Brendan Whitt


Blought #16: How to Keep a Great City Great

This past Saturday I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Greater Cleveland chapter of the National Association of Black Journalist conference at Tri-C‘s auditorium. The NABJ hosted the conference, titled ‘Covering Comeback Cities. The list of speakers included  NBC WKYC-TV's Russ Mitchell, Fox-TV’s Charlie LeDuff of The Americans With Charlie LeDuff; Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge; Cleveland Mayor Frank L. Jackson; Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams; and Chuck Stokes, Detroit's WXYZ-TV Director of Editorial/Public Affairs and son of the late Mayor Louis

It was a great atmosphere for a young writer like myself  to network and make connections. It was also an opportunity to gauge where my city was headed. Before the first panel started  Mayor Frank Jackson took the podium to share a few words. He talked about how Cleveland has spent billions of dollars to upgrade the city and how that wouldn’t be enough. There is a cycle of “boom and decline” that has to be broken.  The Mayor finished up by saying that “A great city isn’t based on the billions spent. It is what we do for the least of it. We need to make prosperity available for all.”

I trusted Mayor Jackson after he said that, even though he couldn’t have cared less about meeting me until I mentioned we both graduated from Cleveland State. The first panel discussion focused on crime and included Calvin Williams, Chief of police Cleveland; Charlie Leduff, Pulitzer winner and the host of The Americans with Charlie Leduff, and Dr. Rhonda Y. Williams of Case Western Reserve University’s Social Justice Institute. The panel was moderated by Harry Boomer of CBS 19 News. From the first panel to the fifth and final panel, excluding Session 3 which talked about SEO and Periscope, there was a common theme I heard on every panel this past Saturday.

We need to focus on the poor and invest in our children. As a city made up of over 53% of Blacks and 10% Lationo or Hispanic, we need to pull together and get a handle on this crime. We need to protect our inner city communities and children from themselves and an unjust system favoring an opposite side. The seeds of education need to be planted at a very early age. We need to graduate more students,  64.3% versus a national average of 81% is unacceptable (as is having an 81% national average but that’s a rant for another day).

Basically what I’m trying to say is that in order to make sure Cleveland stays on the up and up then we have to invest in the future of Cleveland not monetarily, but socially. We don’t want this place to become a ghost town after the RNC. We want our city to thrive and become something we can pass down to our children’s children.