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Published: Wednesday, 1/9/2013

Awards, events help Toledo honor King

BY CLYDE HUGHES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledoans joined others around the country in honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., yesterday with celebrations, programs, and services.

For the second time, more than 1,000 people attended two functions honoring the slain civil rights leader - one sponsored by the city's board of community relations, and the other by Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.

Ohio State Rep. Peter Lawson Jones (D., Shaker Heights) was the keynote speaker at the annual BCR breakfast at the University of Toledo's student union.

About 400 people attended the breakfast. Mr. Jones, who has fought in the Ohio House for a racial profiling bill requiring police to keep a record of each traffic stop officers make, said racial issues are more complex today.

“The [country] is more multicultural now than ever before,” he said. “We can't talk about just black and white.

“We have to include Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, and Arab-Americans. We can't be simplistic,” Mr. Jones said.

He said he normally spends holidays with his family, but he rarely turns down an invitation to speak on King Day, partly because of his parents.

Mr. Jones said his father, who played baseball in the Negro Leagues, was not allowed to play on his college team or in the Major Leagues because of race.

He said racial discrimination eventually forced his mother, who met his father at Ohio University, to transfer to Michigan State.

“If my parents would have given me the resentment they should have felt during that time, I would have been a racist,” Mr. Jones said. “Parents can give children many gifts, and they gave me the gift to give people a chance to be your friend or to become a foe.”

Mr. Jones said he plans to introduce his racial profiling bill in the House this year. He said he believes the majority of police officers are upholding the law, but the information that would be generated by a racial profiling law would be used to single out those who are targeting minorities.

Chief Mike Navarre, who attended the breakfast, said Toledo police are completing a policy in which officers record the race of each person an officer stops.

“I know there is a perception here in the city that it does go on,” Chief Navarre said. “We don't know if there is a problem until we have the data. I think we need the data to defend ourselves.

“If the data comes back and shows we have a problem, we'll address it,” the chief said.

Six hundred people crowded Indiana Missionary Baptist Church, 640 Indiana Ave., for the mayor's awards ceremony and luncheon.

Dr. Eugene Sanders, superintendent of Toledo Public Schools and keynote speaker at the mayor's luncheon, said he wanted to be a hands-on administrator and found out how that method can be successful during the fall's operating levy campaign.

“The last time we asked for money was in 1991, and we won by 125 votes,” Mr. Sanders said. “Last November, we won by 10,000 votes. This community understood the importance of our children and their impact on our community.”

The mayor honored six people for their contributions to the community, four posthumously.

Edrene Cole, a former Toledo Public Schools administrator, and Oscar B. Griffith, Sr., executive director of the Equal Opportunity Planning Association, received awards for their work.

Mrs. Cole and Mr. Griffith were honored along with Frances “Lady B” Belcher, a former radio broadcaster and publisher who died in 1963; the Rev. Harvey Savage, founder of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Kitchen for the Poor, who died in March; J.B. Simmons, Jr., the first African-American elected to city council, who died in 1991, and J. Frank Troy, former Toledo branch NAACP president and member of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, who died in 1980.

Among other events yesterday:

  • The Ghanaian Foundation's annual King's Oratorical Contest at the Hilton Hotel, 3100 Glendale Ave. Awards were given in the primary, intermediate, junior high, and high school divisions.

  • The Fremont branch of the NAACP held a march from the Sandusky County Courthouse to the Fremont Municipal Building.

  • The Toledo branch of the NAACP's Teen Jamboree at Club 300, 3304 Collingwood Blvd.

  • Baptist Ministers Conference of Toledo and Vicinity's annual King program at Jerusalem Baptist Church, 445 Dorr St. The Rev. Bobby Wilborn of Charity Baptist Church was keynote speaker.



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