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

Project RACE Helps Welcome New U.S. Surgeon General

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PR Kids President, Karson Baldwin (that’s me!) with my new hero, the new U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy!

Fort Myer, VA –

Yesterday was a day I will never forget. It was an awesome honor to be invited to the Swearing-In and Change of Command Ceremony for the 19th Surgeon General of the United States, Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA.

The Surgeon General is considered “America’s Doctor” and his job is improving personal and public health for the USA. Dr. Murthy gave a really inspiring speech about his childhood and what made him decide to become a doctor. In his speech he also talked a lot about health care being a basic civil right for all and not a privilege for some and he talked about racial and economic health disparities.  At Project RACE, one of the main things we care about is equal rights in health care for multiracial people.  I think Dr. Murthy is now one of the most important people in our country, because he has the power to help with that.

But he was not the only big time government person there. Health and Human Service Secretary Burwell introduced Vice President Biden who was there to read the commission and lead Dr. Murthy in the Oath of Office. There were lots of other officials in the ceremony and in the crowd and I got to talk to three pharmacists at the FDA about including multiracial people in medical research!

The ceremony was at Fort Myer in Virginia and included all kinds of military activities because the Surgeon General leads the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps of 6,700 uniformed health officers “who serve around the world to promote, protect and advance the health and safety of our nation and our world.” There were bells, medals, frocking, marching and more. One of the coolest moments was when the Deputy Surgeon General announced to Dr. Murthy that they were “awaiting his command” and the new Surgeon General declared, “POST MY COLORS!” (like a BOSS!)

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Dr. Murthy went to Harvard for undergrad and Yale for Med School so we had to talk a little Harvard-Yale sports rivalry.

The highlight, of course, was when my mom and I got to talk with Dr. Murthy and his fiance, Dr. Alice Chen, after the ceremony.  All that Dr. Murthy has accomplished is crazy impressive. Being the youngest Surgeon General ever is crazy impressive. Being the first Indian Surgeon General ever is crazy impressive. But welcoming a 13 year old advocate to share in such a special day and taking the time to be so warm and humble is most impressive of all!

 

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Mom, Dr. Murthy, Me and Dr. Chen

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Dr. Murthy started his first non profit when he was 17 years old!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAMOUS FRIDAY: Marcus Mariota is the (heis)MAN!

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The Mariota Family

Marcus Mariota is the man!! The HeisMAN, that is!!! This week the University of Oregon quarterback was awarded the Heisman Trophy, given to the very best college football player of the year. I watched him accept the award and it was pretty awesome. The award meant so much to him that he sometimes had a hard time speaking without crying. He also thanked his white mom, Alana Deppe-Mariota, and Samoan dad, Toa Mariota, who were sitting in the audience. In fact, he thanked them SEVERAL times. Marcus is multiracial, of Samoan and German descent. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and has a little brother, Matt, who is a great high school football player.

One cool thing I learned is that Mariota was offered a full scholarship to Oregon before his senior year of high school even though he had not yet started a single varsity football game. He did start his senior year and led his team to the state title! He was also a star track athlete in high school. But it is not just his athletic skill that people admire. Marcus is a great example of humility and how to treat other people.

An article in the Daily Emerald during his freshman year at Oregon said, “And in his trademark fashion, Mariota found a way to connect to teammates without necessarily being the loudest guy in the room. Each morning, he shook hands with every player he came across, made sure to say hello. In post-practice media sessions — which became much more common for him during spring practices — his easygoing friendliness also extended to reporters, whom he’d smile at and clap on the shoulder as a form of greeting.”

Mariota became the first Oregon Duck and the first Hawaii-born athlete to ever win the Heisman Trophy. He had 788 out of 891 of the first place votes, and 90.9% of the total points. It wasn’t even close! The list of awards and records he holds is really long, but from now on the one that matters most is the Heisman Trophy. He will always be known as Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota!

As good as he is at sports, he may be just as good at being a great multiracial role model for kids like me!

 

Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Kids, President

 

A Day to Remember, A Day to Serve

 

For lots of kids Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is nothing more than a day off of school. Some sleep late, play video games, skateboard or go to the movies. But I think that MLK Day is much too important for that.  For the last five years, I have been participating with my family and friends in MLK National Day of Service projects.  This year we served in areas of the Jersey Shore still suffering from Hurricane Sandy. It has been almost 15 months since the storm and lots of homes have not yet begun to be rebuilt. Lots of kids are still living with friends or relatives or in trailers.

It feels good to do what we can to help them. It was also fun to work with other members of the Project RACE team.  Our own Project RACE Teens President, Tommy McManus, won the MLK essay contest and read his awesome essay to a huge crowd of volunteers and community leaders.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.” I am glad that Project RACE believes this as well. We have a kids and teens division, because we know that anyone who is old enough to serve, is old enough to make a great difference, whether it be in multiracial advocacy or in helping victims of disaster.

 

Happy MLK Day, everybody!!!

 

– Karson

President, Project RACE Kids

We are a Part of the Dream!

“I have a dream that one day… little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

I have had an incredible summer. One of the highlights was getting to go to Washington, D.C. I had been to the monuments before but not for quite awhile and there was a new one to see, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. It is awesome.

Today is the 50th anniversary of MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech.  The quote above is really meaningful for Project RACE Kids.  Not only have little black boys and black girls joined hands with little white boys and little white girls as sisters and brothers, but people of all races have also joined hands as husband and wife and made multiracial kids like me!

I think we are all a part of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream coming true and that makes me happy.

 – Karson Baldwin

President, Project RACE Kids

Former Harvard College Dean to Focus on Race and Medicine

Hi! Hope everyone is having a great summer. I have some cool news to share with you. One of the biggest issues facing multiracial people is making sure that we have the same rights and quality of medicine and healthcare. Project RACE has done a lot of work in this area.

There is a lot of confusion about this. Many people think that because race is a “social construct”, it isn’t important in the field of medicine. But there are so many reasons why that’s not true. That’s why we’re really excited to hear that Dr. Evelynn Hammonds, who was Dean of Harvard College from 2008 – 2013, was stepping down as Dean to lead a new Harvard research program on race and medicine.

Dr. Hammonds with students including Rachel who was a bridesmaid in my sister's wedding!

Both of my big sisters are Harvard students and lucky enough to know Dr. Hammonds. Kayci took a class with her that had only 8 students in it and was very impressed and Kendall already talked to Dr. Hammonds about the possibility of helping with this awesome research program. We are all excited about the great things that Dr. Hammonds and her team will do with this program at Harvard. We will be watching for news and will share it with all of you.

– Karson Baldwin

Meet our Presidents


Makensie McDaniel