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Archive for November 13th, 2010

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On this date in 1967, Carl B. Stokes was sworn in as the Mayor of Cleveland, making him the first African-American mayor of Cleveland and, according to some, a major United States city. (I have not been able to find anything that clarified what qualifies as a “major” city , as he was not the first black mayor in the U.S.) A native Clevelander, Stokes was raised by his mother after his father passed away when he was still a toddler. After serving in the U.S. Army, Stokes earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a law degree from the Cleveland-Marshall School of Law. He became a lawyer and embarked on a political career, serving in the Ohio House of Representatives before he won election as Cleveland’s mayor.

Stokes’ time as mayor reflected the unrest common in much of the country. His accomplishments included raising the city income tax, passage of the Equal Opportunity Ordinance, improvement of sewage treatment facilities, and increased city funding of education, public welfare, and public safety. He initiated a program called “Cleveland: Now!” to fund a rehabilitation of Cleveland. Unfortunately, that program ultimately served as a detriment, when the leaders of the Glenville Shootout were revealed to have misused funding from the program to purchase firearms.

After his time in office, Stokes became a news anchorman in New York City and then returned to Cleveland to serve as a judge from 1983-1994. President Bill Clinton appointed Stokes as ambassador to Seychelles. In 1996, Stokes succumbed to cancer of the esophagus. He is buried in Lake View Cemetery near the pond behind Wade Chapel. Cleveland has honored their son by naming the Federal Court building downtown for him.

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