Saturday, August 18, 2001
Founder kicks off Reunion
Says event needed in Cincinnati
By Howard Wilkinson and Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer
No other place at no other time is more in need of a Black Family Reunion than Cincinnati, the civil rights pioneer who founded the event said Friday.
Dorothy Height, the 89-year-old president emeritus of the National Council of Negro Women who founded the Black Family Reunion in Washington, D.C., 16 years ago, was the guest of honor at a breakfast Friday kicking off Cincinnati's 13th annual reunion. Organizers expect the event to draw about 250,000 people this weekend.
With the violence, the tensions, and the struggles in this community, it is more important than ever that we gather together, Ms. Height said to a breakfast crowd of about 300 people.
We must heed the message that there is no one who is going to do for us what we must do for ourselves.
Ms. Height, who stepped down as president of the organization for black women two years ago after 41 years at its helm, was responsible for starting Cincinnati's Black Family Reunion, which had turned into a Midwest regional event.
She came here 13 years ago and sold the idea to city officials and executives of Procter & Gamble. The Cincinnati-based company became a major sponsor of the reunion.
Later Friday, Ms. Height spoke at a town meeting in Bond Hill to celebrate the first anniversary of WDBZ-AM (1230), a talk radio station which serves a predominantly black audience.
There, a panel of authors met to discuss male-female relationships in the black community.
But soon, the topic of Cincinnati's recent wave of violent crime became unavoidable.
One hundred shootings. What we need to understand is that those are our responsibility, said Tiy-E Muhammad, a professor of psychology at Clark Atlanta University and the author of Secrets Men Keep.
No one is born saying, "I want to be a player,' or "I want to be a gang-banger', or "I want to be a prostitute,' he said. If you're never taught how to be a woman, or how to be a man, it's not something you learn when you turn 18.
The recent unrest has prompted an unprecedented number of candidates for City Council, and many of them attended Friday night's event. Many more will attend candidates forums at Sawyer Point this weekend.
Indeed, there were so many politicians at the town meeting Friday night that WDBZ program director Lincoln Ware declared, We could have a City Council meeting right here.
But by the time the audience got its turn, most of the council candidates had left.
This is a tragedy, that you people have so much weighing on your heart about where you lay your heads, but none of those people who want to represent you will stay and listen, said Art Sims, a Chicago talk-show host who moderated the discussion.
The way you put fire to someone is to make him stand up before you vote for him.
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