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Black History Month: A Salute to Carl and Louis Stokes

On Tuesday, February 28th, we attended the last event for Black History Month which was the "Crowning Event Luncheon; A Salute to Carl and Louis Stokes" that was featured as guests two members of the Stokes family Mr. Cordell Stokes, the son of the late Mayor Carl Stokes, and Mr. Louis "Chuck" Stokes, the son of the late U.S. Congressperson Louis Stokes.

Both men were very appreciative of everyone there who has supported their fathers and their family over the years. And Mr. "Chuck" Stokes, who had been following the "debate on immigration", asked that everyone there remember that we were all immigrants at one time. Referring to slavery, he noted that some of our ancestors had been brought here "not by choice" but we all wound up "in the great melting pot that made America what it is today."

In a letter that appeared in the program for the day's event, Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson wrote, "To rise in the face of adversity is something most Clevelanders understand. The Stokes Brothers not only understand it, they lived it. Born into poverty, like so many of other great leaders in Cleveland, they embodied challenges as opportunities. Where they saw a need for change, they stepped up to the plate. In doing this, they paved the way for Clevelanders, like me to succeed. I can say that had the Stokes Brothers, not laid their claim on making Cleveland a place for all residents to rise above, I would not be mayor. It is fitting that this year's Black History Month programming honors their lives and their legacies by celebrating with the theme, 'Cleveland Hometown Heroes: Poverty to Power.'"

During the course of the event, it was noted that "Margaret W. Wong and Associates" was a silver sponsor of Black History Month 2017. We, ourselves, had the fortune to be able to share a table with Ms. Louise Boodie who had been involved with the Community Relations Board for at least 20 years now as well as other civic projects. We talked a little about retirement issues and Ms. Boodie echoed our thoughts when she said that she always wanted to remain involved on some level because "I just don't want to sit down!"

The keynote speaker of the day was Mr. Fred Nance, Global Managing Partner with "Squire Patton Boggs", who talked about his family's history and his own experiences growing up on the East Side of Cleveland. With his family's support, he able to attend St. Ignatius High School, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan Law School. From there, he joined the law firm of "Squire Patton Boggs" where he has been (very successfully) for the past 38 years and had many "great adventures" through his association with it. Along these lines, he loved working with former U.S. Congressperson Louis Stokes when he joined the firm in 1999. Mr. Nance ended his speech by assuring us that "there are lots more Stokes' and Nances out there" so we must endeavor to recognize the talented children of Cleveland and give them a little "fertilizer" (i.e. educational support and mentoring) so that "some day they will blossom" and we can look forward to them speaking at a program like this one.

Other speakers included Mayor Frank Jackson, Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley, and Mr. Blaine Griffin, Director of Cleveland's Community Relations Board. During the course of the event, it was noted that "Margaret W. Wong and Associates" was a silver sponsor of Black History Month 2017. We, ourselves, had the fortune to be able to share a table with Ms. Louise Boodie who had been involved with the Community Relations Board for at least 20 years now as well as other civic projects. We talked a little about retirement issues and Ms. Boodie echoed our thoughts when she said that she always wanted to remain involved on some level because "I just don't want to sit down!"

We especially liked it when Sgt. Kennedy Jones of the Cleveland Police Department, who has a lovely voice, lead us in a chorus of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and then, via solo, sang "The Wind Beneath My Wings" as a tribute to the "Cleveland Hometown Heroes" who were to be honored on this day. In fact, fourteen people were called up to give short speeches and accept awards in honor of their contributions to the Cleveland community over the years. They were Ms. Barbara Anderson (former Treasurer and President of Empowering and Strengthening Ohio's People), Ms. Patricia J. Britt (Clerk of Cleveland City Council), Lady Doniella Ligon ( founder of Women in Need Ministries), Rev. Charles Lucas (several distinguished pastoral positions as well as serving on at least 17 boards and advisory positions), Mr. Robert P. Madison (retired Chairman and CEO of Robert P. Madison International, Inc. Architects, Interiors, and Planners), Judge Anita Laster Mays (Ohio 8th District Court of Appeals), Ms. Valerie J. McCall (Chief of Government and International Affairs for Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson), Mr. Louis Moore (President of Brick City Productions & a Partner in the Cleveland Rat Pack), Mr. Eric Nolan (professional singer and launcher of "Boy Wonder Records"), Mr. Dominic L. Ozanne (President of Ozanne Construction Company), Mr. Richard "Zoom" Scott (Fox 8 News; 5-time Emmy winner as an editor, producer, and cameraman), Mr. Don L. Slocom (Executive Director and founder of the Neighborhood Leadership Institute), Mr. Ricky Smith (writer on Cartoon Network's "Black Dynamite and creator of the charity fund "Random Acts of Kindness Everywhere"), and Mr. Earle B. Turner (Clerk of Courts for the Cleveland Municipal Court).

In "Welcome" remarks, Ms. Jacqueline Muhammad, Manager of Community Relations for Port Control, recalled that in the opening ceremony, she mentioned that the definition of "hero" was "a person admired for achievements and noble qualities and one who shows great courage" and went on to say that "with that definition, we certainly have a lot of heroes in this room right now."

Ms. Muhmmad continued her speech by saying, "today, let's look at 'Power'. Two of the 'Webster's' definitions are: the ability to act or produce an effect and a source or means of supplying energy. If we liken energy to electricity, what happens when you plug a lamp into an outlet, you expect the light to come on. And if it doesn't, you would think something is wrong; either needing a new bulb or there's no juice coming from the outlet. Buckle your seat belts folks, you don't have to worry about a lack of power, light or energy today. We have 14 individuals-having power each in their own right, and heroes-admired for there achievements and noble qualities. I'll tell you that if you plug into our lineup of speakers and honorees today, I guarantee you-you will feel power coming from the outlet. And hopefully the effect of that Energy and Power will inspire you and I and us all to take action and your and our place in History as well."

In another section of his letter that we referred to above, Mayor Jackson continued his thoughts by writing, "together, we must continue the progress that has already been made, commit ourselves to truly engaging in change, and be willing to support the endeavors that have the greatest reach in our community. In doing this, we build on the work of the leaders who came before us, building a foundation for our children, ourselves, and the future of our city. By remembering and learning from our history, we can create opportunities for increased prosperity, greater equality, and a higher purpose in our city."

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC