Initiative honors 50th anniversary of Carl Stokes’ historic election as Cleveland mayor
CLEVELAND — Dozens of community events have already been scheduled for 2017 as part of a yearlong commemoration marking the 50th anniversary of Carl Stokes’ historic election as mayor of Cleveland.
The initiative honors Mayor Stokes and his brother, Congressman Louis Stokes, and seeks to build on their legacy of advocacy and action by inspiring a new generation of Northeast Ohio leaders.
The commemoration will address a wide spectrum of issues through various activities during the year. An ever-expanding calendar of events for Stokes: Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future can be found at www.stokes50cle.com.
Signature events include:
- Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson discussing how Mayor Stokes and Congressman Stokes set the framework for the city’s long-term viability. “In Their Footsteps” will be held Jan. 25 at the Eastern Campus of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®).
- A citywide “Day of Service” project in April focused on local military veterans. Mayor Stokes and Congressman Stokes both served in the U.S. Army.
- A June performance at Playhouse Square’s Allen Theatre celebrating the achievements of Mayor Stokes using his speeches and a musical score. “Believe in Cleveland” will convey the aspirations of Stokes amidst the tempestuous backdrop of the time period.
- The November opening of a permanent exhibit at the Western Reserve Historical Society’s Cleveland History Center featuring pictures, oral histories and interactive displays that examine the legacy of the Stokes brothers.
In addition, to honor the leadership legacy of Mayor Stokes and Congressman Stokes, policy forums will take place throughout the year to plot a future course in Cleveland that continues to address housing, education, health care, public safety and the economy.
The effort, which is a collaboration between eight Northeast Ohio organizations, will culminate with policy and leadership development recommendations unveiled in October during an event at The City Club of Cleveland.
“Mayor Stokes and Congressman Stokes changed the course of the city’s history,” said Lauren Onkey, chair and dean of Tri-C’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Humanities Center. “In looking back at their accomplishments, we want to look forward. Our goal for this community-wide commemoration is for their work to serve as a catalyst to develop new leaders and ideas for Cleveland’s future.”
Carl Stokes overturned racial barriers in 1967, becoming the first African American to be elected mayor of a major American city. He served two terms while advancing an agenda that still serves as a foundation for Cleveland.
His brother Louis turned to politics after making a profound impact on the civil rights movement as a lawyer. He won election as Ohio’s first African-American congressman in 1968 and served 30 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Stokes commemoration is being led by Tri-C’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Humanities Center, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland Foundation, Greater Cleveland Partnership, Commission on Economic Inclusion and The City Club of Cleveland.
In total, the project includes more than 60 community partners.
Stokes: Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future is supported by gifts from many individuals and organizations. More than 20 highly prominent community, government and business leaders chair the initiative.
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