Friday, January 25, 2013

“Drug War” Comes to East Cleveland; NAACP’s Hilton Smith; Emerging Leaders on Horizon

Twice within the past fortnight I have written about the efforts of the Northeast Ohio Alliance for Hope [NOAH] to bring attention to critical problems that make most of us throw up our hands and turn our heads: the epidemic incarceration of black men and municipal finance.

Dred Scott
There’s a part of me that wonders about the relationship between these themes of our injustice system and muni finance, as represented by the City of East Cleveland: to what extent did the Cleveland police officers who chased Timothy Ray Russell and Malissa Williams into that broke city and killed them in gangland fashion feel impunity to do so because of a subliminal concurrence with the sentiments so indelibly expressed in the infamous words of Chief Justice Roger Taney in Dred Scott, that they echo in the coarse paraphraseEast Cleveland had no laws that white police officers were bound to respect”?

Tomorrow afternoon NOAH will present the Cleveland-area premiere of “The House I Live In”, the top documentary at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The powerful film questions why the United States has become the world’s leading jailer of its own people.

Danny Glover, John Legend, Brad Pitt, and Russell Simmons were executive producers of the film.

The special screening will be Saturday, January 26, at the East Cleveland Library, 14101 Euclid Ave. Admission is free and doors open at 12:45 PM. The film will start at 1:30 PM. A moderated discussion will follow the screening.

This coming Monday, NOAH will host a forum on East Cleveland’s budget and budget process. Last month the city was recently returned a state of fiscal emergency by State Auditor David Yost, where it has spent most of the past quarter century.

The forum will be held Monday, January 29 from 6:30-8:30 PM at New Covenant Lutheran Church, 1424 Hayden Avenue, East Cleveland OH 44112.

Last week a group of East Cleveland citizens organized by NOAH presented a letter jointly addressed to the mayor and city council president inviting them to the forum. While Mayor Gary Norton accepted immediately, NOAH’s executive director told us in an email that every council member has cited “other obligations” precluding their attendance at the forum.

Why aren’t our most-publicized local civil rights organizations — the Cleveland NAACP and increasingly, the local Southern Christian Leadership Conference — organizing these kinds of events in the community? Perhaps some answers will emerge at either or both of two events scheduled for next weekend.

Next Friday, Feb. 1, the newly installed Cleveland NAACP president, Rev. Hilton O. Smith, will speak at the City Club of Cleveland. His talk will be broadcast live on WCPN 90.3FM at 12:30PM and will be shown on television on WVIZ/PBS on Sunday beginning at 10AM. The taped telecast will include the traditional City Club Q and A from one of the city’s most engaged audiences.

Of course, you may want to have your resident or neighboring teenager TIVO that Sunday telecast so that you will be free to attend a forum that morning at First Unitarian Church of Shaker Heights.

For the past several years First Unitarian has been sponsoring “discussions that matter” community forums on Sunday mornings from 9:30 until 10:45 in their Fellowship Hall, 21600 Shaker Boulevard, Shaker Heights OH 44122.

On Sunday, February 3 the panelists at this “come one come all” event will comprise a representative sample of the next generation of Greater Cleveland leadership. Businessman Clint Bradley, banker Michael Jeans, United Black Fund executive director Cecil Lipscomb, and political organizer and civic activist Gigi Traore will share their ideas on where we are, where we need to go, and how we might get there. Real Deal publisher Richard T. Andrews will moderate.

Clint Bradley
Gigi Traore

Cecil Lipscomb
Michael T. Jeans

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