Leaders from the Nation of Islam and the Black MARCHERS on Tuesday denounced Mayor Roxanne Qualls' decision not to grant a key to the city to Minister Louis Farrakhan.
Minister Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam and organizer of 1995's Million Man March, is scheduled to speak Thursday at the Regal Cincinnati Hotel. Black MARCHERS leader Nathaniel Livingston Jr. asked the mayor Aug. 26 to give Minister Farhan rakhan a key to the city. Ms. Qualls declined, citing his "history of public anti-Semitic statements."
To grant a key, Ms. Qualls wrote, "would send the wrong message to the community about the absolute need for civility, respect and tolerance toward all citizens and restraint in action and statements."
Vice Mayor Tyrone K. Yates backed the decision.
Mr. Livingston said he was disturbed by the mayor's decision, especially in light of honors given gay-rights activist Candace Gingrich and local radio talk-show host Bill Cunningham.
"Candace Gingrich Day" was declared in Cincinnati last fall when the half sister of House Speaker Newt Gingrich was in town. And Mr. Cunningham, who has been accused of making racially intolerant statements, was honored for March flood relief efforts.
"When the mayor says she can't distance the messenger from the message, she can't separate his so-called anti-Semitic statements from his good works, we have to ask, why was she able to separate Bill Cunningham and his statements from his works with the flood last year?" Mr. Livingston said.
"We say the mayor is setting a double standard."
Ms. Qualls said "days" in recognition of an individual are extremely common, with 491 proclaimed so far this year.
She also said she declined to give Mr. Cunningham a key to the city.