Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Now is the time

The need for the emergence of new forms of black civic leadership in Cleveland has been demonstrated yet again by the continuing implosion of the local NAACP chapter.

In a show of staggering incompetence, fueled by the illusory pursuit of “little p” personal power and the continued abandonment of principle, the reigning potentates failed to follow their own rules in conducting the biannual election of officers, forcing the national office to call a time out.

Many people ask, with good reason, why this desiccated mess of a once powerful civil rights organization is worthy of any note when decade after decade it has engaged in self-dealing, credibility-destroying ways to render itself irrelevant?

Clearly, the Cleveland NAACP no longer resembles the mid-20th century juggernaut that had 10,000 dues-paying members. Still, it stands in the gap, like an abandoned fort, between the tens of thousands of ordinary black people just trying to get through the month, the week, and sometimes the day, and those whose control of institutions — state offices, the legislature, the public safety and criminal justice systems, the schools and workplaces — allow them to ignore and devalue black life.

The poster event for black impotence is the impunity with which more than 100 Cleveland police officers disregarded departmental rules and procedures to chase two people across town at high speeds and when the prey was cornered, 13 police fired 137 bullets into one car, killing its two unarmed occupants.

The community response to this outrageous police misconduct has been muted. To some extent this can be attributed to the fact that Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson has adopted his usual calm stance. But we are approaching the second anniversary of “The Chase” and who in our community is monitoring the monitors in the Jackson administration?

The lack of effective organizational leadership is manifest in other areas as well. We may be at a moment when self-interest on the part of general contractors, property owners, and labor unions offer opportunities for real gains for black contractors, laborers, and neighborhoods. Some black business and leaders — Dominic Ozanne, for one, but there are others, including Natoya Walker-Minor of the Jackson administration — have helped drive a process where sizable business projects can be impacted by the views and wishes of area residents. But there is too often no community organization ready to sit down with affected parties to negotiate a Community Benefits Agreement even when the framework is already in place.

This is not to say that there are no effective black organizations or agencies here. There are scores, including the Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation; Delta Sigma Theta; Sigma Pi Phi [the Boule]; Burten, Bell, Carr Development Inc.; to name but a few. But there is not one with the portfolio, the history, or the name to eclipse the NAACP.

If the NAACP were a public school, it would be ripe for reconstitution. Throw out all the officers and start anew. Try and keep the executive director, Sheila Wright. She is bright, passionate, innovative, and young. But she hasn’t been paid in five months, and we know what happens to romance when there is no finance.

Cleveland’s establishment has coasted on the inclusion tip for a very long time. One might say that coasting parallels the weakness of the local NAACP. The old boy network that runs this community needs to be broken up before it consigns us to eternal mediocrity. Black Cleveland needs to be in the vanguard of the modernization of our political, economic and social structures. That process has to begin at home, and it ought to begin with a thorough housecleaning at the NAACP.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Re: God Loves Cleveland

Taken shortly after LeBron James announced his return to the Cavaliers — The Real Deal Press      

This is bonus Real Deal coverage: a link to a lengthy online article on the genius of LeBron James — not just as a basketball player — and a unique take on why he’s coming back to Cleveland. It should have special value for Michael Jordan fans, Cavs’ fans, basketball purists and social psychologists.

Written by sportswriter Bill Simmons, the piece takes awhile to really zero in on LeBron, but when it does …

Check it out here.

Love Stories: The Cavs, Karamu, and Cameo

My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio. I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. — LeBron James

I was unaware until I had breakfast yesterday with an old friend that Cleveland today is the occasion of the 8th annual MultiMusicFest. The old school theme of tonight’s 7PM concert at the State Theatre in Playhouse Square — a musical tribute to Gerald and Sean Levert featuring the R&B funk band Cameo and hosted by actress and comedienne Kym Whitley — seems in total resonance with yesterday’s mega-announcement that LeBron James is returning to the Cavaliers and will spend the balance of his career working to bring multiple NBA titles to Northeast Ohio.[1]

• • •
My breakfast, by the way, was with my longtime friend and Cleveland native, John P. Kellogg. A former recording artist with Cameo and entertainment lawyer for both Gerald and Sean Levert, Kellogg is now assistant chair of the Music Business Management Department at the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Kellogg is also author of the best-selling book, Take Care of Your Music Business: Taking the Legal and Business Aspects You Need to Know to 3.0, now its second edition. You can find details about the book and his free online course at

Kellogg grew up in Cleveland’s Fairfax community which his father, John W. Kellogg, served many years with distinction as councilman before moving on to become general counsel for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. The senior Kellogg would be an anomaly today, a black Republican officeholder who put community service before partisan or personal interests. And phrasing it that way is not meant to give a pass to any current elected officials who may have a different political persuasion. Party labels are just that — labels. When it comes to politics, one must always look beyond the label and examine the contents.

• • •
Speaking of labels, can you imagine Romeo and Juliet as Africans? Well you won’t have to if you simply check out Karamu House’s new summer theater program, “ Classics in the Lot!”

Karamu, the venerable settlement house and community theater, is inaugurating an annual outdoor summer series of classic stage productions next weekend with Shakespeare's classic love story "Romeo and Juliet". Karamu playwright in residence Michael Oatman’s adaptation of the tale of star-crossed lovers is set in Africa.

His provocative version, which he will direct, features recent Karamu House Hall of Fame Rising Star Kyle Carthens (Romeo) and Shambrion Treadwell-Obama (Juliet) in the lead roles.

This BYOC [Bring You Own Chair] production will run Saturday and Sunday the next two weekends [July 19-20 and July 26-27] starting at 6PM in the Karamu House parking lot, 2355 East 89 Street at Quincy Ave. Tickets are $5. For more info, call 216-795-7077 or visit

[1] I don’t know how else one could reasonably interpret James’ first-person as-told-to account. He is here until he retires, and thereafter. His goals: to bring an NBA title to Cleveland, to win multiple titles here, and to make Northeast Ohio a better place.

The entire statement was masterfully done and is worth multiple readings. In its power and grace, it’s as elegant, direct, and forceful as any of his signature throw-downs.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The "King" is back!

Ten minutes after we heard the news, we found Cleveland's version of Paul Revere cycling towards Public Square with this sign.

It's been a big week for the city.

We'll say more later but for now I'm just going to enjoy the most pleasant strains of the jazz trio now playing in the Eastman Reading Garden at the Cleveland Public Library.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Business Tuesday

The big news in our region today was of course the announcement that the 2016 Republican Convention will be held in Cleveland. Tentative start dates are reportedly either June 27 or July 18, depending — get this! — on whether Quicken Loans Arena will be needed as a site for the NBA Finals. That might seem ludicrous except for the possibility, no longer entirely incredible that free agent LeBron James might return home as the prodigal son.

IF he did, well, then we would have to consider that in his first eleven years, his teams have made the NBA Finals five times. So, just maybe the Repubs will have to wait until July to have the run of the Q.

Meanwhile, the question of the day is who will step forward to negotiate one of those Community Benefit Agreements with the Republican National Committee?

We of course will have much more to say about the Republican Convention but for now, we simply offer our congratulations to Mayor Jackson, County Executive FitzGerald, and those folk who will be ponying up some $65 million or so to make this happen.

PC Scholar Graduation Reception canceled

We reported in last week’s Nonprofit Thursday post that The Presidents’ Council reception for this year’s graduates of its PC Scholars program would be held this Thursday, July 10.

This event has been canceled for the best of reasons: the honorees are so busy this summer with internships, gainful summer employment and the like, that it seems about half of them are unable to attend the planned festivities in their honor.

We are pleased to share the roster of 2014 PC Scholar Graduates below. Their names are followed by the schools they will enter this fall and their high schools. Each will receive a scholarship from the program once their fall schedules have been certified.

2014 PC Scholar Graduates

Ronisha Buckhanon, University of Akron, Collinwood HS

Elexsus Collins, Cuyahoga Community College, Max Hayes HS

Zalina Harp, Cuyahoga Community College, James Ford Rhodes HS

Diva Jones, University of Akron, John Adams HS

Tatiana Meadows, Cleveland State University, John F. Kennedy HS

Joshua Minor, Cuyahoga Community College, New Tech East HS

Danielle Quarles, Cuyahoga Community College, John Hay A & D HS

Erica Vanzant, Sierra Nevada College, Cleveland School of the Arts

Alexis Wiggins, United States Air Force, John Hay A & D HS

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Nonprofit Thursday Report: NBMBAA, Diversity Center, Presidents Council Foundation

Cleveland National Black MBA Association Summer Mix set for July 10

Edgewater Park event scheduled for 5:30PM-8:30PM  

The National Black MBA Association Cleveland Chapter is encouraging young professionals to join in next week’s Engage! Cleveland's 5th annual Summer MIX. This is an opportunity to network with Cleveland's YP community in a relaxed environment while enjoying one of Cleveland's best assets — our waterfront. This is an excellent opportunity to check out the upgrades to Edgewater Park, a place some many of us have never even visited. 

The $10 registration includes appetizers and entrance to the networking pavilion.  Click here to register. 

• • •

PC Scholars Graduation & Scholarship Reception set for July 10 at Tri-C Metro

Each fall, the Presidents’ Council Foundation works with high school guidance counselors in the Cleveland area to select a group of sophomores with GPAs in the 2.5 – 3.0 range, and who have both a strong desire for achievement and a career interest in business, construction, entrepreneurship, financial services, healthcare, law or manufacturing and a strong desire for achievement.

The students meet twice a month for three hours on Saturdays throughout the school year and into the summer for three years.

This year’s graduating crop of PC scholars will be saluted on July 10 at the Cuyahoga Community College’s Metro Campus for their academic and career preparation, and their leadership and life skills development. The program begins at 5:30PM and the public is invited.

• • •

Free Professional Development Seminar is Cultural Competence Learning Opportunity

Diversity Center-MetroHealth collaboration designed for the healthcare and public safety communities

The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio, in partnership with MetroHealth System and The Collection Auto Group, is offering an LGBTQ-focused seminar in anticipation of the Gay Games being held in Cleveland next month.

The seminar is designed to assist healthcare and public safety professionals understand the impact this important aspect of identity has and to embrace the approach of respect for diversity and inclusion. Sponsors hope that attendees will be better prepared to address unconscious bias and inequities toward the LGBTQ community.

The free seminar will be Tuesday, July 29, from 8:30AM-11:30AM in MetroHealth’s Scott Auditorium, 2500 MetroHealth Drive, Cleveland, 44109.

The registration deadline is noon on Friday, July 25. To download a registration form, visit or call 216.752.3000.

Guest speakers and panelists will include MetroHealth president and CEO Dr. Akram Boutros; Dr. Henry Ng of MetroHealth System & Pride Clinic; Phyllis Harris, Director, LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland; Jacob Nash, TransOhio; Rachael Nolan, National Resource Center for LGBTQ Aging; and transgender activist Zoe Lapin.

CEUs for LSW, LISW, LPC, and LPCC will be available [$25.]

• • •

The Presidents’ Council Foundation is holding its Sixth Annual Golf Outing on Monday, August 18 at the Barrington Country Club in Aurora. Registration is available online here or by calling 216.771.8702.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

New Publication, New Schedule, New event for Small Business Owners

Faithful readers have perhaps wondered where The Real Deal has gone, given that our last post was March 12.

Short answer: The Real Deal blog went on an unannounced sabbatical to prepare for the emergence of The Real Deal Press, a free monthly tabloid newspaper that made its debut in Cuyahoga County in early April.  More than 10,000 copies of each issue are distributed to over 200 locations in Greater Cleveland. The July issue hit the streets last week.

The mission of The Real Deal Press is to attract, articulate, and amplify civic intelligence and community good will to our coverage area and beyond. The* principal coverage area is comprised of those communities that make up the "BMW" school districts: Bedford, Bedford Heights, Highland Hills, Maple Heights, North Randall, Oakwood Village, and Warrensville Heights. Additionally, the Real Deal Press provides coverage of business, health, education, nonprofit, and civic affairs of particular interest or importance to our readership throughout Northeast Ohio.

It was always our intent to return to blogging on some schedule and in some fashion that would complement The Real Deal Press. Today is the day we do so. Many of you have become familiar with our Nonprofit Thursday posts. In that spirit, we offer Business Tuesday, a feature that will focus primarily on items of interest to minority business enterprises and other small businesses in northeast Ohio.

Most successful businesses, regardless of size, learn how to plan. To paraphrase a popular saying goes, those who fail to plan are planning to fail. This of course applies to a range of business activities, from financial projections to marketing to scheduling.

Small businesses are known for being nimble, and it is in that regard that we share this last-minute news of an event set for today that we just learned about. It intrigues us enough that we plan to attend.

The event, a Workshop On How To Use Facebook To Grow Your Small Business, will be held Tuesday, July 2, at Corporate College East, 4400 Richmond Rd, Warrensville Heights, OH 44128. Representatives from FB will conduct the presentation, which will run from 11:30AM-1PM.

The event is free. Register here or onsite beginning at 11AM.

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge of Warrensville Heights will offer welcoming remarks.

Nonprofit Thursdays will resume this week.

* Bedford, Maple Heights, and Warrensville Heights.

* Bedford, Maple Heights, and Warrensville Heights.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


The Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation annual meeting scheduled for late this afternoon has been POSTPONED and rescheduled for March 26.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

NONPROFIT THURSDAY REPORT: Black Males, "the Negro Woman", Christians and Democrats

This is the first of what may turn out to be three Nonprofit Thursday posts today. Here we want to call attention to several events taking place this evening, any of which you might want to take in on your way home from work, or to make the subject of an evening excursion in celebration of the impending heat wave.

Post two will offer some observations on the intriguing Hank Willis Thomas exhibit that closes this weekend at the Cleveland Museum of Art after a near five-month run.

And then, assuming there is time, we will offer more timely notes on some upcoming events.

For now, we just learned today of the third and final discussion in the Blueprint Roundtable discussion, a series of events thematically related to the Hank Willis Thomas exhibit. Tonight’s program will be at Friendly Inn Settlement House, 2386 Unwin Road.

The event flier describes this evening’s event as a panel discussion of established and emerging black male leaders from the Central neighborhood and the Cleveland community about what it means to be an African American male today. One goal of the conversation is to break down boundaries between generations.

A special guest panelist on tonight’s program is star actor Bill Cobb, a Central native and Karamu alumnus.

Tonight’s panelists also include Cordell Arellano, Central resident and Promise Ambassador; Jerome Baker, founder, Men of Central; East Tech student Edgar Hoyle; Tri-C student and Promise Ambassador Nathaniel Johnson; Donald Jolly, academic superintendent, Cleveland public schools; Gerald Leslie, principal of Marion-Sterling School; Prester Pickett, coordinator of the Howard A. Mims African American Student Center at Cleveland State University; Amir El Hajj Khalid Samad, CEO of Peace in the Hood; Michael L. Walker, executive director of Partnership for A Safer Cleveland; and Peter Whitt, president of Enlightenment Consulting Group.

Call the panel moderator, Neal Hodges at 216.774.9570 and let him know you are coming.
• • •
Moving east to University Circle, a talk will be starting soon with the captivating title, “An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman”: Black Women Communists of the Old Left and Critical Perspectives on Global Capitalism.

This event starts at 4:30PM on the campus of Case Western Reserve University in Clark Hall, Room 309, 11130 Bellflower Rd.

Erik S. McDuffie, Ph.D., associate professor of African American Studies at the University of Illinois, will be speaking about how the experiences of black women in the US Communist Party during the first half of the 20th century can provide important lessons for diagnosing current social injustices. The event is co-sponsored by Case’s Social Justice Institute.
• • •
Still in University Circle, and probably a less intense experience, is tonight’s Network Night, a monthly gathering where seemingly whatever interests you will find an audience. This event takes place from 6-8PM on the first Thursday of the month at University Circle Methodist Church, 1919 East 107 St. on the corner of Chester Ave.
You can also head uphill from the Circle to Shaker Square where the Cleveland Realtists Association is hosting Real Estate Night at the new Zanzibar location, 13225 Shaker Square. This event, from 6:30PM until nine, will showcase the real estate mogul, Jay “Mr. Real Estate” Morrison.
We hate to put the Christians last, but hopefully they will forgive us, especially as they have two events. The Christian Business League is hosting a business networking reception from 6:30-8PM tonight at JumpStart, 6701 Carnegie Ave.

The League will also host its quarterly Faith and Finance breakfast tomorrow at 7:30AM at Manor Party Center, 24111 Rockwell Dr., Euclid. The speaker will be Dr. Derrick Harkins, director of outreach for the Democratic National Committee.

This is the only event with a charge: $15. All are open to the public. If you attend any of these events, tell them you read about it in The Real Deal.