioration of the housing stock. The physical decline in the neighborhoods where African Americans lived “formed a potent combination,” Michney concludes, “serving to confirm white notions linking property values and race.”
While redlining served to carve Cleveland along racial fault lines that—for the most part—are still present today, an unraveling of federal post-war policies proved to have an equally devastating effect, particularly for African Americans in the industrial Midwest. These policies had not been housingfocused, per se, but defense-driven. They reflected a Cold War strategic priority of decentralizing America’s manufacturing sector from cities to their suburbs so that the nation’s industrial capacity was less susceptible to a Soviet attack. For instance, an influential 1946 paper called “Dispersal of Cities and Industries” argued for a 15-year program to disperse important industries and depopulate big cities using a financing package of tax incentives and bonds.9 Over the next two decades, this is exactly what happened. Industrial firms got free money to build new factories away from the city. Individuals got free money to build houses near the firms. Retailers got free money to build strip malls to serve the residents. Figure 1 details how this decentralization played out locally, with Cleveland’s population declining by nearly 164,000 from 1950 to 1970, whereas Cuyahoga County suburbs and the surrounding counties of Lake, Geauga, Medina, and Lorain grew by nearly 804,000 people. These population shifts coincided with a shift in where housing was built. The number of housing units in Cleveland started declining by 1960, with new housing starts occurring primarily outside of the city proper (See Figure 2, pg.12). Truck assembly plant circa 1946
Michney, T. “Beyond White Flight: What the History of One Cleveland Neighborhood Can Teach Us About Race and Housing Inequality” (2017). Belt Magazine. 9 Marshak, J., Teller, E., and Klein, R. The Dispersal of Cities and Industries (1946). 8
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A Shelter From the Storm (Cont.) Figure 1: Total Population 1950 to 2015. Source: Census
Figure 2: Total Housing Units 1950 to 2015. Source: Census
Why did decentralization have a particularly deleterious effect on the black community? Every successive wave of migration into Cleveland was jobs-driven. Cleveland’s largest wave of migrant growth (18701914) occurred during a period of rapid industry expansion, and it was led by Southern and Eastern Europeans. The two World Wars slowed European immigration, yet the city’s need for workers continued. New sources of workers were necessary, the most prominent of which was the American South. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, hundreds of thousands of blacks migrated to Cleveland to work in heavy industry. As the jobs decentralized, though, African Americans in Cleveland—unlike their white European counterparts—became economically dislocated from their source of income. That’s because, prior to the Fair Housing Act of 1968, blacks were kept from living in the suburbs. The effects of this dislocation were real: African-American autoworkers in the Rust Belt had four times the unemployment rate of white autoworkers by the 1960s.10 The headwinds Mayor Stokes faced by the time he was elected in 1967 were thus gale force: the federal mandate to decentralize jobs and investment, the accelerating rate of population and housing losses as suburbanization picked up, and the isolation of black Clevelanders that resulted. These headwinds were structural in nature. In 1968, the Kerner Commission, an 11-member national advisory panel commissioned by President Johnson to investigate the riots that plagued cities during the summer of 1967, summarized their findings this way:11
Sugrue. T. J. (2005). The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. United States, Kerner Commission (1968). Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 10 11
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On July 28, 1967, the President of the United States established this Commission and directed us to answer three basic questions: What happened? Why did it happen? What can be done to prevent it from happening again? To respond to these questions, we have undertaken a broad range of studies and investigations. We have visited the riot cities; we have heard many witnesses; we have sought the counsel of experts across the country. This is our basic conclusion: Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white— separate and unequal. One wonders the extent to which Mayor Stokes knew what he was up against after the jubilance of his history-making election settled. Stokes himself tipped his hand to this reality, acknowledging the “damn helplessness” he felt as the riots in Glenville unfolded in July 1968, a few months after the Kerner report.12 Race riots in the late 1960s were a national occurrence, and they occurred nationally because there was a problem with the nation. Mayor Stokes, of course, wasn’t elected to fix the nation—just to lead Cleveland. But it is tough to lead a city when the country it’s a part of is pulling its people astray. Not unlike a captain guiding a ship in an angry sea. The Kerner Commission attempted to offer a roadmap to the get the country on the right track. Its report identified “12 deeply held grievances” that were ranked by level of intensity. The top three were police practices, unemployment and underemployment, and inadequate housing. On May 1, 1968, a newly minted Mayor Stokes announced his response to the Kerner Commission findings; Cleveland: NOW! was a multi-layered strategy to tackle the city’s most intractable problems, including housing. It was the first attempt by a major city to meet the challenges posed by the commission’s report. At its most basic level, Stokes’s housing strategy grew from his early experiences, which drove him to make quality housing available to more people who lacked it. “Housing was one of my true and lasting achievements,” he wrote.13 “When I took office there had been no new public housing built housing units were built during in five years, and there was none under contract. When I left office four years later we had built 5,496 units of low and moderate income housing the Stokes at a cost of more than $102 million. No city in the country had a administration record like that.”
Mayor Stokes noted that his strategy diverted significantly from that of his predecessors, Mayor Anthony J. Celebrezze and Mayor Ralph S. Locher. Mayor Celebrezze ushered in Cleveland’s urban renewal program, one of the biggest in the country. Some 6,000 acres of land were committed to renewal, and federal funds poured in for land clearance. In the process, several downtown working-class neighborhoods were cleared for redevelopment, displacing thousands. Daniel Kerr’s book, Derelict Paradise, thoroughly details this sad history. “The city officials understood demolition very well,” Mayor Stokes wrote, but not the relocation of people.
Johnson, D. “Carl Stokes, 68, Dies; Precedent-Setting Mayor” (1996). The New York Times. Stokes, Carl B., Promises of Power: A Political Autobiography (1973). Cleveland Memory. 27.
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A Shelter From the Storm (Cont.) Mayor Locher’s strategy called for a “softer” form of displacement, one dubbed “planned abandonment.”14 In 1966, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission held hearings in Cleveland, with Mayor Locher’s Urban Renewal commissioner, James Friedman, testifying that the policy of the Locher administration was to allow housing in urban renewal areas to decline so that it would be cheaper to acquire before knocking it down.15 This, and other issues, led the federal government to cut off all Housing and Urban Development funds to Cleveland, including $10 million in downtown development funds previously authorized. Stokes would move to have those funds restored shortly after taking office. The mayors’ approaches couldn’t be more different. For Celebrezze and Locher, a home was less important than the value of the land underneath. For Mayor Stokes, a plot of land was a place to build a home so as to give reach to those grasping for a basic human right. One can argue that the value of land is of paramount importance to elected leaders, particularly because the funding of Cleveland public schools is tied to real estate taxes. But that’s akin to building a house from the roof down. Rather, the value of land is driven by the life of the person inhabiting it, just as the course of a city is driven by the aggregate development of its people. After all, people develop—not places. Issues such as fair housing are exceedingly germane to Clevelanders, but they rarely get a good public airing. Mayor Stokes lamented this reality at the City Club of Cleveland on July 9, 1971. In his speech, which turned out to be one his last major addresses as mayor, Stokes noted how hard it was to fix issues that aren’t honestly discussed:16 “[O]ur city continues to be a divided city, a polarized community, divided black and white, divided rich and poor, divided Spanish speaking and Eastern European, divided between the central city and its surrounding suburbs…I remember a speech I made here in 1965. As I stood here at the podium I will never forget issuing a plea to the listening audience and those who are assembled here, and I said: ‘Let me show you how a city ought to be run. Just give me a chance.’ I never promised miracles. I never promised a great reformation. I said, ‘Let me show you how it ought to be done.’ And that is what I have been trying to do. Because what I have been doing is addressing the basic fundamental issue of our time [inequality], and to join the issues so clearly so that the cleverly concealed obvious would be obvious and be confronted. Because only when the problems are confronted squarely and honestly can they be solved.”
Metzger, J. (2000). Planned Abandonment: The Neighborhood Life-Cycle Theory and National Urban Policy. Housing Policy Debate, Vol. 11, Issue 1. 15 Ibid. 16 The City Club Forum Audio Collection. “Final Forum at 712 Vincent” (1971). Audio Recording. 14
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Today, Cleveland is still divided. Yet the geography of the division is changing. Black Clevelanders are suburbanizing at rates whites did decades back (see Image 2 for residential patterns of African Americans in Northeast Ohio), an aftereffect of the passing of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which made it illegal to keep minorities from moving African American Residents, 2007-2017 “up and out.” Over the past 10 years, the suburbs of Cuyahoga County have gained about 22,000 30,000 African-American residents, while Cleveland’s black 20,000 Suburbs totals have decreased by more than 26,000.17 10,000 +22,000 In fact, “black flight” from the city is now nearly 0 seven times the rate for whites, now that the city’s -10,000 Cleveland “white flight” has been abated by an influx of newly -26,000 -20.000 arriving, college-educated residents. Norm Krumholz, -30,000 former Cleveland planning director under Mayor Stokes, has taken note of the shifts, saying that “in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, simply no one wanted to live in the city, particularly after the Glenville and Hough riots. Black or white, why live in a chaotic area?” But because of an “influx of several thousand people, mostly white and (working) in eds and meds (education and medical fields), the city has become a more desirable place.”18 Whether this is the start of a “black flight”/“white infill” pattern that reverses historical trends remains to be seen. Yet it’s a pattern that has taken hold elsewhere, particularly in Chicago. The more pressing question is: What will become of Cleveland if these trends accelerate? One possibility is that there will be a new divide locally, one beyond the “central city and its surrounding suburbs” rift Stokes noted in his City Club speech. Rather, it will be a divide within the city itself, or a disunion between repopulating, gentrifying neighborhoods and depopulating, disinvested ones. A glance at changes in assessed residential real estate values over the past seven years hint at the geography of this divide (See Image 3, pg.40), with appreciations clustering in and around Downtown and University Circle, and depreciations happening in Glenville, Union-Miles, and Mt. Pleasant, as well as select inner-ring suburbs.19 After decades of disinvestment, it’s encouraging that Cleveland proper, the heart of the region, is growing with reinvestment: a progression occurring from the inside out. Yet it could be argued that the prosperity happening is simply the result of those with means moving into parts of the city, not the result of a rising tide lifting all boats. After all, the sea is still angry in America. And too many Clevelanders still lack a basic human right: a shelter from the storm.
Source: American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, 2005, 2015. Bullard, S. “Cleveland’s western rim embarks on development boom” (2017). Crain’s Cleveland. 19 Source: Cuyahoga County Auditor 17 18
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If rebuilding Cleveland only through bricks and mortar isn’t enough, then what is? A society’s building blocks begin with the person, and a person’s building blocks begin with his or her health. John Corlett, president and executive director of The Center for Community Solutions, which focuses on health, social, and economic issues, examines health policy from the era of Carl Stokes to today.
Without Health, Nothing In a 1966 speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights in Chicago, Illinois, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. noted: “Of all forms of discrimination and inequalities, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhumane.”20 When thinking about the legacy of Mayor Carl Stokes and health care in Cleveland, it’s essential to understand that he was elected mayor of the city of Cleveland just one year after this speech by Dr. King, just two years after President Lyndon Johnson and the U.S. Congress authorized the creation of the Medicaid and Medicare program, and three years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Although Medicaid, Medicare, and the Civil Rights Act advanced the health care status of all Americans, they represented the most significant step in improving health care access for African Americans since the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was created in 1865 to provide, in part, health care to African Americans who had previously been enslaved. The Freedmen’s Bureau established more than 90 hospitals and health centers across the South and Group of “freedmen” treated 500,000 patients before it was shut down by the U.S. Congress in 1872.21 Daniel E. Dawes, author of 150 Years of Obamacare, put the closure bluntly: “This decision would serve as one of the rarest, if not the rarest, congressional action that successfully dismantled a health care program that had already been implemented for several years.”22 Nearly 100 years after the Freedmen’s Bureau’s closure, Dr. King was clearly frustrated over the slow progress of ending discrimination in the nation’s hospitals and health care systems. “Negro infant mortality rate in Chicago’s poverty-stricken Woodlawn area was as bad as Mississippi’s rate,” Dr. King lamented, criticizing the American Medical Association for failing to end the discrimination in health care treatment received by African Americans and for refusing to eliminate racism within their own organization. Nationally, life expectancy statistics were dismal. A seven-year gap in life expectancy separated whites and African Americans at birth in 1960.23 Driving these health disparities, particularly in Cleveland, were the environmental effects accompanying physical isolation: dangerous, substandard housing; exposure to air and water pollution; poor sanitation due to a lack of infrastructure; and a lack of access to medical care.
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Moore, A. (March 20, 2013). “Tracking Down Martin Luther King Jr.’s Words on Health Care.” Huffington Post. Dawes, D. (2016). 150 Years of Obamacare. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. Ibid. Pew Research Center (2013). “King’s Dreams Remain an Elusive Goal; Many Americans See Racial Disparities.”
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Terminology used today, such as “health disparities” and “health equity,” did not exist or wasn’t used widely in the 1960s and 1970s. It wasn’t until 1983 that U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare Secretary Margaret Heckler convened a Task Force on Black and Minority Health, which would issue a report that sent “shockwaves throughout the health establishment.”24 For the first time, the U.S. government acknowledged “the continuing disparity in the burden of death and illness experienced by Blacks and other minority Americans.” Among the report’s findings was the fact that these disparities led to an excess of 60,000 African American deaths every year. Congressman Louis Stokes, Carl’s brother, described the report as giving “those of us in Congress who were raising these issues the ability to speak with reference to an authoritative government study.” Unsurprisingly, then, public health had been an afterthought in Cleveland government prior to the election of Carl Stokes. Mayor Stokes sought to elevate its importance when he tapped Robert Morris, president of Case Western Reserve University, to head a nationwide search for a public health director. The search committee recommended Dr. Frank E. Ellis, a graduate of Meharry Medical College and the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Announcing Dr. Ellis’s appointment, Mayor Stokes said the “health of our people is at the top of our priority list,” adding that the health department would “no longer be buried in the city hall basement.”25 Dr. Ellis himself described the health department as “not just for the poor, but for all the people in our community.” The Health Planning and Development Commission, a predecessor to The Center for Community Solutions, took more of a wait-and-see approach: “There is yet no clearly defined, over-all health program for the City of Cleveland and thus developments are sporadic, fragmentary and uncoordinated.”26 Its leadership suggested that Dr. Ellis’s appointment could help, but added that health department “expenditures remain too low and sources of revenue are limited.” Undeterred, Dr. Ellis went on to reinvigorate the health department, organizing new programs in environmental health, alcohol and drug abuse, venereal disease education, health education, and community outreach. Cleveland’s Thomas J. McCafferty Health Center was opened to provide a range of services, including family planning, children’s health, a tuberculosis clinic, and a methadone clinic, while new bus routes were initiated from east side neighborhoods to Metropolitan General Hospital, now known as MetroHealth.27 On a parallel front, Mayor Stokes appointed what would eventually be a 52-member Commission on the Crisis in Welfare three days after he took office. At the time, 140,000 children in Ohio (nearly 30 percent of whom lived in Cleveland) were receiving an allowance from the state of only 85 cents a day.28 Just six months later, the commission delivered a sweeping report calling for a guaranteed income and a state income tax and arguing for the state government to serve as employer of last resort. Also drawn up was a “Bill of Rights for Welfare Clients,” which emphasized access to housing, health care, employment, and education.29
The National Medical Association (2002). “Racism in Medicine: Health Parity for African Americans.” “New City Health Chief Urges Community to Join in Program.” The Plain Dealer, September 7, 1968. 26 “Health Planning Groups Hailed.” The Plain Dealer, October 3, 1968. 27 “Viewpoints: Mayor Carl Stokes.” The Plain Dealer, September 25, 1969. 28 “19 Accept Appointments to Stokes’ Welfare Group.” The Plain Dealer, January 4, 1968. 29 “Welfare Commission Backs Guaranteed Income.” The Plain Dealer, June 28, 1968. 24 25
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Without Health, Nothing (Cont.) Mayor Stokes, however, clashed with Ohio Governor Jim Rhodes, particularly regarding Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) benefits.30 Stokes described the state’s failure to finance the benefits appropriately as “discriminatory treatment,” noting that people on welfare were “forced to exist on something that the state itself says is less than sufficient.”31 “Boys and girls are going hungry today because of the ridiculousness of the situation.” Stokes’s solution was for the state to implement an income tax as a way to adequately fund welfare payments. As part of his policy agenda to elevate public health, Mayor Stokes announced Cleveland: Now!, a public-private program that sought to raise $1.5 billion—$177 million in the first two years—to fund youth activities, employment programs, health clinics, housing, and economic renewal projects. Although initial fundraising was strong, the program faltered and was eventually dissolved after George Voinovich was elected mayor in 1980. Despite the program’s failings, nearly $1 million was invested in health and welfare programs, and many of the agencies or their successors continue to operate in Cleveland. In 1970, Mayor Stokes sought a 0.8 percent increase in the city income tax—a proposal defeated by voters. Defeat of the tax increase led to a 50 percent cut in the city’s health department budget, which resulted in layoffs of physicians and nurses and elimination of various health services for children and others.32 Later that year, Dr. Ellis departed for a post with the federal government.33 Gap in Life Expectancy between Blacks and Whites
Despite the policy failings, a foundation was laid. By 2014, nearly 50 years since Carl Stokes was elected mayor and his brother, Louis, was elected to the U.S. House of Representa7 tives, the gap in life expectancy between blacks and whites 6 had shrunk to 3.4 years—the smallest in U.S. history. Much 5 of this progress is owed to expanded health care access via 4 Medicaid and Medicare, the end of segregated health care, 3 and innovations in the prevention and treatment of disease. 2 1960 2014 These federal achievements were influenced heavily by the 7 Years 3.4 Years 1 advocacy of Congressman Stokes, who, from his important 0 perch on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, delivered hundreds of millions of dollars to efforts to advance the health of African Americans and other disadvantaged groups in Cleveland and across the country. Even greater advancements should be expected as the benefits of expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act are realized. If Mayor Stokes and Congressman Stokes were alive today and reviewing our progress in the area of health, we can imagine that they would be both pleased and disappointed—pleased by the real progress made in improving the health of African Americans and the disadvantaged and by the passage of the Affordable Care Act, yet disappointed by the rancor that characterizes so much of our current policy debate and by the stain of racism that still hampers so many of our efforts to improve the health of our community and our nation as a whole.
31 32 33
Note: The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, otherwise known as welfare reform, ultimately abolished ADC in 1996. “Stokes, Rhodes in Welfare Clash.” The Plain Dealer, April 8, 1969. Kent, F. “Medics Protest and City Defends Health-Care Cut.” The Plain Dealer, January 20, 1971. Kent, F. “City Health Roles Study Due as Ellis Departs.” The Plain Dealer, October 21, 1971.
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It’s clear from their records that Mayor Stokes and Congressman Stokes were advocates for activist government, be it at the local, state, or federal level. This is no doubt due to their personal histories growing up in public housing and receiving assistance. These experiences forged in them an understanding that poor people should have a voice in developing the programs and policies needed to help them. The following “hot-button” issues in the realm of public health would likely garner the Stokes brothers’ support: Maintain and Expand the Health Care Safety Net The Stokes brothers would certainly oppose efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and to end the entitlement to Medicaid coverage. Under the ACA, 3 million African Americans and 4 million Hispanics gained coverage, and their uninsured rate dropped by 11.8 percent and 11.3 percent respectively.34 Passage of the ACA has proved to be the single-largest advance in minority health since the creation of Medicaid and Medicare in 1965. For example, a substantial body of research has demonstrated that expanded Medicaid coverage for children has kept alive African-American children who otherwise would have died and has provided children health benefits that last into adulthood.35 Access to care could be improved by increasing funding for community health centers such as Northeast Ohio Neighborhood Health Services Inc. in Cleveland, which was created the same year Mayor Stokes was elected. Improve Infant and Maternal Health While U.S. infant mortality rates have improved, Ohio has lagged behind the rest of the nation. In 2015, a black baby born in Ohio was almost three times more likely to die before reaching one year of age than a white baby.36 According to research by The Center for Community Solutions, infant mortality racial disparities in the state persist even in the context of presumed mitigating factors, such as higher educational attainment. In Ohio, African-American women with four-year college degrees have higher rates of poor birth outcomes than white women with only a high school diploma.37 Maternal stress has been identified as a cause of preterm delivery, with black women experiencing stress at higher levels because of the racism, poverty, and discrimination they face. Carl Stokes would likely be supportive of the recently unveiled First Year Cleveland plan to reduce Cleveland’s infant mortality rates, but he would also want to guarantee that African-American communities and providers contribute to decision-making and play significant roles in carrying out the plan. Stokes was also a consistent supporter of reproductive health care, improving access to family planning during his tenure.38 As such, he would likely oppose current efforts to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood specifically and reproductive health care in general.
_____________________________________________________________ 30 30
30 30 30
McGirt, E. “How Repealing the ACA will Affect Minorities.” Fortune, January 10, 1971. Alker, J. and Chester, A. “Medicaid at 50: A Look at the Long-Term Benefits of Childhood Medicaid.” Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families (July 2015) “U.S. infant mortality rate hits historic low, Ohio lags other states in progress.” The Plain Dealer, March 21, 2017. Ahern, J. “Low Birth Weight and Prematurity in Ohio: A Multivariate Analysis.” The Center for Community Solutions (July 2017) “City Announces Expanded Health Services for Women.” Call and Post, September 18, 1971.
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Without Health, Nothing (Cont.) Strengthen Investments in Public Health For many years, health care spending has grown at a much faster rate than spending on public health, despite wide acceptance that lasting improvements in health cannot be made without addressing the social determinants of health. Public health challenges such as smoking, HIV, gun violence, and lead poisoning won’t be solved inside hospitals, but they may be solved when communities are given the resources to address underlying issues. For example, incidences of HIV/AIDS in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County have climbed higher than they were in 2010, with most new cases occurring in African-American men under age 24.39 A stronger public health response that includes targeted testing in high-risk neighborhoods, improved public awareness, culturally appropriate outreach, and school-based education could do more to turn these numbers around than simply providing more health care. Inadequate funding for Cleveland’s Department of Public Health has been a chronic problem and, despite new investments, is still not enough. We need a new public health funding model that moves resources out of health institutions and into the community. At the same time, we need to resist vigorously federal efforts to eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund.
Source: Cleveland Department of Public Health, HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Profile, City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County (2015) 39
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The health of the body goes beyond the prevention and treatment of disease and includes protection from physical harm and threat. This protection is a right for every citizen, and equal protection is a tenet of justice. Cleveland State University Professor Ronnie Dunn and Research Assistant Ma’Taya Hammond discuss the thinking and doing in the Stokes era when justice wasn’t served – or worse, when harm was brought on by those meant to protect and serve. Here, the issues are as fresh today as in the era of the Stokes brothers. The question, of course, is why?
Black and Blue Racial unrest in the wake of a growing number of deaths of unarmed African Americans at the hands of police has led many social, political, and media commentators to compare the racial climate in America today to that of the mid-to-late 1960s. More than 100 race riots occurred in cities and towns across America during the last half of the 1960s, including two in the city of Cleveland – one in 1966 and another in 1968. In his book, Police and the Black Community, Robert Wintersmith indicated that, like the recent unrest in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Charlotte, “virtually every urban rebellion that took place during the sixties was immediately preceded More than race by police-black-citizen confrontations.”40 In assessing the dynamics of riots present-day encounters between blacks and the police, preeminent policing scholar Samuel Walker echoed Wintersmith in his observation that “race occurred in continues to play a central role in police brutality in the United States” and America from that “the problem of police abuse is primarily a problem of race relations 1965-1970 and is one of the most volatile aspects of the national race crisis.”41
In 1967, the year of Stokes’s historic election, the Kerner Commission—convened by President Johnson to study the root causes of the riots—determined that they “were the result of blacks’ profound dissatisfaction with an American society in which racism was deeply embedded.”42 It is within this social context that Carl Stokes and his brother, Louis, marshaled black political power to become the first African-American mayor of a major U.S. city and the first African-American congressional representative from Ohio, respectively. In fact, the 1966 Hough riots—which lasted four days and resulted in the deaths of four black civilians, injuries to hundreds of civilians and police, hundreds of arrests, and property damage estimated between $1 million and $2 million43 —was a catalyst for Carl Stokes’s election victory, after he had suffered a narrow loss in 1965. Racial anxiety from the unrest in Hough helped garner Stokes the support of the white business community—he was seen as an insurance policy against future unrest—but the 1968 Glenville riot, occurring just 10 months into Stokes’s first term, dissipated much of that white support and further antagonized the relationship between his administration and the Cleveland Division of Police.
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Wintersmith, R. F. (1974). The Police and the Black Community. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books. Walker, S. (2001). Police Accountability: The role of citizen oversight. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (1968). New York, NY: Bantam Books. Moore, L.N. (2002). Carl B. Stokes and the Rise of Black Political Power. Urbana & Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
Black and Blue (Cont.) The “Glenville shootout” started when a Black Nationalist leader of the Republic of New Libya, Ahmed Evans, opened fire on a police stakeout, thinking his organization’s headquarters was under attack by police. It was later discovered that Evans purchased automatic weapons used in the 90-minute gun battle with police by using grant funding received from Cleveland NOW!, the Stokes administration’s signature economic development and community revitalization plan. When the ensuing riot ended five days later, seven people were dead, including three white police officers, three black nationalists, and one African-American civilian; an additional 12 police officers and two civilians were injured. After the first night of rioting and amid reports of police violence against black residents, Stokes removed white officers from Glenville and sent in the National Guard, along with “peace patrols” consisting of black public officials, clergy, and community leaders, so as to quell the violence and prevent retaliation against black residents by white officers. This infuriated the rank and file given that their “brothers in blue” had just died in a gun battle with black militants. The standing-down of the force created a rift between the administration and the police department that persisted throughout Stokes’s two terms (1968-1971). In fact, the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association was established in 1969 and cites the Glenville riots in its mission statement as “the most tragic day in the history of the Cleveland Police Department” and the catalyst of its origins.
*** In his autobiography, Stokes noted that “Glenville came like the cutting of a leash. In the next three and a half years there was almost no time that one or both newspapers did not have some kind of investigation going that concerned me or my administration.”44 Although Stokes did not specifically address public safety or policing in Cleveland NOW!, he discussed the police in great detail in his book, asserting: “I took my election as a mandate to reform the Police Department. I saw as one of my most important tasks the reform of the police…” Glenville Riot Memorial March, 1970 This need for reformation was tied to his questioning of “why the cries for law and order come from conservative whites, most of whom live safely in the suburbs,” when it was black people most affected by crime. He defined the victims of crime as “the murdered, the raped, the beaten, the robbed,” who were largely black.45 Yet, while the black community pleaded for police protection, according to Stokes, all residents got “was indifference, or patrols by men looking for an excuse to get violent themselves.” Stokes concluded bluntly: “For black people the local police are not to be supported, they are to be controlled.” The actual reforms Stokes sought were based on his knowledge of policing, which was formed from his experiences as a probation officer, a state liquor enforcement agent, and police prosecutor. His reforms were also drawn from recommendations included in a report by the 1966 Little Hoover Commission, which his predecessor initiated to examine each department within city government.46 Stokes wanted police to enforce the law as equitably in black neighborhoods as they did in white
_____________________________________________________________ 44 45 46
Stokes, Carl B., Promises of Power: A Political Autobiography (1973). Cleveland Memory. 27. Ibid. Dulaney, M.W. (2012). “Black Power and Police Administration in Two Cities: Cleveland and Atlanta.” Black Power Conference, September 22, Panel II, Charleston College, Charleston, SC.
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neighborhoods, to stop police violence and brutality against blacks, and to increase job opportunities for blacks and other minorities in the overwhelmingly white police department.47 Stokes also referenced the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report, “Cleveland’s Unfinished Business in Its Inner-City.”48 Co-chaired by Louis Stokes, the Commission’s Cleveland Subcommittee conducted hearings in April 1966 on the dire social, economic, and racial conditions in the city and issued its findings and recommendations two months later on June 30, 1966—two weeks prior to the Hough riots. Although Mayor Locher blamed the Hough riots on professional agitators, U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach cited “disease and despair, joblessness and hopelessness, rat-infested housing and long-impacted cynicism,” as the riots’ spark.49 Moreover, the Civil Rights Commission reported that: “Police have lost the respect of Negro residents in the Inner City [sic] who believe that police are discourteous and sometimes brutal, permit prostitution and gambling to flourish, and discriminate in their treatment of white and Negro citizens.”50 Similarly, the Little Hoover Report cited the police department’s inefficiencies in addressing crime in the city and an ingrained culture of graft and corruption controlled by white ethnic officers who used their jobs as police to enrich themselves. In 1966, the Cleveland Police Department had 2,186 sworn personnel, 135 (6 percent) of whom were black, none above the rank of sergeant; only one was Puerto Rican.51 The Hoover Report recommended new leadership to head the department, an abolishment of the safety director position, and a total reorganization of the department to provide clear lines Cleveland Police Department, 1966 of authority and responsibility. It also called for “an effective community relations program…so that both 94% White the police and the community may better understand 6% Black each other’s problems and together…seek meaningful <1% Hispanic solutions to the problems.”52
Although Stokes agreed with the Hoover Report recommendation to eliminate the safety director position, which “merely presided over matters of policy,”53 he knew that, because of Glenville, he couldn’t get public support to change the city charter and abolish the position. So he appointed Joseph McManamon, a campaign adviser, former police officer, and attorney who shared his progressive views on reforming the police department, as his safety director. Stokes and McManamon tried to appoint a similarly progressive-minded police chief to reform the department, but to no avail. In all, Stokes appointed four different chiefs and three safety directors during his administration before ultimately conceding: “My greatest frustration as mayor of Cleveland came through my futile attempts to reform the Police Department…When I left office after four years, the Cleveland Police Department was as politically corrupt, as Byzantine in its organization, as brutal in its understanding of the sources of crime, as it was before I came.”54
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51 52 53 54
Stokes, Carl B., Promises of Power: A Political Autobiography (1973). Cleveland Memory. 27. U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1966). Cleveland’s Unfinished Business in Its Inner City. Ohio State Advisory Committee – Cleveland Subcommittee. Fischer, R. “Why Hough Got Tough—The Real Agitators” (September 10, 1966). The New Republic. Eastman, G.D., Sommer, A.A., Jr., Kissell, C., & Witzke, D.C. (1966). Cleveland Little Hoover Commission Project #6 – Police. The Eastman Report of Police City of Cleveland. Ibid. Ibid. Stokes, Carl B., “Promises of Power: A Political Autobiography” (1973). Cleveland Memory. 27. Ibid.
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Black and Blue (Cont.) Despite his inability to change the department, Stokes counted among his successes having black officers reassigned to police districts on the overwhelmingly white west side, revising the civil service hiring process to enhance the quality of officers, and providing greater employment opportunities for blacks and Hispanics. He also saw his appointment of a black chief police prosecutor as significant in addressing some of the practices that enabled police to brutalize and harass the black community with impunity. As the first black mayor of a major city, Stokes felt a profound obligation to reform the Cleveland Police Department, particularly relative to race, yet was limited in his ability to do so. Ironically, a case emanating from the Cleveland Police Department that involved race would serve as a milestone in the legal career of his brother and have a profound effect on policing in the United States. The 1968 landmark Terry v. Ohio case that Louis argued before the U.S. Supreme Court prior to being elected to Congress helped define the legal parameters governing the procedures by which police could stop and search a person on the street. The case has proved longstanding, ensuring safeguards against “unreasonable search and seizure”— a protection germane to the contemporary issues of racial profiling. Specifically, although the court upheld the lower courts’ rulings against his client for carrying a concealed weapon, the congressman noted: “Since the decision came down, the Terry case has been taught in every law school, and the Terry Rules have been taught in every police academy. Today every policeman in America knows those rules. Police profiling of blacks and Hispanics is regularly challenged as a violation of the Terry Rules…I did feel good that I had been able to get the Supreme Court to carefully consider the factual circumstances of police stops like these and define the workings of the Fourth Amendment.”55
*** Today, Cleveland has a majority black population, yet its police department is 67 percent white, 22 percent black, and 9 percent Hispanic. The city has had three African-American mayors — Stokes, Michael R. White (1990-2002), and current mayor Frank G. Jackson (2006), who is running for an unprecedented fourth term. The city has also had three African-American police chiefs, one of whom was female. Regardless of race, most mayors since Stokes have had challenges with the Cleveland Police Department. White, for instance, initiated an FBI investigation of the department for “organized racist activity” in 2000. Although the investigation did not find evidence of such activity, the investigative file contained a memo from the deputy chief of operations Cleveland Police Department, 2017 that explicitly stated, “We, the Cleveland Division of Police, racially profile African Americans, particularly 67% White young black males.” The memo went on to detail how 22% Black 9% Hispanic the profiling occurred. Nothing came of the investigation, but the memo stands as a timestamp for events that followed.
Stokes, L. & Chanoff, D. (2016). The Gentleman from Ohio. Columbus, OH: Trillium.
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White’s successor, Jane Campbell—the city’s only female mayor—experienced a considerable number of police-involved shootings of unarmed African-American men during her administration. Four resulted in fatalities, three of which occurred within a one-month period at the end of summer 2005. Facing a $60 million budget deficit, Campbell laid off 700 city employees, including 252 police officers and 70 firefighters. The layoffs cost her politically, as her former safety director and then-city council president, Frank Jackson, challenged her in the 2006 mayoral race—and won. Upon taking office, Jackson issued a police policy directive that stated “excessive and unnecessary use of deadly force would not be tolerated.”56 The policy initially appeared to reduce deadly use of force by police, but eventually its effect waned, resulting in two of the most egregious deadly use-of-force cases in U.S. police history: the 2012 Timothy Russell/Malissa Williams shooting, also referred to as “The 137-Shot Atrocity,” and the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014. The Russell/Williams shooting led the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to open a “pattern or practice” investigation of the Cleveland Police Department, and the Rice shooting sparked demonstrations and protests in Cleveland and cities across the country and thrust Cleveland into a national debate on policing. The DOJ investigation found reasonable cause to believe that the Cleveland Police Department “engages in a pattern or practice of the use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution,” and it “determined that structural and systemic deficiencies and practices—including insufficient accountability, inadequate training, ineffective policies, and inadequate engagement with the community—contribute to the use of unreasonable force.”57 Reforms called for in the consent decree between the city and DOJ cover 14 broad areas, including revised use-of-force policies, crisis intervention training, community engagement and trust-building, a 13-person CommunityPolice Commission representing the city’s diverse communities, community and problem-oriented policing, bias-free policing, a revamped accountability system with real enforcement, increased transparency and oversight, and comprehensive data collection and analysis. The agreement also requires enhanced training and ensures that officers have necessary equipment and resources to effectively and safely perform their jobs. Many of the problems Mayor Stokes confronted relative to policing and public safety are evident in the current national crisis. Given recent events, the problems show no signs of abating. Although 2018 will mark 50 years since the landmark Terry ruling, racial profiling persists as a problem—a salient aspect of the overabundance of deadly encounters between African Americans and police, which has given rise to the Black Lives Matter movement. The most frequent contact the average citizen has with police comes through a traffic stop (59%), and blacks and Hispanics are far more likely to be stopped by police than are whites.58
Dunn, R.A. (2016). Racial Profiling: A Persistent Civil Rights Challenge Even in the Twenty-First Century. Case Western Reserve Law Review, 66(4), 957-992. U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division (2014). Investigation of the Cleveland Division of Police. U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Ohio. Eith, C. & Durose, M. (2011). Contacts Between Police and the Public, 2008.
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Black and Blue (Cont.) A study of traffic ticketing patterns in four jurisdictions within Cuyahoga County found that blacks and other minorities were disproportionately ticketed in Cleveland and Shaker Heights, particularly for “driving under suspension” and “seatbelt” violations, which are non-moving violations.59,60 Consistent with these findings, a recent Cleveland.com report revealed that the poor, particularly minorities, are disproportionately subjected to license suspension, which subsequently creates financial hardships, a deeper involvement in the criminal justice system, barriers to employment, and other adverse socioeconomic effects.61,62 Despite these and similar findings, to date no municipality within Cuyahoga County has enacted legislation to address this problem.63 That said, the police reforms entailed in Cleveland’s consent decree represent the latest innovations and best practices in use-of-force policies, incident reporting and investigation procedures, citizen complaint procedures, and early intervention systems. To the extent objectively practicable, these policies and procedures must be adopted widely by law enforcement agencies, regardless of whether they are under federal oversight.64 This includes special police districts operating under memorandums of understanding within the jurisdiction of agencies under federal oversight (e.g., University of Cincinnati Police and the Cincinnati Police Department), suburban police departments, and county sheriff’s departments.65 As one policing scholar counsels: “No police department should be in the position where it can be sued by the Justice Department, because past cases make clear what is expected of them to achieve professional, bias-free and accountable policing.”66 In other words, lack of justice is due not to a lack of knowledge, but to a lack of will.
61 62 63
Dunn, R.A. (2016). Racial Profiling: A Persistent Civil Rights Challenge Even in the Twenty-First Century. Case Western Reserve Law Review, "(4), 957-992. Note: Only blacks were disproportionately ticketed in Shaker, not other minorities. A number of jurisdictions in Cuyahoga County were not willing to participate in the study to examine racial disparities in traffic enforcement. Dorn, S. “License suspension disproportionately imposed on poor Ohioans, trapping them in debt.” Accessed March 31, 2017. Note: This issue is directly related to the work of the Cuyahoga County Bail Reform Initiative and deserves further attention. Note: Bias-free policing legislation has been introduced to Cleveland City Council and is awaiting approval by the parties to the consent decree. Note: The state of Ohio leads the nation in law enforcement agencies that have come under federal oversight with five: Cleveland, Warren, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Steubenville. California and Montana have the next-highest number with two each. Note: The Cincinnati Police Department, which was under a consent decree between 2002 and 2008, is today held as a national model of community-problem-oriented policing and of much-improved community-police relations. Yet the University of Cincinnati, which operates within the city through an MOA, doesn’t practice community policing. This contributed to the 2016 shooting death of Samuel Dubose, an unarmed African-American motorist. Walker, S. (2013). Civil Rights Investigations of Local Police: Lessons Learned, Critical Issues in Policing Series. Washington, D.C.: Police Executive Research Forum.
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Education is famously known as the “great equalizer.” It is the point of intervention where one’s potential is actualized into worth. It is also a category where inequities can deliver a fatal blow to the promise and prosperity of urban core cities like Cleveland. Below, Randell McShepard, Greg Brown, and Fran Stewart, Ph.D., of PolicyBridge detail how Cleveland is doing in its ability to grow its young into productive people, ultimately contributing value to the city and to the world.
A Sobering Lesson The 50 years since Carl Stokes helped break the nation’s color barrier by being elected the city’s mayor is typically described in broad colorful strokes: black diaspora, redlining, (yellow) busing, and white flight. The broad strokes largely paint an accurate picture of the sweeping changes that have brought the city to the point where its public schools receive a bright red “F” for serving its mostly black and brown students. Despite various waves of reform over the past several decades, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District received yet another failing grade on the 2016 Ohio school report card.67 By state standards, the district (serving about 38,700 students) failed to achieve, failed to progress, failed in basic literacy, failed to add value, failed to graduate its students, and failed to prepare them for success in life. The broad strokes reveal in stark relief a half-century of racial tensions and segregation, but they omit other important fine details that add perspective and contour. They fail to capture the diminishment of blue-collar jobs and the amplification of white- and pink-collar ones. They fail to convey the enticement of greenfields and the encumbrance of brown ones. Like the multiple levels of reality evident in an M.C. Escher sketch, the past 50 years of education in Cleveland is not the oft-cited two-dimensional construct of schools and race, but a complex, multidimensional equation where social, cultural, and economic forces intersect and reflect back on each other. To set a new trajectory for education in Cleveland over the next 50 years, we need to understand and address dynamics such as workforce, housing, crime, and health that have shaped and altered its path for the past half-century.
*** Carl Stokes and his brother Louis, himself an icon of national politics, credit their mother’s wise counsel regarding education as launching them on their influential paths in life. A 1967 TIME cover story on Cleveland’s new mayor described Louise, who worked as a cleaning woman for 40 years, as enjoining her sons to “study, so you’ll be somebody.”68 The “somebody” Carl Stokes became was the first black mayor of one of America’s largest cities. His mother’s advice on pursuing education may have launched his career path, but his community’s frustration with its segregated, overcrowded, and substandard school system is what led to Stokes—then a state representative—being drafted for his first, barely unsuccessful, mayoral race in 1965.69
Exner, R. (September 26, 2016). 2016 Ohio School Report Cards. The Plain Dealer. Available at: http://www.cleveland.com/ datacentral/index.ssf/2016/09/2016_ohio_school_report_cards.html (accessed August 14, 2017). 68 Elections: The Real Black Power. (November 17, 1967). Time. Available at: http://content.time.com/time/magazine/ article/0,9171,844058,00.html (accessed August 14, 2017). 69 Moore, L.N. (2002). The School Desegregation Crisis of Cleveland, Ohio, 1964-1964: The Catalyst for Black Political Power in a Northern City. Journal of Urban History, 28(2), 135-157. 67
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A Sobering Lesson (Cont.) The decade in which Stokes took office marked a turning point in Cleveland’s history. The more than half-century of expansive population From 1940 to 1960, Ohio’s non- growth would be replaced by a more than half-century of punishing decline. The challenges Stokes’s predecessors faced were related to dealing with white population the thousands of new residents streaming into the city, drawn from southincreased by ern states and other parts of the world by the promise of a well-paying job and a better life for themselves and their families. By 1960, 28.5 percent of the Cleveland population was classified by the U.S. Census as “nonwhite,” compared to 21.6 percent in Cincinnati and 16.3 percent in Columbus. Another 11 percent of Clevelanders were foreign-born, compared to 3.3 percent in Cincinnati and 2.3 percent in Columbus. State records show that the nonwhite population, which was almost exclusively black, increased by 132 percent from 1940 to 1960, with the vast majority of the new residents concentrated in Cleveland and other urban areas.
Changing racial and ethnic demographics presented a particular challenge for a public school system that struggled to absorb thousands of new students from different backgrounds, with different educational experiences, and speaking different languages or dialects. As early as the 1920s, complaints were raised about certain schools within the Cleveland system becoming a “dumping ground” for black students,70 providing those students with half the traditional offering of subjects. Just a few years before Mayor Stokes took office, Cleveland Public Schools had expanded to nearly 150,000 students. The district was already struggling to cope with depopulation and an eroding tax base. In the 1960s, staffing levels and per-pupil expenditures were among the lowest for schools in Cuyahoga County.71 Schools were overcrowded, necessitating only half-day schedules for many students. Dropout rates and delinquencies were high. Charitable foundations and the federal government intervened to provide wraparound home services, remedial help, and vocational training. Plans to build new schools to alleviate overcrowding were boycotted by civil rights groups that saw the efforts as attempts to further segregate black students. The protests won promises of reform, including busing black students to better integrate district schools, remedial and tutoring help, summer schooling, and hiring more black teachers. The late 1960s saw public support for new buildings, afterschool programming, job training and adult education. Mayor Stokes with Charles Orr School Students Yet Cleveland schools remained segregated. Civil rights groups filed suit, alleging systemic discrimination; the school board, led by black businessman Arnold Pinkney, countered that unequal representation in neighborhood schools was an outgrowth of housing patterns beyond the ability of schools to remedy. In 1976, Federal Judge Frank Battisti found Cleveland Public Schools and the state Board of Education to be guilty of segregating black students.72 Widespread busing of students to desegregate schools began in 1979 and continued until 1996. _____________________________________________________________ 70
Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Cleveland Public Schools. Case Western Reserve University. Available at: https://case. edu/ech/articles/c/cleveland-public-schools/ (accessed August 14, 2017). Ibid. Ibid.
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In response to Battisti’s ruling, Superintendent of Schools Paul Briggs predicted that the busing order would accelerate white flight and disinvestment in the district. In 1960, black students made up 47.5 percent of enrollment in Cleveland public elementary schools and 36.2 percent of high school enrollment. By the 1980 census, taken directly after busing started, black students made up nearly 63.3 percent of Cleveland public elementary school enrollment and 65 percent of high school enrollment.73 Black Enrollment, Cleveland Public Schools 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0
High School 36.2%
High School 65.0%
*** The dramatic shift in enrollment concentrations would seem to suggest that Briggs, who resigned his post in 1978, was prescient in his prediction. The exodus of white residents, as well as middle-income black residents, continued. Levies failed. The district suffered from a “revolving door” of 12 different superintendents over a 20-year period.74 Hallmarks of the two decades following the court ruling were fiscal emergency, state control, and federal court oversight. In 1997, the Ohio Legislature voted to allow Cleveland schools to shift from an elected school board, the model for all other Ohio districts, to mayoral control of an appointed board. The district has remained under mayoral control ever since. It’s important to understand that Cleveland’s educational challenges have mirrored national ones: a shifting of population, especially middle-income families, away from the urban core; a loss of industrial base, first from greenfield advantages and later from global competition; job migration or loss due to changes in business and industry; revised academic expectations and funding formulas; and a failure to update classroom curricula to meet the needs of the knowledge economy. However, it is also clear that some characteristics of Cleveland specifically served to exacerbate its school issues and leave it ill-equipped to confront a changing landscape. Driving the good jobs and better lives that brought so many from various backgrounds streaming into Cleveland in the first half of the 20th century was the city’s industrial might. Manufacturing employment in Ohio peaked at nearly 1.5 million jobs in 1969, the year after Stokes took office. The next few decades saw automation and global competition restructure manufacturing, and by 2015 manufacturing employment in the state shrunk to less than half its 1969 level (687,000).75 Given that much of Ohio’s manufacturing activity was centered in Cleveland, the city had distinctly benefited from the rise in manufacturing and was particularly buffeted by its decline.
_____________________________________________________________ 73 74
U.S. Census. Population and Housing Characteristics. 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980. O’Donnell, P. (August 21, 2011). Mayoral Control of the Cleveland City Schools Has Brought Stability But Other Improvements Hard to Measure. The Plain Dealer. Available at: http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2011/08/mayoral_control_of_the_clevela. html (accessed August 14, 2017). U.S. Census Bureau. Census of Manufactures. Selected Years.
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A Sobering Lesson (Cont.) The very same year that Ohio saw its manufacturing employment peak, business management consultant and educator Peter Drucker foretold the rising value of the “knowledge worker”76 as the U.S. economy shifted from goods production to service provision. He predicted the need for bettereducated workers who would be able to apply their knowledge and skill in the burgeoning technological, scientific, and financial industries. However, Cleveland’s legacy of manufacturing, which tended to have relatively low educational expectations of its workforce, put the city and its workers at a disadvantage as the economy began to change. The vast majority of Clevelanders aged 25 and older in 1960 had failed to complete high school.77 This held for both white (69.1%) and nonwhite (71.9%) residents. Nearly one-quarter of nonwhite adults in the city had a Cleveland Adults Without a sixth-grade education or less. White and nonwhite High School Diploma Clevelanders had relatively similar achievement on the 70% other end of the educational spectrum: 4.3 percent of 60% white adults and 3.3 percent of nonwhite adults had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. College completion 50% among white Clevelanders was more similar to that of 40% black Clevelanders than to white adults in Columbus and 30% Cincinnati—both home to large public universities. 20% A half-century later, Cleveland continues to struggle to 1960 2014 10% make the shift to an economy that demands and rewards 69.9% 22.6% 0 better-educated workers.78 Another somewhat unique Cleveland characteristic that has shaped its educational legacy relates to the cultural diversity of the people drawn here. Many of the immigrants drawn to Cleveland in the first half of the 20th century were of Catholic or Jewish backgrounds. Both faiths have a rich history of educational institutions. This meant that Cleveland had a robust infrastructure of educational alternatives to the public school system. In 1960, 41.1 percent of white, elementary-age students in Cleveland attended private schools and 33 percent of high schoolers did.79 This was substantially higher than the share of white students in Cincinnati and Columbus who attended private, mostly religious, institutions. The share was relatively similar in 1980, after the start of busing. However, black students were largely absent from the classrooms of private, mostly religious, schools. In 1980, only about 7 percent of black students in Cleveland attended private school.80 With no disrespect to the quality and value of private, religious education, the availability of such schools may have served to weaken the bond between Clevelanders and their public school system, especially compared to other communities with limited educational alternatives. The disproportionate share of black students who attended the public schools meant that black families disproportionately relied on Cleveland’s public school system.
Drucker, P. (1969; 1992 reprinted.) Age of Discontinuity: Guidelines to Our Changing Society. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers. U.S. Census. Population and Housing Characteristics. 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980. Note: Within the city of Cleveland, only 15.6% of residents 25 and older in 2015 had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the American Community Survey 5-year estimate. U.S. Census. Population and Housing Characteristics. 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980. Ibid.
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4-year High School Graduation Rate, CMSD
Fifty years after Carl Stokes’s historic election, Cleveland continues to suffer from educational 70% pursuits and investments that are below what is 60% necessary to compete in today’s economy and break 50% cycles of poverty. Yet there are signs of progress. 40% The Cleveland Metropolitan School District has seen 30% improvement in student college- and career-readiness. 20% 56% 69% The four-year high school graduation rate among CMSD 10% students has risen from 56 percent in 2012 to 69 0 2012 2016 percent in 2016, according to a report from the Higher Education Compact.81 One-quarter of all CMSD graduates in 2016 met the College Now readiness standard of at least an 18 on the ACT and a GPA of 2.5 or higher, an increase of 3 percentage points over 2012.82 In addition, more students are graduating with a “B” or better average, more students are enrolling in postsecondary classes to get a head start on college credits, and fewer are graduating needing math or English remediation (62% in 2016 compared to 76% in 2012).83 The six-year college graduation rate for CMSD students enrolled in four-year Higher Education Compact institutions has risen from 28 percent in 2011 to 33 percent in 2016.84 Despite improved preparation for college, too few CMSD graduates are choosing to enroll in college or postsecondary training programs. This is especially troubling given predictions that, by 2020, most new jobs will require some sort of educational degree or training credential beyond a high school diploma. The positive but slow improvement in educational achievements among CMSD students seems even more incremental and inadequate when compared to educational gains within the region overall. The share of the regional workforce with a bachelor’s degree or higher grew from 33.4 percent in 2000 to 40.2 percent in 2015.85 Moreover, the share of regional workers with a master’s degree or higher increased from 10.5 percent in 2000 to 17.1 percent in 2015. The city’s low-educated population shrank from 27.4 percent in 2009 to 22.6 percent in 2014. That is marked improvement, but it means that one of every five Among Clevelanders Cleveland residents still has a less-than-high-school education. with less than a high Among Clevelanders with less than a high school education, 47.2 percent were living in poverty, earning a median wage of less than school education $14,500. However, in the context of a city that has a majorityminority population and that has little more than a third of workers were living in poverty, employed in full-time permanent jobs, even high educational earning a median wage attainment does not necessarily yield the expected economic benefit: 14.4 percent of Clevelanders aged 25 and older with a of less than $14,500 bachelor’s degree or higher lived in poverty in 2014.
82 83 84 85
Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland. 2016 Report to the Community. Available at: http://highereducation compact.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/16-3420-CN-HigherEd-Annual-Report-FA-pgs-web.pdf (accessed August 14, 2017). Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Piiparinen, R., Russell, J., & Post, C. (October 2, 2015). A Reason to Be – The “Upskilling” of Cleveland’s Workforce. Center for Population Dynamics Quarterly Brief, Cleveland State University.
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A Sobering Lesson (Cont.) Drawing lessons from history is an important domain of education. But education is, by its nature, forward-looking. Five-year-olds who start kindergarten will spend more than a decade or two before they put what they have learned to use for career and community. Such long time horizons are invariably difficult terrain for policies, made all the more challenging by forces outside the classroom that impact learning. The 50 years since Stokes’s election have made plain the intersection of education, jobs, neighborhoods, health care, and personal safety. The past 50 years have been a period of economic, political, social, and educational disruption, and the next 50 years augur even more. Self-driving cars, cashier-less grocery stores, automated medical diagnostic tools, even virtual classrooms will disrupt the economy and, in so doing, disrupt educational systems. One priority for Cleveland’s educational system seems clear: It must do a better job of preparing its students for the changes that are sure to come and ensuring that students graduate with the knowledge and skills that the good jobs of today and of the future demand. To do that, CMSD must purposefully confront the obvious racism and lack of equity that have contributed to educational underperformance among minority students in the city and around the nation. It must accept and live up to the critical role education, particularly primary and secondary education, plays in economic mobility. So much of the conversation around education today centers on college completion, yet students who are denied access to an adequate primary and secondary education are not likely to pursue, let alone succeed in, higher education. Access to quality primary and secondary—as well as early childhood—education must be recognized for the economic imperative that it is. That is one clear lesson of the past half-century. Yet city schools cannot be expected to singlehandedly shield and sustain students buffeted by forces of economic distress, health inequity, housing insecurity, and safety concerns. The schools need buy-in and support from local businesses. Support from the Greater Cleveland Partnership, which advocates on behalf of the local business community, helped win approval from voters of a $15 million, four-year renewal levy of the Cleveland Plan in 2016. This is welcomed and visible acknowledgment from Cleveland residents and its businesses of the important work of transforming and reimagining CMSD as not only what is owed students, but also what is necessary for the city’s future. Yet businesses can do more to contribute to success than lend their support to levy efforts every four years. Students in Cleveland schools need to see more role models of workers in professional and manufacturing careers. They need better exposure to career opportunities through internships and apprenticeships. They need caring mentors to guide them through school and early careers to help them navigate transitions. The schools, of course, need support from local and state political leaders, ensuring that funding formulas and academic standards are adequate and appropriate to prepare students for college and careers. Additional resources for vocational training and access to after-school and summer programming, especially in science and technical fields, will help prepare students for future opportunities. Cleveland students and schools also need the support of residents of the region at large. The region cannot achieve its potential if large numbers of its young people fail to achieve theirs. Cleveland cannot wait another 50 years to learn that important lesson.
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Many issues affect life in cities like Cleveland, but perhaps the most basic of all is job quality and availability. Decent jobs let people cover basic needs, save for retirement and higher education, and be good parents. Amy Hanauer of think tank Policy Matters Ohio reflects below on Mayor Stokes’s commitment to jobs and the economy and our continued struggle to fulfill that commitment.
Good Jobs and an Urban Agenda In 1967, in a city where white voters outnumbered black voters almost two to one, Cleveland residents elected Carl Stokes as the first big-city black mayor in the United States. In two short terms, he pushed through a visionary program of urban investment and used his office to try to redefine the relationship between the federal government and America’s beleaguered cities. When Stokes became mayor, America was still riding out the end of a wartime and postwar manufacturing boom that provided unprecedented access to the middle class for workers and their families. Whether it was yet fully apparent, however, Cleveland’s best days were already receding in the rearview mirrors of cars headed toward the suburbs. By 1967, the city had shrunk below 800,000, and it has continued to decline since—to just 385,000 by 2016. Hough Neighborhood, 1950-1960 Population 90,000 80,000 70,000 60,000 50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 0
66,000 (5% Black)
71,000 (75% Black)
Before shrinking, Cleveland flipped, with neighborhoods going from almost all white to almost all black within a decade, often becoming wildly overcrowded before starting to empty out. The Hough neighborhood that featured so prominently in Stokes’s election ballooned from 66,000 in 1950 to 82,000 in 1955, then deflated back to 71,000 by 1960. Over that time, the population went from 95 percent white to 75 percent black.86
Writing in 1968, Kenneth Weinberg (who worked on Stokes’s campaign) said Cleveland prior to Stokes’s election had sunk “into a numbing stupor of despair and frustration, with pollution of the spirit threatening to match that of its air and waterways.”87 He cited “slum areas [that] festered with disease and resentment.”88 It wasn’t just Stokes’s supporters who described horrendous conditions. Stokes’s primary opponent, Frank Celeste, described “a house where sixteen kids were trying to sleep in two rooms, vying with the rats for a place to lie.”89
_____________________________________________________________ 86 87 88 89
Moore, L.N. (2003). Carl B. Stokes and the Rise of Black Political Power. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press. Weinberg, K.G. (1968). Black Victory: Carl Stokes and the Winning of Cleveland. Chicago: Quadrangle Books. Ibid. Zannes, E. (1972). Checkmate in Cleveland: The Rhetoric of Confrontation During the Stokes Years. Cleveland: The Press of Case Western Reserve University.
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Good Jobs and an Urban Agenda (Cont.) The Cleveland subcommittee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights deemed Hough’s living conditions deplorable, with extreme poverty and prostitutes on parade. “Store fronts are boarded up. Unoccupied houses have been vandalized. Stench rises from the debris-filled basements of burned out buildings. Litter fills street curbs. Garbage and trash are scattered in yards and vacant lots.”90
Between 1953-1964, Cleveland lost
80,000 blue-collar positions
At the root of these abominable conditions were two forms of discrimination. The first, in housing, meant limited places where Cleveland’s growing black community could live. The second, in employment, limited African American access to good jobs during the heyday of the postwar boom, then trapped them in deindustrialized job deserts. Between 1953 and 1964, Cleveland lost roughly 80,000 blue-collar positions. Jobs created in Northeast Ohio were increasingly in service, and more than half were in the suburbs.91
Companies, employment agencies, the public sector, and labor unions discriminated against black applicants, both explicitly and implicitly, so that black Clevelanders, at 10 percent of the 1960 metropolitan labor force, were 32 percent of the unemployed.92 The jobs they had were mostly low-wage. Retired Plain Dealer reporter Dick Peery, who, as an African-American high school student in the 1950s, worked alongside many black waiters with college degrees, said, “They couldn’t get jobs they were trained for.”93 In 1959, the median income was $7,350 for a white family and just $4,768 for a black family— a 54 percent disparity. More than 84 percent of recipients of Aid to Dependent Children lived in predominantly black areas.94
*** But President Johnson’s War on Poverty and the Civil Rights Movement created new opportunities for black workers, and Carl Stokes played a key role in both. Stokes came in with a bold agenda to improve the lives of workers, particularly black workers. He hired black employees from the bottom to the very top of city government, including the first black law director, safety director, city treasurer and more. He secured the nation’s strongest anti-discrimination law for city contractors. Stokes went beyond what he could do through his formal role as mayor. He pushed private employers to integrate, applying personal pressure, passing new laws, and lobbying the federal government to improve enforcement. He forced banks to increase lending to black borrowers, withdrawing city funds to spur compliance. That resulted in more than $6 million in loans to black-owned businesses over the next few years. Stanley Miller, who became vice president at AT&T and later ran the Cleveland NAACP, hailed the effect Stokes had on a generation of black leaders: “If not for the Stokes brothers, I would not have been a VP at a Fortune 500 company.”95
91 92 93 94 95
Shoot-Out in Cleveland: Black Militants and the Police. (1969). Report submitted to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence by the Civil Violence Research Center, Case Western Reserve University. Moore, L.N. (2003). Carl B. Stokes and the Rise of Black Political Power. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press. Ibid. Interview with Richard Peery, July 19, 2017. Moore, L.N. (2003). Carl B. Stokes and the Rise of Black Political Power. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press. Interview with Stanley Miller, July 17, 2017.
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Stokes also created jobs, particularly for the most disadvantaged. His $1.5 billion Cleveland: NOW! plan included a commitment from businesses to hire at least 11,000 hard-core unemployed and to provide $750,000 for youth jobs in neighborhood cleanup, recreation, education, training, and culture. “After Stokes became mayor,” Peery said, “every kid over 14 who wanted a job would get one.” Stokes used every tool available—and forged some new ones—to bring economic opportunity to city residents, particularly black Clevelanders. For example, of the 1,200 McDonald’s restaurants nationwide, only one had a black owner. Through a creative combination of boycotts, meetings, and other activism, Stokes helped negotiate black owners for two local and 21 national McDonalds’ in black communities, solidifying his role as not just mayor of Cleveland but as a national voice.96 Although discrimination was extreme and deindustrialization underway, manufacturing jobs were still available in Cleveland in the late 1960s, even if less plentiful than they had been. And wages continued to rise into the 1970s. “When Carl Stokes was mayor of Cleveland, you could—without a high school diploma—buy a house, send your kids to college, and live happily ever after,” Miller said. “Jobs today require a much better-educated community.”
Mayor Stokes greeting White Motors, Inc. employees
Lyndon Johnson’s administration turned to Stokes as an inspiring political leader and source of innovation on urban crises. Johnson’s key domestic priorities – civil rights, poverty alleviation, Medicare and Medicaid, Head Start, job training, housing, and employment – all had particular relevance to cities like Cleveland. Stokes promoted the idea that America should have an urban policy and elevated Cleveland as the poster child for that national agenda. Just as Johnson, and later even Nixon, were influenced by Stokes’s leadership, other cities were as well. “Things that Stokes did were picked up by every black mayor of that generation,” Peery said.
The policies had a big impact. Without the Clean Water Act, passed at Stokes’s urging with the burning Cuyahoga in mind, many American waterways would still be unswimmable and unfishable. Without the War on Poverty programs, poverty today would be about twice what it is.97 As Peery recalls, “After the War on Poverty programs, all of a sudden there were no more collegetrained waiters. All of a sudden, they could get a job…A generation was given some stability in life for the first time.” Many problems facing Cleveland have changed, though struggling schools are a constant. Extreme overcrowding, rats, flammable water, overt employment discrimination, and almost zero access to the suburbs for black Ohioans are in the past. But today, Cleveland faces vacant board-ups; low-wage, non-unionized jobs far from where residents live; excessive levels of incarceration; and neighborhoods largely abandoned by both the black and white middle class.
Moore, L.N. (2003). Carl B. Stokes and the Rise of Black Political Power. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press. U.S. Census. Supplemental Poverty Measure 2015. Available at: https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/ publications/2016/demo/p60-258.pdf (accessed August 14, 2017). 96 97
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Good Jobs and an Urban Agenda (Cont.) America is not poorer than it was in 1967 – not even close. In the 25 years leading up to Stokes’s time in office, productivity grew 96.7 percent while average hourly compensation grew almost the same amount, 91.3 percent. Since 1973, hourly productivity has grown 6.6 times faster than hourly pay. The returns of our economy simply stopped being widely and equitably distributed and began increasingly going – almost exclusively—to the very wealthiest. In 1967, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans controlled 27 percent of the country’s wealth. Today, they control 42 percent. In 1965, CEOs made 20 times what the typical worker made. Last year, they made 271 times as much.98 Cleveland has a thriving health sector, three lively college campuses, a world-class art museum, and a busy Rock Hall, science museum and new aquarium, among other attractions. Public resources have been spent to beautify downtown’s Public Square, Edgewater Beach, three sports facilities, and many of the city’s public schools. The public hospital employs and treats urban residents. More importantly, devoted community leaders enliven many neighborhoods. Churches teem with members on Sunday mornings, carefully tended gardens are everywhere, and children swim in the cleaned-up lake. But over the past 45 years, jobs and capital have poured out of Cleveland and cities like it, abetted by suburban and rural interests with outsize political power. Weak zoning and sprawl hurt urban vitality and the larger ecosystem, gobbling up green space. When Stokes was mayor, 70 percent of America’s population lived in cities.99 While the numbers are not totally comparable (the census doesn’t define ‘suburban’), in a 2015 survey, just 26 percent of Americans described their communities as urban.100 Unions also faded, contributing to workers having less power to bargain for better wages. In 1967, 3 in 10 workers were able to bargain collectively through labor unions. Today, just over 1 in 10 can. These forces—soaring inequality, kneecapped unions, and unmanaged sprawl—have devastated black, poor, and urban communities. Certainly, they’ve devastated Cleveland. Statewide, also, there are large barriers for black Ohioans. The average black Ohio worker earned just $32,440 in 2015, compared to $45,898 for the average white worker. Wage disparities have worsened—last year the median black Ohio worker earned just $14.61 per hour, compared to $17.96 for a white worker, a 22 percent gap, up from as low as a 5 percent difference in the early 1980s. Median Income $45,000 35,000 25,000 15,000
Mishel, L., & Schieder, J. (July 20, 2017). CEO Pay Remains High Relative to the Pay of Typical Workers and High Wage Earners. Economic Policy Institute. Available at: http://www.epi.org/publication/ceo-pay-remains-high-relative-to-the-pay-oftypical-workers-and-high-wage-earners/ (accessed August 14, 2017). 99 Moore, L.N. (2003). Carl B. Stokes and the Rise of Black Political Power. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press. 100 Kolko, J. (May 21, 2015). How Suburban are Big American Cities? FiveThirtyEight. Available at: https://fivethirtyeight.com/ features/how-suburban-are-big-american-cities/ (accessed August 14, 2017). 98
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But it’s not just black workers who are struggling. Ohio’s median wage is no higher than it was in 1979, despite the growth in the economy. Raising Ohio’s minimum wage to $15 by 2025 would boost the wages of a staggering 47 percent of black workers and 32 percent of white workers. Of the top 13 occupations in Ohio, 11 now pay less than $34,000 a year, leaving a small family in or near the official poverty level. That is a broken economy. People who knew him say Carl Stokes would agree. “Carl Stokes would be extremely tormented if he were around today,” Peery said. Stokes would have acted, Miller said. “I often think, ‘Where is the Carl Stokes of 2017, a person who can make very difficult decisions in the face of all kinds of conflicts?’” Since the Stokes era, upward mobility has declined. College is more crucial but less affordable. America is much, much wealthier—but far less of that wealth goes to regular families. Stokes supported public jobs, higher wages, extensive federal support to cities, deep public investments to clean up the environmental crises of the times, aggressive action to reduce discrimination and inequality, and infrastructure investments that supported people who lived and worked in the city. He took on corporate and union elites, fought projects that would carry resources out of cities, interpreted his role broadly, and favored a bold agenda over a safe one. Today, Stokes would want a higher federal and state minimum wage (the federal one peaked during his term), federal resources for struggling cities, and big projects to employ people while tackling challenges like education, pollution, lead abatement, and abandoned homes. Peery thinks he would demand a permanent ongoing fund for neighborhoods before any money went to sports facilities, such as the Quicken Loans Arena. He would want more resources and better outcomes for the schools, Miller said. Then again, those were different times. Columnist Roldo Bartimole, who was critical of Cleveland: NOW! as insufficiently radical at the time, admitted, “He had a lot of vision, but the times allowed for greater vision.”101 In the late 1960s, outrage seemed like it might be channeled to solve America’s major problems. Safety nets, public investments, and the environmental and civil rights movements did indeed solve many challenges. Carl Stokes was, according to Bartimole, anti-corporate, at least sometimes, and that helped him wrest victories for poor and working people. Today, few American politicians would want to be labeled anti-corporate. Letting moneyed interests call the shots doomed the dreams of Stokes and leaders like him and made it so that the economy could nearly double in size while workers just treaded water. The Civil Rights Movement, the War on Poverty, and leaders like Stokes eliminated the problem Peery identified of black college graduates having to be waiters. These forces opened opportunities and reduced discrimination so many people of color could get jobs that matched their skills and training. But the economy later undermined that progress. As Peery said ruefully: “What we never dreamed was that in 2017, white college graduates would have to work as waiters.” But Stokes wouldn’t want to end on that note.
Interview with Roldo Bartimole, July 18, 2017.
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Conclusion: A Refillable Glass Fifty years ago, in a viciously segregated and much less wealthy America, in a struggling, mostly-white city, with a river polluted enough to catch on fire and an untouchable lake, voters put their trust in a visionary black man. During his short time in office, he helped enact changes that cleaned America’s waterways, rid Cleveland of its rat infestation, integrated workplaces where black workers had never before been permitted, and employed many thousands of formerly unemployed Clevelanders. His creativity and actions helped solve some problems of that era, but Stokes’s time in office was short, and he did not have the power to anticipate and preempt the problems that would come with flight of capital and jobs, unthinkable inequality, growth that only accrued to the top, and massive new environmental challenges. As the preceding pages have detailed, these factors and others contributed to a Cleveland of 2017 that is still wrestling with many of the same challenges as Stokes’s Cleveland of 1967. Yet just as he crafted a vision for his future, the writers of this report look at the progress that has been made and the momentum of the present to suggest solutions to the city’s most pressing issues as we move forward.
Housing Ensuring the equitable revitalization of inner-city neighborhoods as Cleveland’s urban core redevelopment continues. To date, no city has succeeded at integrating existing tenured residents into revitalization patterns that most commonly arise from outside investment and people coming into a given area. One underused strategy is the development of community land trusts in disinvested areas that are in the path of redevelopment. These land trusts are held by nonprofit, community-based organizations and are designed to ensure community stewardship of land.
Health Care One of the most pressing issues going forward is how to finance public health strategies, which are as woefully underfinanced today as when Carl Stokes served as mayor. One strategy would be to work with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Ohio Department of Medicaid, Cuyahoga County Board of Health, and the Cleveland Department of Public Health to develop a Medicaid waiver allowing Medicaid funding to be used to finance increased investments in evidence-based public health strategies that address health issues like smoking, gun violence, HIV/AIDS, infant mortality, and lead poisoning. Equally important, these efforts should guarantee that African-American communities and providers contribute to decision-making and help design the waiver. These strategies, once implemented, can improve overall health, increase life expectancy, and, ultimately, reduce Medicaid expenditures over time.
Public Safety The disproportionate, often unnecessary, and all too frequent deadly police-initiated stops of African Americans and other minorities of color is one of the most persistent and critical public policy issues confronting our nation. And given the Trump administration’s stated opposition to using federal intervention to reform local police agencies, the impetus to transform policing and its historically
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adversarial relationship with African Americans and other minority communities must be pursued with greater urgency at the state and local levels. Ohio leads the nation in police agencies that have come under federal consent decree with five; this offers other law enforcement agencies in the state case studies to learn from as well as the latest innovations in constitutional policing policies and practices to be replicated. In addition, the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board, appointed by Governor John Kasich in the wake of the 2014 John Crawford III and Tamir Rice shootings, established statewide policing standards to help enhance community-police relations and public safety.102 This state certification process affords law enforcement agencies across the state another means of reassuring the communities they serve of their agency’s commitment and dedication to the principles of just, equitable, and constitutional policing regardless of one’s race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or zip code. They also provide communities with minimum standards by which they can engage and hold local law enforcement and public officials accountable.
Education As a city and a region, we must do a better job of connecting the dots of societal challenges, such as transience, trauma, health disparities, and poverty, which impede academic progress and success. We must view and understand school performance within the context of larger societal issues, as improving the “academic infrastructure” is not enough to meet the array of needs to help Cleveland’s students successfully matriculate. This will require bold governmental policies and strategic investments by the private sector and the community at large that meet students where they are and establish short-term and long-term outcomes that are ambitious, yet achievable.
Jobs Mayor Stokes believed in creating jobs that improved our communities, guaranteeing that African Americans could get jobs and ensuring that families could meet their basic needs through the jobs they got. We continue to have too much inequality, too much poverty, and too few jobs, particularly for the black community. Today, we should pursue Mayor Stokes’s goals by making deep federal and state investments to fund infrastructure repair, childcare, pre-K, transit, green energy, and energy efficiency. These would create jobs now while positioning our communities, families, and planet for a better tomorrow. At the same time, we should raise the minimum wage and encourage unionization so that working people can support their families. Finally, we must make sure that the employees working in public jobs represent their communities in racial, ethnic, and gender composition and that the private sector is required to hire and promote people of color. What Carl Stokes demonstrated 50 years ago was that a brilliant, optimistic, and influential leader, backed by movements, could take a machete to the problems of 1967 and make meaningful progress. That legacy means that in 2017 we can do the same. The glass is not half-empty. The glass may not be half-full. But the glass is refillable.
Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board, http://www.ocjs.ohio.gov/ohiocollaborative/.
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Stokes Policy and Leadership Committee Erika Bell Michael Bennett Greg Brown Jejuna Brown Tami Caplan Jessica Cohen John Corlett Andrew Cox Marianne Crosley Ronnie Dunn Kyle D. Fee Helen Forbes Fields Alaina Foster Rini Grover Jensen Hanna Amy Hanauer Brian Johnson, Ph.D. Eric Johnson Eddy Kraus Dennis Lafferty Daryl Laisure Dyann Lynch Ronna McNair Randell McShepard Karen Miller, Ed.D. Augie Napoli Lauren Onkey, Ph.D. Lowell Perry Jr. Richey Piiparinen Claire Rosacco Michael Schoop, Ph.D. Don Slocum Natoya Walker-Minor Helen Williams, Ph.D.
Special thanks are extended to the following individuals who provided important insights that shaped and enhanced this document. Loren Anthes Roldo Bartimole Mark Cassell John Grabowski, Ph.D. Colin Gordon Cathi Hanauer Edgar Jackson, M.D. Alex Johnson, Ph.D. Roslyn Kakeal Norm Krumholz Matthew Martinez Stanley Miller Richard Peery Kara Porter Sabrina Roberts Zach Schiller Michael Schoop, Ph.D. Helen Williams, Ph.D.
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Thank you to students in the Mandel Scholars Academy, a part of Cuyahoga Community College’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Humanities Center. Matthew Chasney Evan Chmura Rebecca Groth Alice Legg Adekunle Popoola Asajile Mwaipyana
Community Partners The following organizations and individuals contributed to the yearlong, community-wide commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the election of Carl B. Stokes. Neighborhood Leadership Institute
Baseball Heritage Museum
Cuyahoga Community College’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Humanities Center
Bernie Moreno Companies
Cuyahoga County Executive
Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office
Cuyahoga County Public Library
Case Western Reserve University
Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority
Policy Matters Ohio
The Center for Community Solutions
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Distinguished Gentlemen of Spoken Word
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Burten, Bell, Carr Development Inc.
The City Club of Cleveland The City of Cleveland Cleveland Airport System Cleveland Branch NAACP Cleveland Cavaliers Cleveland City Council Cleveland Clinic The Cleveland Foundation Cleveland International Film Festival Cleveland Leadership Center Cleveland Metropolitan School District Cleveland Museum of Art The Cleveland Orchestra Cleveland Play House Cleveland Public Library Cleveland Public Theatre Cleveland State University Commission on Economic Inclusion Cuyahoga Arts & Culture Cuyahoga Community College
Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio Downtown Cleveland Alliance Esperanza Inc. Fifth Third Bank Facing History and Ourselves The George Gund Foundation Greater Cleveland Partnership Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority The Hispanic Roundtable Historic Gateway Neighborhood Corporation ideastream Jewish Federation of Cleveland John Carroll University Karamu House KeyBank Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage Medical Mutual of Ohio The MetroHealth System MOCA Cleveland MVP Plastics, Inc.
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Northeast Ohio Medical University PNC
The Presidents’ Council
RPM International Inc. Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland Spanish American Committee Teaching Cleveland United Way of Greater Cleveland University Circle Inc. University Hospitals Urban League of Greater Cleveland Western Reserve Historical Society Western Reserve Land Conservancy WKYC-TV The Word Church YWCA Greater Cleveland Youth Opportunities Unlimited Zin Technologies, Inc.
Armond D. Budish, County Executive The Rev. Dr. E. Theophilus Caviness George L. Forbes Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge Frank G. Jackson, Mayor Betty T. Pinkney Sen. George V. Voinovich*
David T. Abbott Craig Arnold Richard A. Chiricosta Paul Clark Christopher M. Connor Dr. Delos “Toby” Cosgrove Carole F. Hoover
Milton Maltz Beth E. Mooney Fred Nance The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr. Albert B. Ratner Ronald B. Richard Thomas F. Zenty
Funders THE GEORGE GUND FOUNDATION
Warren Anderson and Family • Burton D. Morgan Foundation • Cleveland Clinic • Cleveland State University Coleman Spohn Corporation • Eaton • Greater Cleveland Partnership • The Gries Family Foundation The MetroHealth System • Minute Men Incorporated • Northeast Ohio Medical University RPM International Inc. • University Hospitals • ZIN Technologies, Inc.
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Fifty years ago, Cleveland marked one of its most notable historical developments—the election of Carl Stokes as the first African-American...
Published on Nov 3, 2017
Fifty years ago, Cleveland marked one of its most notable historical developments—the election of Carl Stokes as the first African-American...