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Panelists Explore African-American Mayoral Leadership

CSU Presidential Forum Explores African-American Mayoral Leadership

The late Carl Stokes made history when he was elected mayor of Cleveland nearly a half-century ago, becoming the first African-American mayor of a major U.S. city.

His legacy was a focal point of the CSU Presidential Forum “Reflections on 50 Years of African-American Mayoral Leadership in the U.S.” on April 27 at Cleveland State University, where history’s tendency to repeat itself also was a key point of discussion.

The packed event in the CSU Student Center’s Glasscock Family Foundation Ballroom commenced with a keynote conversation featuring a pair of local luminaries with close ties to Stokes: CSU Professor Norman Krumholz and architect Robert Madison.

Also weighing in were David Stradling and Richard Stradling, co-authors of the new book Where the River Burned: Carl Stokes and the Struggle to Save Cleveland.

The second half of the program was a panel discussion featuring four current African-American mayors, including Mayor Frank Jackson of Cleveland. Joining him were Mayor Stephen Benjamin of Columbia, S.C.; Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, Ind.; and Mayor Tony Yarber of Jackson, Miss. Steve Phillips, board chair and co-founder of, moderated the discussion.

Get the full story on CSU’s ENGAGED blog.