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Reflections: The Many of Faces of Stephanie Tubbs Jones

On Thursday, October 16th, we were proud to represent Ms. Margaret W. Wong at the opening of "Reflections: The Many of Faces of Stephanie Tubbs Jones", the inaugural exhibition of a new gallery dedicated to Congresswoman Jones at the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. This initial exhibit featured the large photographs of 22 women who represent some facet of the late congresswoman's life. Ms. Margaret W. Wong had her photo there because she, along with several other prominent women, was a worthy representative of the "Embraced Diversity" facet. It is on the north wall between those of Ms. Deborah Cartwright, President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and the Hon. Carolyn B. Friedland, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge.

The were several speeches and a video of prominent people all paying tribute to Congresswoman Jones. Mr. Ricky D. Smith, Director of Airports, said that "we all look like a crown about to be graced for a special lady." He, as well as several other speakers, talked about how Congresswoman Jones grew up with this airport since her father worked for United Airlines for 40 years and, as a congresswoman, she advocated for federal funding for it. He remembered that the congresswoman could not walk through the airport without being stopped by a lot of people and how kind she was to them all.

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge said that her predecessor may have walked with "kings and queens" but she never lost her common touch. Mayor Frank Jackson agreed and said that Congresswoman Jones never lost sight of where she came from and "judged those in power by how they used power" and called her an advocate for the common person.

The son of Congresswoman Jones, Mr. Mervyn Jones and her sister, Ms. Barbara Tubbs Walker, spoke for a minute. Mr. Jones recalled how, when he was younger, he used to drop his mother off at the airport all of the time and then get to use the car for his own purposes. Ms. Walker recalled that as a child, the congresswoman was very quiet but when she grew up she was "quite a piece of work." As they concluded, they gave some beautiful flowers to Ms. Jacqueline Muhammad, Community Relations Manager for the Cleveland Airport System, who worked so hard to create this gallery and put this exhibition together.

The keynote speech was given by retired Congressman Louis R. Stokes who talked of Congresswoman Jones many accomplishments. He said that when she walked into a room it was like turning on the lights higher; she lit up a room when she entered it. Congressman Stokes said that when he retired it was only natural that Ms. Stephanie Tubbs Jones be the one to replace him. In fact, when Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi told him how much he would be missed, he said, "wait and see what I am sending to replace me!"

It would not be fair if we didn't mention the other people whose photographs were on display and which facet they represented and thus they were Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (for Congresswoman); Ms. Joanna Lopez, Cuyahoga County Assistant Prosecutor (for Prosecutor); Hon. Carolyn B. Friedland and Hon Patricia Ann Blackmon (for Judge); Ms. Inajo Davis Chappell (for Attorney); Ms. Meghan M. McLaughlin (for social worker); Ms. Velma Scott, Entrepreneur (for Dedicated Mother); Ms. Traci Pinkney (for Devoted Daughter); Ms. Barbara Tubbs Walker (for Sister); Dr. Betty K. Pinkney, Ph.D (for A Friend Indeed); Ms. Deborah Cartwright (for Loyal to Delta); Hon. Alison T. Floyd (for Youth Advocate); Ms. Lee Friedman (for Champion of Education); Ms. Cynthia Rowan (for One of the Faithful); Ms. Mary Verdi Fletcher, Ms. Angelica Campos, Sister Juanita Shealey, CSJ, Ms. Gia Hoa Ryan, Ms. Julia Shearson (all for Embraced Diversity along with Ms. Wong); Ms. Joyce Hood (for Community Advocate); Ms. Stacey Stoudemire (for Passionate Chef).

It seemed like most of these women were there but a few were not like our good friend Ms. Gia Hoa Ryan who was traveling. We are grateful to Ms. Mary Verdi Fletcher for saving us a chair after we got tired of standing; Ms. Julia Shearson for taking our photo next to that of Ms. Wong; and to Ms. Jacqueline Muhammad for mentioning from the podium that Ms. Wong had sent a representative to this event. At the conclusion, we hurried out to go to our next event but we thought of Congressman Stokes when he said that this event was just not about honoring the later congresswoman but what her life meant to all of us and that "a proud community was remembering one of its greatest daughters."

We then hurried to the Ariel Center for the last part of "Namaste! One Light for One World" which was a celebration/benefit for the 40th Anniversary for International Partners in Mission (IPM). We have been to several of their programs over the last several days and tonight we got their just as Mr. George Hrbek and Paster Doug Horner were receiving well-deserved awards.

We were sorry that we arrived so late but Ms. Sarah Gauvin, a Project Partner and Communications Coordinator for IPM from Maine, told us about all that had happened before we arrived and that it had been a successful event with about 160 people attending at various times.

We were happy to see Dr. Dorothy Nyong'o and her husband because we got to tell her again how much we liked her presentation on Tuesday night. We saw an old friend of ours, Mr. Tony Vento and talked with him about the liberation theology event at the City Club which we attended on Thursday. Mr. Vento had studied liberation theology so we welcomed his insights.

Before we left we spoke to two people who know Ms. Margart Wong well who were Poster Abel Oriri of Heights Fellowship and Dr. Carolyn Mugerwa whose husband consulted with Ms. Wong about his immigration status in 2003 or 2004. Dr. Mugerwa told us that she immigrated to the United States from Kenya in 1987 before moving to the Cleveland area in 1993. She became a citizen in 2000 and married her husband who immigrated here from Uganda in 2001. In 2005 she completed her residency and became a doctor of podiatry while her husband is a doctor of cardiology. They now live in Jonestown, PA but enjoyed coming here to visit old friends and attend this event.

Even though we had had some delicious hummus at the Cleveland airport we still welcomed the opportunity to sample some, what turned out to be great, vegan carrot stew. We left very impressed by the fine, dedicated people that are drawn to IPM and the fact that more than a few of them were at all of the IPM events that we attended this week.

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