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Out & About in Cleveland

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Cuyahoga Democratic Women's Caucus

On Saturday, May 9th, our first event was the 6th annual Cuyahoga Democratic Women's Caucus (CDWC) Brunch held this year at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. So many people were there that we knew that if we named one person we would have to name all of them. And these people, men as well as women, were not only from Cuyahoga County; in fact there were attendees who hailed from Cincinnati and Dayton. Ms. Cindy Demsey, the Chair of the CDWC, said that she was honored to be at the helm of this gathering of "smart, strong, and inspiring women." If there was a theme for this year if was the recognition of women who were trendsetters as they fought for the civil rights and civil liberties that many people take for granted today. Nevertheless, if these women had not taken risks and made sacrifices we would not have what we have.

This was evidenced by the very title of the program which was "Reflections on Selma: Inspiration for the Future." Accordingly, U.S. Congresswoman Marcia Fudge gave a presentation in which she said that it was important that we know the history of that time period in the mid-1960's because if we forget it then we run the risk of things getting so desperate that it will be repeated at the expense of many. She said that she urged young people to see the movie "Selma" and quite a few of the ones she talked to after they saw it said that they didn't think the violence depicted in the film ever happened.

Congresswoman Fudge went on to say that the civil rights movements was not just about the voting rights act but that it sparked a trend of progressive legislation that had enormous effect on society like the Social Security Act, Head Start, Job Corps, Consumer Affairs, HUD, and the Immigration Reform Act of 1965. After she mentioned the latter, the congresswoman paused for a moment and said that "people are still complaining about immigrants now aren't they?"

In conclusion, she believed that the Selma march was about the disenfranchised, with the help of many others, coming together and asserting themselves. She then expressed concern about the number of people who feel disenfranchised today and urged the attendees to take note of the budget cuts to social programs that have taken place over the years and our military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Along these lines, it was appropriate that we had with us at the CDWC brunch Ms. Julia Bell Rogers who, as a child, took part in civil rights activities in that time period with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Innovators who were honored at the brunch were Ms. C.J. Prentiss who, among many other stellar accomplishments was the second African American woman to serve as democratic leader in the Ohio State Senate and Ohio State Rep. Teresa Fedor who has fought courageously in the legislature on behalf of women's health issues.

We are members of the Solon Chamber of Commerce so we liked sitting with Solon City Councilwoman Nancy E. Meany and being updated on happenings in that community. We were very sorry to learn that the planned Indian Center will not be established there after all due to lack of funding.

It was said that another factor that plays an important part in making us who we are is our relationship with our mothers. Thus, it was appropriate that the CDWC brunch take place the day before Mother's Day.

Saturday night we were supposed to take part in the Bow Tie Bowl for the Human Rights campaign at Freeway Lanes Bowling Alley in Parma. All bowlers were to wear bow ties and "join HRC Cleveland for a fun night of bowling, food, raffles and friendship. We got there just before starting time at 7pm only to find out that the event had been cancelled due to "unforeseen circumstances." We were very disappointed because we had purchased a bow tie just for that occasion and had looked forward to bowling for two hours and eating pizza. So we put away the bow tie and head to our next event which was definitely an open collar affair.

And this event was "Rhythms of Latin America: Interreligious Task Force on Central America (IRTF) Dance Gala" held at the Viva Dance Studio on East 38th Street on the 2nd Floor of the Asian Town Center. We arrived just as the program was starting. Ms. Sarah Sommers, Christian Peacemaker Team Activist, performed emcee duties and explained to us that the IRTF's mission was to work with the people of Central America to achieve peace, justice, and human rights through nonviolence. Among the many things that the IRTF did in 2014 was "to speak to and connect with" 1,154 students at 46 youth empowerment workshops. She also announced that in March of this year Cleveland Heights gone through the procedures to be designated as a Fair Trade City.

As a real treat, Ms. Sommers introduced Dr. Kathryn Metz, Musicologist and Head Education Instructor at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, who talked a little bit about the Latin Dances that we were about to see performed. We then watched performances by the Latinos Unidos from Cleveland State University, and Los Caneros (which featured our friend Dr. Julio Aponte).

Earlier we were sorry that we missed the pizza at the cancelled HRC event but our sorrow quickly dissipated as we ate the delicious Hispanic food that had been provided for us by the IRTF. Even though dancing is fun, we chose to sit it out while Ms. Rebecca Sweet, co-owner of Viva Dance Studio, showed many of the other attendees how to Salsa dance. Before we left, we spoke with Mr. Has Rahamataloi who went to law school with our Joseph Fungsang. Mr. Rahamataloi, himself, now works for the Federal Reserve.

We always like to attend IRTF events so we obtained a list of ones coming up later this year and plan to make at least some of them.

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