Multiple events are already planned throughout 2017 for the year-long commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Carl Stokes’ historic election as mayor of Cleveland.
They not only honor Mayor Carl Stokes but also his brother, Congressman Louis Stokes. According to the news release from Cuyahoga Community College, the events are planned to build on their legacy of advocacy and action by inspiring a new generation of Northeast Ohio leaders.
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 all, there are 60 community partners involved in the commemoration.
More events will be added to Stokes: Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future and you can see the current events and any further additions at www.stokes50cle.com
According to the latest list, signature events already 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.
• 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, according to the release.
Tri-C says that 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 the news release.
“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.”
Detailed in the release is the fact that 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."
The release also noted that "...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."