Interview With Louis Stokes Former U. S. Congressman from 1969 – 1999 (Video)


1972 House of Rep. Photo

Louis Stokes, brother of Carl Stokes, was a congressman in the United States House of Representatives from 1969 – 1999. During his time in office, Stokes served on numerous committees including the House Select Committee on Assassinations, the Ethics Committee, and the House Intelligence Committee. He was interviewed for Teaching Cleveland Digital at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage on January 20, 2014 to celebrate Martin Luther King day. This is a five-part interview with Mr. Stokes. Cameras by Jerry Mann and Meagan Lawton, Edited by Meagan Lawton, Interviewed by Brent Larkin.

Part one is here

Part two is here

Part three is here

Part four is here

Part five is here


© 2014 Jerry Mann and Teaching Cleveland Digital.

Interview With Senator George Voinovich, Cleveland Mayor from 1980 thru 1989 (video)


Senator George Voinovich was Mayor of Cleveland from 1980-1989, Ohio Governor from 1991-1998, and a U.S. Senator from 1999-2011. He was interviewed by Brent Larkin for Teaching Cleveland Digital on Nov 12, 2013. Cameras by Jerry Mann and Meagan Lawton, Edited by Jerry Mann. © 2013 Jerry Mann and Teaching Cleveland Digital.

The first segment is here

The second segment is here

The third segment is here


© 2013 Jerry Mann and Teaching Cleveland Digital.


The Michael R White Interview (video)

mike-white-1989   white-celebrates-gateway  white_michael_1978

Part One Link is Here

Part Two Link is Here

Part Three Link is here

Part Four is here

Part Five is here

Michael R. White was Mayor of Cleveland from 1990-2002. He was interviewed for Teaching Cleveland Digital on July 24, 2013. Cameras by Jerry Mann and Meagan Lawton, Edited by Jerry Mann, Interviewed by Michael Baron. © 2013 Jerry Mann and Teaching Cleveland Digital.

From Wikipedia:

White, who grew up in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood, began his political career early on during his college years at Ohio State University, when he protested against the discriminatory policies of the Columbus public bus system and was subsequently arrested. White then ran the following year for Student Union President and won, becoming the college’s first black student body leader. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1973 and a Master of Public Administration degree in 1974.

After college, White returned to Cleveland. He served on Cleveland City Council as an administrative assistant from 1976 to 1977 and later served as city councilman from the Glenville area from 1978 to 1984. During his time in city council, White became a prominent protégé of councilman George L. Forbes. White then represented the area’s 21st District in the Ohio Senate, serving as a Democratic assistant minority whip.

In 1989, White entered the heavily-contested race for mayor of Cleveland, along with several other notable candidates including Forbes, Ralph J. Perk Jr. (the son of former Cleveland mayor, Ralph J. Perk), Benny Bonanno (Clerk of the Cleveland Municipal Court), and Tim Hagan (Cuyahoga County commissioner). Out of all the candidates Forbes and White made it to the general election. It was the first time two Black candidates would emerge as the number one and two contenders in a primary election in Cleveland history.

In Cleveland, incumbent Mike White won re-election against council president George Forbes, who ran as the candidate of black power and the public sector unions. Angering the unions by eliminating some of the city’s exotic work rules, White presented himself as pro-business, pro-police and an effective manager above all, arguing that “jobs were the cure for the ‘addiction to the mailbox,'” referring to welfare checks. [1]

White ended up winning the race receiving 81 percent of the vote in predominantly white wards and 30 percent in the predominantly black wards.

© 2013 Jerry Mann and Teaching Cleveland Digital.


Teaching Cleveland Digital Media by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Newton D. Baker – The Civil Warrior (documentary)

The link is here

A Teaching Cleveland Documentary. Camera, production and editing by Jeremy Borison. Special thanks to Dr. John J. Grabowski, Tom Suddes, Greg Deegan and Brent Larkin. Also to the Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland State University Special Collections and the Western Reserve Historical Society.


The Man, the Strategy and the Seismic Shift by Brent Larkin

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer on the 40th Anniversary of Carl Stokes election as mayor of Cleveland.

The link is here

The man, the strategy and the seismic shift

Brent Larkin

Plain Dealer Reporter

By midnight, all seemed lost. And the mood inside Carl B. Stokes’ downtown headquarters had turned decidedly gloomy.

Destiny was about to deny Stokes what he wanted most to be the first black elected mayor of a major American city.

With 70 percent of the vote counted, Republican Seth Taft had built what seemed an insurmountable lead. As Election Day turned to Wednesday, Taft had pulled in front by 20,000 votes.

It seemed that Stokes, a 40-year-old state representative who had handily defeated incumbent Mayor Ralph Locher in the Democratic primary, would lose the general election to a Republican in a city with a minuscule Republican population.

Cleveland Press reporter Dick Feagler would write that women wept during this tense, trying period when defeat seemed certain.

A Dixieland band played ‘S’Wonderful,’ but it wasn’t, described Feagler, adding that for four hours it appeared Seth Taft had won.

There was really a sense of despair, recalled Anne Bloomberg, at the time a 26-year-old civil rights activist and campaign volunteer. Our hopes were so high going in, and it looked like it would all be for naught.

But then it all began to change. Votes from predominantly black, East Side neighborhoods were the last to be counted. Slowly, but inexorably, Taft’s lead began to shrink.

We had ward-watchers in the neighborhoods and we knew Carl would come back, recalled Ann Felber Kiggen, Stokes’ campaign scheduler. When it began to happen, I remember this incredible feeling that swept through the headquarters. People were dancing and holding hands. It was uncontained joy.

It was 3 a.m. when, with nearly 900 of the city’s 903 precincts reporting, Stokes took the lead for the first time. Out of 250,000 votes cast, he won by 2,500.

Then, as the mayor-elect appeared before about 400 jubilant supports, the room grew quiet when he declared, I can say to all of you that never before have I known the full meaning of the words, ‘God Bless America.’

In his autobiography, Promises of Power, Stokes would later marvel at the magnitude of what happened that night.

In a race for high office, the grandson of a slave had defeated the grandson of a president.

That had never happened before. And it hasn’t happened since.

The Cleveland that elected Carl B. Stokes mayor was a far cry from the one that chose Michael R. White as the city’s second black mayor 22 years later and light years removed from the one that elected Frank Jackson in 2005.

In 1967, Cleveland was still a top-10 city, with a population north of 750,000 nearly 300,000 more than today. Because race was as much a factor in city politics then as it is now, Stokes’ election was all the more remarkable; the city’s black population was only about 35 percent then. Today, that figure surpasses 53 percent.

To defeat Seth Taft, a decent man with a magic name who would later serve with distinction as a Cuyahoga County commissioner, Stokes needed white votes lots of them.

We knew we had to broaden our base on the west and south sides, recalled Charlie Butts, Stokes’ brainy, 25-year-old campaign manager fresh out of Oberlin College. But we had to be careful not to give the appearance of running different campaigns in different parts of town.

To give his campaign legitimacy, Stokes desperately needed support from whites in corporate boardrooms and city neighborhoods. He got it from this newspaper, which endorsed him on the front page.

He got it from people like Bob Bry, a vice president of Otis Elevator who organized a group of business leaders to take out newspaper ads on Stokes’ behalf.

I was a registered Republican, but my sympathies were with what Carl was trying to do, said Bry, now 84 and living in Florida. Some business leaders were bothered by it. But no one ever said anything to my face.

He got it from people like Ann and Joe McManamon and hundreds of others like them who paid a price for welcoming Stokes into their living rooms and churches.

There were recriminations, remembered Ann McManamon. We got some very hateful phone calls. It got quite nasty. But our friends stuck with us and were supportive.

Nearly one in five whites voted for Stokes  which meant he needed nearly nine out of every 10 black votes.

To win those votes, Stokes built a political organization that, to this day, serves as a model for black candidates across the country. It was a base that relied heavily on churches, ward leaders and a grass-roots field operation that extensively schooled street captains on how to maximize turnout.

That same base later enabled Stokes’ brother, Lou, to become an institution in Congress. It helped make former City Council President George Forbes powerful and wealthy. And it twice brought Arnold Pinkney to the brink of becoming Cleveland’s second black mayor.

It was a base built to last  and last it did.

All around the country  in places like Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Chicago  black candidates copied what Carl was able to achieve in Cleveland, said his brother. What made it special was that it was done so well and had never been done before.

There was no blueprint for electing a black mayor of a major American city. So Stokes drew his own.

He had a plan on how to win, and he never strayed from it, said Forbes. In his prime, there was none better  none.

From City Hall to New York, and, finally, back home

Stokes won re-election in 1969, but did not seek a third term in 1971, leaving soon after for New York, where he was a television anchor and later a reporter for NBC. Over the years, Stokes gave various reasons for his decision not to seek a third term, but he was clearly tired of the constant struggles involved in leading a big city with mounting problems.

Stokes’ record as mayor was decidedly mixed. He brought a sense of fairness to the city’s hiring practices, helped raise the level of social services and aggressively fought to improve housing conditions. But Stokes fought repeatedly with City Council, and revelations that some funds from a poverty-fighting program he founded went to nationalists involved in the killing of police in the Glenville riots significantly eroded his popularity.

Upon his return to Cleveland in 1980, Stokes found that the new political stars were his brother and Forbes. In 1983, he became a Municipal Court judge an important position that lacked the high profile of a powerful congressman and council president. There were also some troubling and embarrassing moments. Stokes engaged in some high-profile political fights with onetime allies and was twice accused of shoplifting he paid restitution on one charge and was acquited of another.

But none of what happened later detracts from the significance of what Stokes achieved in 1967.

Many black leaders in the ’60s aspired to be Cleveland’s mayor, but only one ever stood a chance.

Only one person could have built that base, said Pinkney. Only one person had the charisma, the experience and the drive to win. Back then, it took a special talent for a black to be elected mayor. And only Carl had that talent.

Stokes was not a civil rights leader. He was a politician. And four decades later, Pinkney and others still speak with a sense of awe of Stokes’ political gifts. Butts thinks Stokes was born with an intellect, understanding and chemistry that allowed him to connect to voters in ways almost unprecedented. Forbes volunteers that Stokes had the whole package  looks, the charm and one of the sharpest political minds I’ve ever seen. Kiggen says he was the most charismatic man anyone could hope to ever meet.

In his book, Stokes wrote that he considered the 1965 campaign for mayor, in which he narrowly lost to Locher in the Democratic primary, the high point of my career.

He was mistaken. The 1965 campaign energized Stokes’ base. And it set the table for what would follow. But it paled, compared to what would happen two years later.

Always looking ahead, even at the end

For all his winning ways, Stokes was also the most complex politician I ever dealt with. He could be warm and witty one day, your enemy the next.

On Jan. 30, 1996, we visited over lunch at an East Side restaurant. He knew by then that his fight with cancer of the esophagus was one he couldn’t win.

As Stokes picked at food he could barely swallow, he spoke with no rancor as he reminisced about those days of glory that landed him on the cover of Time magazine. He wasn’t finished looking ahead, either: He eagerly agreed to meet with a group of young journalists at this newspaper to talk about how the political process affects minorities, and we chose a date in February.

But when the day came, he was too ill. By early April, he was gone.

He had long before kept the date that mattered most, though. That was the one back in 1967 that made him, in the sense of history, immortal.

Water by Brent Larkin (pdf)

Brent Larkin joined The Plain Dealer in 1981 and in 1991 became the director of the newspaper’s opinion pages. In October 2002 Larkin was inducted into The Cleveland Press Club’s Hall of Fame. Larkin retired from The Plain Dealer in May of 2009, but still writes a weekly column for the newspaper’s Sunday Forum section.

The link is here

The Late Cuyahoga County Republican Party Chairman Bob Hughes was Last of a Kind: Brent Larkin, Plain Dealer



The late Cuyahoga County Republican Party Chairman Bob Hughes was last of a kind: Brent Larkin

Published: Saturday, November 19, 2011, 2:25 PM

When Cuyahoga County Commissioner George Voinovich resigned to become lieutenant governor in early 1979, the usual suspects — middle-aged white guys — began jockeying to replace him.

But county Republican Party Chairman Bob Hughes had other ideas.

The Voinovich seat would be filled during a vote by Republican Party regulars. But in his 23 years as chairman, Hughes never called the roll unless he knew things would come out the way he wanted.

What Hughes wanted was to make history. He wanted Republican regulars to fill Voinovich’s seat with Virgil E. Brown, then the head of the county election board.

A former councilman from the Glenville neighborhood, Brown was a rarity — a black Republican. No black had ever held or been elected to a nonjudicial county office.

And Hughes’ recommendation wasn’t universally popular with many of the Republican guard.

“Some of the older guys thought that by picking Virgil, we’d be throwing the office away,” remembered Bob Bennett, at the time Hughes’ loyal assistant who would later serve nearly two successful decades as Ohio GOP chairman. “But Bob thought it was the right thing to do. So he took a stand.”

And he prevailed.

Brown not only won the appointment, but three times county voters validated the choice by electing Brown to full terms as commissioner.

“This whole community is indebted to Bob for his vision and willingness to take a risk,” said Virgil E. Brown Jr., the late commissioner’s son.

Hughes died 20 years ago today of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning inside the garage of his Lyndhurst home. He was 63.

And he was Cuyahoga County’s last true Republican boss, a leader in the mold of Mark Hanna and Maurice Maschke. The results speak for themselves:

On Hughes’ watch, Republican candidates won 11 elections for countywide office. Since he resigned as chairman in 1991, they’ve won one — in 1994.

When Hughes was chairman, Democrats in Cleveland held a registration advantage over Republicans of nearly 5 to 1. Nevertheless, Republican candidates won six elections for mayor — three each for Voinovich and Ralph Perk (five of those six were nonpartisan). Since then, they’ve won none.

The simplistic explanations for Hughes’ success argue that he was chairman at a time when Republicans, while still a distinct minority in the county, represented a slightly higher percentage of the electorate than today; and that the political roots of many successful GOP candidates were in the nationalities movement, not the Republican Party.

But those explanations ignore Hughes’ remarkable political instincts, his understanding of how to appeal to blue-collar independents and his single-minded dedication to winning elections.

What’s more, Hughes won elections the right way. Many of Hughes’ biggest admirers were Democrats because, as former Gov. Richard Celeste said at the time of his death, Hughes “played the game of politics the best way — hard and clean.”

Hughes’ last years as chairman were hardly his best. The party ran up debts. And loyalty prevented Hughes from seeing that his dear friend and mentor, former Gov. James A. Rhodes, was the wrong candidate to run against Celeste in the 1986 race for governor, which Celeste won in a rout.

But that barely dims his legacy.

“He was pretty much an impossible act to follow,” remembered Roger Synenberg, who succeeded Hughes. “The beauty of Bob was that he would talk to the guy on the street the same way he would talk to the president.”

But politics today is far meaner than it was 30 or 40 years ago. And Hughes, a consummate deal-maker, might not have been as successful in today’s climate.

Longtime Democratic pollster Bob Dykes, a big admirer, said “politics today is too uncivil for Bob.”

“My dad was never out to ruin people,” said Hughes’ son, Jonathan, a Columbus-based lobbyist. “Today, everybody is trying to throw their enemies in jail. I think my dad had as many Democratic friends as Republicans.”

But Rob Frost, the county’s current Republican chairman, thinks Hughes would have found a way to adapt.

“When Bob was chairman, there was not the great urban divide that we have today. But I don’t say that to make excuses. The record of Bob Hughes is the inspiration for what we need to aspire to as a party.”

That’s setting the bar pretty high — but exactly where it belongs.

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