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Out & About in Cleveland

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MLK Service Day

We spent Monday, January 19th, at several events that were all conducted to uphold the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the holiday created to honor him. We started off at 7 A.M. at the Doubletree Hotel on Lakeshore where the 15th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Breakfast Celebration took place. We shared a table with Ms. Carmen Moguel and Mr. Audrey Wynne, both from the Northeast Ohio Media Group as well as Ms. Dava Cansler of the Foluke Cultural Arts Center which received an award for providing affordable arts activities in the Central Neighborhood. When we told Ms. Wynne that we were from the office of Margaret W. Wong and Associates, she said that Ms. Wong has "a really strong brand" and even though she has never been in need of an immigration attorney, she definitely knows Ms. Wong's name.

One of the sponsors of this event was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which was represented today by Ms. Caprice Bragg, Vice President of Development. She told us thank Ms. Wong for all of the support that she has given the Rock Hall.

A memorable moment of today's breakfast was when 13 students from grades 1 through 12 were honored as this year's "MLK Holiday Scholars" for designing and creating birthday cards for Dr. King which was on display on bulletin boards and in the souvenir booklet. The work of these 13 students was chosen for recognition over the work of 852 other students who also participated; in fact, over the years 11,000 students have entered this contest which was the concept of Ms. Delores McCollum who received the "In the Footsteps of Dr. King" award for her outstanding work on the scholarship committee and for developing the Successful Classroom Management Initiative which trains teachers to better manage their classroom. Taking part in the recognition of the young people was Ms. Beverly Lloyd who told us that years ago Ms. Margaret W. Wong used to do the taxes of herself and her husband when Ms. Wong had an office in the Payne Avenue area.

We were very fortunate to have Rev. Cory Jenkins from the Shiloh Baptist Church in Cleveland there to give the invocation. Rev. Cory said that to "celebrate" is also a call to serve and urged all present to use our own special talents to serve humanity. Later in the program Rev. Cory got to introduce the Keynote Speaker who happened to be his wife, Reverend Courtney Clayton Jenkins from the Euclid United Church of Christ. Rev. Courtney first talked about growing up in Pepper Pike where her best friend was a white girl and said she lost her innocence on racial matters when someone told her that a white girl and an African American girl could be friends but not best friends. She went on to use the story from the Bible about the prodigal son as a framework for the message that we must work for social justice but if we become downtrodden and/or disillusioned we can go back home, or to God, to be re-energized but must then continue to work for social justice after we have become reinvigorated. Moreover, we must learn to "partner together" because one socially concerned person pitted against another is a waste of time, energy, and spirit. It was a fiery presentation which certainly reinvigorated us (and a lot of other people too) who were a bit tired from getting up so early. Everyone agreed that Rev. Cory and Rev. Courtney were a wonderful team and we look forward to hearing more from them in the future.

It was also good today to see our friends Ms. Meredith Turner who was there representing U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and Mr. Don Graham, retired Executive Vice President of Fifth Third Bank. We introduced ourselves to Ms. McCullum who said, after she heard that we worked for Ms. Margaret W. Wong, that "we have to get ourselves together in so many ways and immigration is one of them."

At the Martin Luther King breakfast, we observed a moment of silence for the late Ms. Connie Harper, Executive Vice President and Editor of the "Call and Post" newspaper, who was the "In the Footsteps of Dr. King" award recipient in 2009. After we left the breakfast, we went to the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage which was offering several Martin Luther King Day events. We opted to attend an 11:30 AM panel discussion about the importance of black voices in the media and a remembrance of Ms. Connie Harper.

The discussion was moderated by Ms. Sonali Wilson; General Counsel, Cleveland State University; and featured her sister, the Hon. Judge Sara J. Harper, Ms. Sheila Wright, Executive Director of the Cleveland NAACP, Mr. Kevin Heard, Managing Editor of the "Call and Post," and Mr. James W. Wade, III, Reporter at the "Call and Post."

Mr. Heard noted that it was an interesting time for journalism due to the advent of the internet and other technical devices that deliver the news but he believed that people still want to have an actual newspaper that they can sit down and read so he is proud to be working for the "Call and Post" because he considers it to be everything that a black newspaper should be in terms of standing up for black people. And others recognize it as such because it has won awards and other national media outlets have sometimes contacted them for their viewpoint. One of their biggest challenges is commercial reciprocation; businesses want media coverage but don't want to spend the money to advertise.

Mr. Wade said that it is always important for a newspaper to balance business with news. He noted that it is often the case that when people move away from Cleveland they still subscribe to the "Call and Post". He believed that Don King getting involved with the "Call and Post" was a tremendous plug even though Mr. King never had anything to do with the actual managing of the newspaper; he let Ms. Harper do that.

Ms. Wright said that people come to her office and expect to see the "Call and Post" there. She believes that it is often the only voice representing how the community feels due to its accurate and fair reporting.

Judge Harper said that the "Call and Post" is good for young people because they like to read it to see what is happening in the community and see if a picture of anyone that they know is there. Subsequently, a newspaper might just get them interested in reading and then they might read a book. Judge Harper told us that when she travels people come to her an ask if she brought a "Call and Post" with her. She believes that the newspaper is doing a "heck of a job" and if it were for sale, she might consider buying it.

Ms. Wilson then asked everyone to talk about Ms. Connie Harper and they all had memories that they wished to share.

Mr. Wade said that "she is etched in our souls at the newspaper" and that she was a very giving person. He said that, "glad I had the chance to cross her path."

Ms. Wright said that she was a real "renaissance woman" and a "role model for me and other professionals." What's more, she always had a smile on her face on good days as well as bad.

Judge Harper read a couple of letters that her sister wrote including one that concerned the 95th anniversary of the "Call and Post" and noted that her sister was full of pride that the newspaper was still alive and going strong whereas others had failed. Judge Harper made it clear, though, that her sister was a family person who was very active in her children's lives and always had time for her family.

Mr. Heard said that Connie Harper had a wide range of interests but "she was first and foremost a journalist." But she was also "a wonderful mentor who gave us a blueprint for success." When she spoke, she "spoke with the full power of the 'Call and Post' behind her" no matter who she spoke to-she was an outstanding representative of her newspaper as well as its editor.

Our last event for the day was the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service at the former AIDS Task Force of Greater Cleveland office on Prospect Avenue where we worked from 3pm to 5pm. First, we sorted out items like shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, lotion, and soap so they could be placed in hygiene kits to be handed out to people in need. One of the rooms was full of things like shirts socks and coats which could be given away also. There was also a party room where there was music, pizza and soft drinks for those who stopped by.

We took part in this project last year and we so much liked working with people there like Ms. Char Ligo-Hamilton, Mr. Kyle Lewis, Mr. Ted Rosati, Ms. Melanie Falls and Ms. Terry Moore that we volunteered again this year. Most of our time was spent with Ms. Peggy McNulty and her daughter, Ms. Devin McNulty, handing out tote bags with water bottles inside to people just as they came in. There were plenty of volunteers who were eager to help so, even though the gathering lasted until 7PM, we left after a couple of hours but we were still glad that we got to contribute.

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