Rev. E.T. Caviness and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson
Seeking an unprecedented fourth term as mayor of Cleveland, native son Frank G. Jackson received the backing the most powerful clergy group in the city on Thursday March 30 at Greater Abyssinia Baptist Church.
Jackson first won election for mayor in 2005 when he became the first city council member since 1867 to become mayor, defeating incumbent Jane Campbell.
He was reelected again in 2009 and 2013 and he is expected to be hard to defeat in September for his fourth term.
However, the meeting hosted by the powerful Rev. E.T. Caviness and also included prominent Dr. Larry L. Macon, Sr. Senior Pastor of the Mt. Zion Church of Oakwood Village was attended by more than 200 clergy member representing vast regions of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.
“I want to get straight to the point. I am here to ask for your support,” asked Mayor Jackson to the applause of the audience.
“I was trying to think about what I was going to say to you after I asked for your support and the one thing that kept coming to my mind was how interesting the world is today, particularly this election in Cleveland that I imagine is the same kind thing that will happen all over this country and that is everybody is concerned about poor people now,” he continued. “Everybody is the champion of the least of us. The only question that I have is where have you been?”
“You need you know who this person is if you are going to give them your support and I don’t want you to support me because I am the Mayor of Cleveland, I really don’t. I don’t want you to support me because of a piece of literature, I don’t. I want you to support me because you believe that I am the right person right now for this job to do what is necessary.”
Jackson went on the tell the vast contingent that he was born and raised in Cleveland. He is the son of an African American father and an Italian mother.
He explained that he’s spent all of his life in the same neighborhood on 38th and Central.
Jackson recited a humble upbringing where he also lived on 83rd and Kinsman during a period when the city was segregated.
He went on to describe a community that was bustling with energy, beauty shops, movie theatres, grocery stores, nightclubs and hotels all up and down Central when they called it Quincy.
Back then they all went to school together and there was a culture that bound them together, and then along came integration and the Hough riots, urban renewal all elements that Jackson says busted up a community and attempted to undermine a culture of a people.
“Now what do we have? We have those who were able to go somewhere else or chose t go somewhere else, but what was left behind on Central where I still live was the poorest of the poor. The least of us, and the people who moved away and their children and grandchildren are afraid of the masses, and the masses don’t trust them,” he elaborated. “So here we are now in a vipercated world now trying to come together to address the issues and the needs of a people when we can’t see eye to eye with each other. We trust each other or we scared of one another.”
Jackson said this election is about what are you going to do for the poor? What are you going to do for the least of us?
“Again, I ask where have you been? I’m on 38th and Central and still there.”
Macon, who represents to influential United Pastors in Mission, explained that Mayor Jackson has always been accessible.
“We’ve never had a problem with communicating with him. We’ve never had a problem with having a conversation with him. His heart is right. His mind is right. His spirit is right. These are some critical times that we are living in, not only locally but also nationally. You got to have people like these who represent you. You have to have men and women like Mayor Frank Jackson. He’s never said now we can’t talk. He’s never said I door is closed. What he sees he sees. Sometimes we have to help him see some other things. He doesn’t have any problem with that, so these are the kind of days where we need to have local mayors inside of mayor ship who are willing to stand up for our causes and our problems,” stated Dr. Macon.
Macon credited Mayor Jackson for his creative ways in dealing with the city, but added; “ I want to say to the mayor that as a pastor and as a pastor leader we want to apologize to you because the truth of the matter is we have not done all that we can do. When we see problems in our city it’s not the mayor who cleans all of those problems up, it’s all of us.”