FAMOUS FRIDAY: Mayor Frank Jackson

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Me with Mayor Frank Johnson at his office yesterday.

Yesterday, I got to spend some time with Cleveland’s 56th mayor, Frank Jackson.

I can not share all the details about the off the record conversation that a small group of African American and multiracial students from University School had with Mayor Jackson. I can tell you it was deep and he was very open about his thoughts and feelings on some really important issues.

We asked:

How do you feel about the allegations of excessive force by Cleveland Police?

How do you feel about the Cleveland Police Union endorsing Donald Trump for President?

What are your views on immigration?

How do you feel about Stop and Frisk?

What is your view on what Colin Kaepernick did?

And he thoughtfully and wisely responded to each question. It was awesome to hear the views of a multiracial political leader on these difficult topics.

Mayor Jackson was elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009 and 2013, making him just the second Cleveland mayor to serve three terms. Clearly, he is a very popular mayor and has led the City of Cleveland to a really great era. This year the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship, Cleveland hosted the Republican National Convention and now, the Cleveland Indians are headed to the World Series! Go Tribe! Go!

Jackson was born in Cleveland in 1946 to a black father and a white mother. After graduating from High School, he served in the Army. When he returned, he went to Cleveland State University to study Urban Studies and History. He also earned his master’s degree in Urban Affairs. He became an attorney, working as an assistant city prosecutor, after putting himself through law school also at CSU. Soon he won a seat on the Cleveland’s City Council where he was involved in creating a lot of positive change in an area of the city that had many problems. He is the first sitting member of Cleveland City Council to become mayor since 1867.

During his mayoral campaign, Jackson said that if he didn’t restore hope to the ailing city within 200 days of taking office, he would consider himself a failure. I have only lived in Cleveland for a year and a half, but this city is full of hope and excitement.

Shortly after winning the election he appointed his former opponent Triozzi as law director. This is really interesting because the law director would become mayor if the elected mayor is out of the city, resigns or becomes incapable of serving. Try to imagine Donald or Hillary appointing the other to a position like that! Many consider Mayor Jackson to be a unifier. An advocate for regionalism for Cleveland-Cuyahoga County, Mayor Jackson, in his Election Day 2005 speech, said, “We are one Cleveland, we no longer have the luxury of city and suburbs separate.”

Soon after his inauguration, Jackson began working with the Cleveland Police Department. He introduced a new use of force policy that states: “Excessive force shall not be tolerated.” It is very interesting that Cleveland has been a prominent city in this discussion of excessive force and police gun violence against black men since the shooting of 12 year old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland Police officer in 2014 and it was good to hear the Mayor’s views on it.

Thank you, Mayor Jackson, for spending time with the Junior Pembroke Society and #GOTRIBE

  • Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Kids President

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