DESTINY DARLINGS: Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge shows her support for retired judge Una Keenon during Rep. Fudge’s endorsement of Keenon for East Cleveland Mayor. Rep. Fudge and candidate Keenon are then joined by massive clergy organizations who have also pledge their support for Keenon in her bid to become the first elected woman and elected Black woman mayor of East Cleveland. (KENNETH D. MILLER/ PHOTOS)
It’s been more than 33 years since two aspiring Black lawyers broke with tradition to support the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s 1984 Democratic presidential bid, and on Tuesday Aug. 22 on the same street famous for millionaires row, United States Representative Marcia L. Fudge (D-11 Ohio) endorsed her friend retired Judge Una Keenon for East Cleveland Mayor.
“We’ve come to a point and time to where we have to go back to go forward,” said Rep. Fudge at Keenon’s campaign of on Euclid Ave. “There are a lot of people who want to be good elected officials, but some people are just called to be good public servants.”
Rep. Fudge acknowledged that she has known Keenon since law school, and declared; “She was called to just be a good public servant.”
The Congresswoman confessed the challenges of East Cleveland. “East Cleveland has had its challenges like many cities, but having been a mayor of a city (Warrensville Heights) full of people that look like us, I know what it takes.”
“I know better than most what it takes and Una Keenon has what it takes. It’s interesting that people call on those who have a great history. It means a lot when you have someone in place where you know their history, you know what they stand for.”
Keenon, was born in Nashville, Tennessee where she graduated from
Tennessee State University before obtaining Juris Doctor cum laude at Cleveland-Marshall Law School, 1975.
A former social worker in Tennessee and Cuyahoga County Welfare Department, she taught at Cleveland Board Education from 1960-1974 and then as a lawyer for Cleveland Legal Aid Society from 1975-1978.
Keenon was the attorney-in-charge juvenile division Public Defender from 1978-1980 and a partner for the prestigious law firm Johnson, Keenon & Blackmon from 1980-1983.
She was the managing attorney for United Auto Workers Legal Services from 1983-1986, then a Judge in East Cleveland Municipal Court. She was also the coordinator at juvenile project Criminal Justice Coordinator Committee in Cleveland from1976-1978.
Most recently she served as the President of the East Cleveland School Board.
“It is especially in this time that we get the right person for the right time and Judge Keenon is the right person for the right time“ added Rep. Fudge.
Rep. Fudge encouraged those in the jammed packed headquarters to vote like they have never voted before. “Because people understand when you vote and what your stand for.”
In addition to Rep. Fudge endorsement, Keenon has received the endorsement of prominent clergy organizations, many of them represented in attendance as she bids to become the first elected woman and elected Black woman to serve as East Cleveland Mayor.
“I want us to be at the point to where I can say I am proud to live in East Cleveland,” explained Keenon during her nine minute closing statement.
She has vowed to return banking, quality grocery stores, cafes, and restaurants, even restaurants “where we can sit outside like in the other cities.” “That’s what we should have in East Cleveland,” she demanded.
Her pledge to here constituents is to make a plan and work a plan.
“First, I will develop a transition team with persons from all walks of life, business owners, corporations and East Cleveland citizens, especially. I will work to build confidence and trust with our citizens and I will manage the city with our resources. We know who we are and we know what we have and what we can do, ” Keenon eloquently expressed.
East Cleveland is in a precarious situation. Despite two failed annex attempts by Cleveland in 1895 and 1911, there had been constant discussion about yet another one as recent as 2016.
However, Keenon, East Cleveland city council members and residents are steadfast about maintaining East Cleveland as its own city.
General Electric and its historical Nela Park, is among the final landmarks from its glory days of 1860 through 1920s when Euclid boasted Millionaire’s Row, and tycoon John D. Rockefeller called East Cleveland home.
The Great Depression wiped that all away, but what remains is hope.
Hope that springs internal for those who dare give up on the future of East Cleveland.
Shaw High School is a beacon of that hope, so too is Keenon, who on Tuesday got a boost from her long time friend who flew in from Georgia for a date with destiny with history hanging in the balance.