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Embracing Civil, Human, and Women's Rights Under a New Administration

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On Tuesday, April 4th, we went to the City Club to attend a program titled "Embracing Civil, Human, and Women's Rights Under a New Administration" which was to feature the Reverend Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network, and Dr. Faye E. Williams, Esp., the President and CEO of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. and, in addition to other accomplishments, former Counsel to the U.S. Congress' DC Sub-Committee on the Judiciary and Education being interviewed by Ms. Darrielle Snipes from Ideastream.

We arrived early and visited with Reverend Dr. Mendle Adams, the Visitation Minister for Plymouth Church, UCC in Shaker Heights who was there with his wife, Charlene. Rev. Dr. Adams told us that he was really looking forward to finally seeing Rev. Sharpton speak in person although he and his wife had listened to him speak many times before on TV or on radio.

During lunch we shared a table with Ms. Joy Roller who was also at the program we attended at CWRU the previous day featuring former President of Mexico Vicente Fox; Dr. Mark Giuliano, Senior Pastor of the Old Stone Church; Professor Lauren Onkey, Dean and Chair of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Humanities Center at Tri-C; Mr. Dixon Morgan, Financial Advisor at Boyd, Watterson Asset Management; Dr. Bob Heath, retired Professor of Biological Sciences at KSU; and Ms. Nicole Bates, a promising young person, who told us that she had read Ms. Margaret W. Wong's book, "The Immigrant's Way" and thought it was quite powerful.

Word soon got out that Rev. Sharpton's planned flight from Washington, DC to Cleveland was interminably delayed so Mr. Dan Moulthrop, CEO and President of the City Club, asked Ms. Susan L. Hall, Director of Community Relations of the History Center at Western Reserve Historical Society, to take part in the program along with Dr. Williams and Ms. Snipes. From then on, things went without a hitch and the discussion was informative and dynamic.

It was agreed that in order to prevent the "new administration" from reversing the progress made in the civil rights era of the 1950's-1960's, the various human rights groups must come together and support each other. Dr. Williams said that "we have the resilency to keep moving" even though we might be momentarily knocked down. She recounted things she had witnessed overseas which indicated that the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had touched too many people for it to put down by current political leaders. Dr. Williams went on to say that we should mobilize our unique talents as individuals and become "peace terrorists" meaning that we should assert ourselves in a non-violent manner and work for the advancement of human rights"without anger or fear" because "all rights benefit all people" regardless of gender or color. She contended that an excellent example of the necessary coming together was the Women's March on January 21st which we, ourselves, took part in.

 

Ms. Hall said that as historians "we must look back in order to look forward" and appreciate the sacrifices made by our parents and grandparents, of all races, and learn from them. When our friend Ms. Meryl Johnson, member of the State Board of Education, asked for advice about how to get students engaged in history and to make them see that those who practiced non-violence were actually courageous, it was suggested that young people might benefit from a visit to Selma, Alabama to see the bridge on which so much took place and/or other places that were prominent in the civil rights movement.

For that matter, Cleveland was quite historical because in 1967 we elected the first African-American mayor of a major city where people of color were a minority in our nation's history. Dr. Williams, Ms. Hall, and Ms. Snipes discussed its significance and Ms. Hall, who is involved in a program concerning the 50th anniversary of Mayor Carl Stokes' election, shared some things about the campaign that we didn't know before such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. being in Cleveland on election night but deliberately deciding not to attend the celebration because he wanted the focus to be on the mayor-elect.

During the course of the conversation, Dr. Williams indicated that while integration was the center-point of activism years ago but it might be replaced by immigration at this time. We talked to her for a moment afterwards and she agreed that immigration is undoubtedly a vital issue and one that will need to be addressed constructively by all of us because it touches all of our lives in some way.

Prior to the start of the dialogue, Ms. Snipes said that this was going to be a "great conversation with powerful and amazing ladies" and the expectation was realized.

As we were leaving, we said goodbye to Rev. Dr. Adams who didn't get to see Rev. Al Sharpton but was not disappointed at all.

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC