It was more than 50 years ago when the esteem Rev. E.T. Caviness and his longtime friend and Rev. Hilton Smith met with the late civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in New Orleans to lay the foundation for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference(SCLC).
Last Friday on Jan. 13, Rev. Caviness and Rev. Smith hosted the 16 anniversary of the Cleveland SCLC at Greater Abyssinian Baptist Church and Caviness requested FirstEnergy’s CEO Chuck Jones to serve as the keynote speaker.
Jones had been attending a conference in Florida, but he accepted the invitation. Caviness told him that they just wanted him to speak and did not want any donation.
Jones, who is white, shared with the more than 200 in attendance how he benefited from the advantages of the color of his skin on his way to becoming the leader of one of the most power companies in the nation.
Elected officials such as County Executive Armond Budish, Judge Joan C. Synenberg, Judge Sherrie Miday, Councilman Zack Reed and Councilman Jeff Johnson were also in attendance.
However, throughout his life he has vowed to do all he could to make things better for people of color.
It was one of the most candid and powerful admissions and commitments that one could ever witness, but this is who Chick Jones is at his core.
He has embraced the responsibility that is not his and has steadfastly proceeded to make America a better place, to improve the economic and educational opportunities for Ohioans who live below the poverty line.
It could not have come at a more essential time, celebrating the 88th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King and relishing the event’s theme of “Keep moving amid every Obstacle, Keep moving amid Mountains of Opposition
Amid the presenting of the nation’s colors by the local Boy Scour Troop and the colorful and inspirational praise dancing that enhanced the evening, Jones keynote address was the icing on the cake.
Valerie Edith opened the ceremony and youngsters Stephen Brady (Invocation), Jordan Edith (Reflections of Dr. King) Azad Robinson (the Occasion) eloquently captured the essence of Dr. King.
Educator Terry Butler honored students Madison Reid and Dylen Graham for their outstanding contribution in an educational pursuit last October.
SCLC also recognized four outstanding Scholarship Recipients, three of which were away at School. Daisha Davis was present and Danced to “I Can Only Imagine” to represent her peers.
Gala Chairperson, Mary Davis, acknowledged the seven Unsung Heroes and Sheroes of the Community. Rev. Caviness who is SCLC/ Cleveland President), and SCLC Vice President Smith, presented awards.
The recipients included Marvelous Baker, Scholarship programs for the Cleveland Foundation; Stephanie Doibo, President of the Council of Black Nurses; Constance Trumbo Haqq, Director of Administration and External Affairs; Timothy Isaac, Sr., Founder of the Youth Empowerment Organization; LaToyia Jones, Founder of The Alive on Purpose Organization; Brenda Parks, Health Equity Director for the American Heart Association; and Rev. Dr. Stephen Rowan, Pastor of the year, from Bethany Baptist Church.
Dinner was served in Caviness Hall, a culinary delight served and prepared by Cateress Jackie Wright and Company, and music was provided by Kevin Conwell and the Footprints.