Black History Month Minister’s Breakfast

On Wednesday, February 27th, our first event was a Cleveland Black History Month Ministers’ Breakfast which took place at the Sunshine Cafe on Kinsman Avenue in Cleveland where we were treated to good food, some short but telling speeches, and songs sung by Officer Kennedy Jones, who often sings at Cleveland City Hall celebrations and is now retired from the Cleveland Police Dept.

Some of the speakers were Ms. Yvonne Pointer now retired from the City of Cleveland; Tim Tramble from Burton, Bell, Carr Development, Inc., located right next to the Sunshine Cafe; Mr. Jae Williams from WOVU 95.9 FM, which also had its office nearby; Cleveland Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland; John Habat from Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity; former Cleveland City Councilman Jay Westbrook now with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy; and Pastor Grady Stevenson from the Community Relations Board, who conducted the proceedings.

Pastor Ernie Fields of the Calvary Hill Church of God in Christ was the honoree this year. He is a longtime community activist and is currently the coordinator of the Buckeye Ministry and Mission Alliance, made up of three churches, whose purpose is leading community members in an effort to refurnish old  homes and clean-up vacant lots. Pastor Fields was recently quoted on the Channel 5 News as saying, “when you look at the streets, what they used to look like, and you see the improvements now, even the residents know that these streets have had a marked improvement…It begins to give hope to the residents that something is actually happening.”

As he accepted his award, Pastor Fields said that, besides himself, the honor should go to everyone who worked so hard to improve their neighborhood. Pastor Fields’ words were very much consistent with the theme of the City of Cleveland’s Black History Month program for 2019 which is “Building a Sense of Community.”

Pastor Dave Gulley, a chaplain with the Cleveland Police Department explored this theme further. He shared his own story about growing-up in Cleveland as the product of a mother with special physical needs and an absentee father. He readily admitted that he was very vulnerable in terms of getting in serious trouble, but fortunately people in his surrounding neighborhood were nurturing and ready to help.

Therefore, Pastor Gulley was convinced that the three c’s to strengthening one’s community are commitment, consistency, and color-meaning that we need to be able to perceive things in not just black/white but in a multi-faceted way. As he sees it, the challenge before us is to inspire others to become involved in actions that strengthen our localities.

Along these lines, we sat next to a fine gentleman named Larry who worked for 39 years as a letter carrier before he retired. As a member of the Greater Cleveland Volunteers, he now devotes a a significant amount of his time to tutoring children in the Cleveland Public Schools. Larry very much likes what he does because tutoring keeps him busy in a positive way and he believes he is really helping the children.

Incidentally, while Larry was a letter carrier, he delivered mail to the office of Ms. Margaret W. Wong when she worked in the Standard Building. He said to be sure to tell her hello for him.