Friday, January 10, 2014

City Club speaker to address Racial Change in America at Friday forum

Native Clevelander Steve Phillips helping to pioneer national political change

Notwithstanding its status as the first American city to elect a black mayor, Cleveland remains a racial backwater when it comes to adjusting to the new demographics shaping the political and economic realities that are remaking much of the country and the world. We failed to seize the moment offered by Carl Stokes’ 1967 election to create a new polity for our community, and quickly fell back into old stylized habits of fighting lose-lose battles over turf without recognizing how nutrient-deficient the whole game had become.

Too often our best and brightest have grown up and gone away to find greener pastures where the public and private battles at least reflect the changes that have occurred in America and beyond since World War II.

One of those best and brightest, Steve Phillips, returns home to the City Club today, to talk about how "Brown is the New White: America's Racial Transformation and the Future of U.S. Politics".

A lawyer, philanthropist and political activist who splits his time between San Francisco and Washington, DC, Phillips grew up in Cleveland Heights, graduating from Hawken School in 1982. Considered a pioneer in political innovation, Phillips created the country’s first Super PAC in 2007, and he is the founder and chairman of PAC+, a social justice political network that was the first national group to back Cory Booker’s successful US Senate campaign and the Texas gubernatorial candidacy of Wendy Davis.

In a conversation earlier this week with The Real Deal, Phillips noted that as a matter of fact “this country has been organized around the interests of white people”. How the interests of a new majority find leverage in new public policies will say much about the future of this country.

Greater Clevelanders of all hues would be wise to pay careful attention and take notes on the insights of this native son.

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