The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center announces its next major exhibition today, Mandela: The Journey to Ubuntu. The world premiere exhibition, opening Friday, March 24, is in partnership with Matthew Willman, a South African documentary photographer who was commissioned by The Nelson Mandela Foundation during the last 10 years of Mandela’s life. Admission for Mandela: The Journey to Ubuntu is $5.00 per person. The exhibition is sponsored by John and Francie Pepper, Macy’s, and ArtsWave.

Mandela: The Journey to Ubuntu commemorates the life and legacy of former South African President Nelson Mandela through photographs by Willman as he revisited many of the locations that had played an important role in South Africa’s route to racial equality and Mandela’s personal fight for freedom. Visitors will travel throughout South Africa with Mandela via Willman’s camera lens: Mvezo Village, Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Robben Island. The exhibit will also feature artifacts from Mandela’s life on loan to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center from The Nelson Mandela Foundation.

“Apartheid broke apart the very fabric of our society using the barriers of race and gender to isolate and divide. It created an inferiority complex that even today, we as a country are still working to overcome,” says Willman. “Yet, it is this ‘Spirit of Ubuntu’ that exists within all Africans who choose every day to aspire to the highest ideals that this man, Nelson Mandela, laid out for us to achieve. Ubuntu discovers in each of us our calling to begin to move together, to realize our inter-connectedness and our responsibility to each other.”

From humble beginnings, to a life dedicated to resistance, Mandela: The Journey to Ubuntu tells the story of a young South African boy who became a man prepared to die in the name of equality, justice, and freedom. This exhibition provides a platform for a sharing of values so richly present in Mandela’s life to understand the role forgiveness, leadership, truth, and sacrifice play in overcoming the challenges we face in society today.

“We are not far removed from the era of Apartheid in South Africa,” says Dr. Clarence G. Newsome, President of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “Mandela's ‘long walk to freedom’ in 1990 altered the course of history in South Africa and the world. His courage, resistance, perseverance, and ability to forgive made him a global icon. We are honored to share his story and commemorate his legacy.”

The exhibit opens the public on Friday, March 24 at 11 a.m. Admission for the exhibit is $5 per person. 

Robin Givens. Photo provided

Cincinnati State’s new Be Great High School Grant program is taking aim at a financial challenge that keeps many low-income students from attending college.

Cincinnati State President Monica Posey and CPS Superintendent Mary Ronan were joined at a press conference February 21 at Cincinnati State by two Withrow High Schools Students to unveil the new Be Great Grant Program for low-income CPS students

That challenge is the gap that often occurs between the standard financial aid students receive (federal and state aid, and scholarships) and the total cost of tuition and books. For many low-income students, those gaps, even if they are in the hundreds of dollars, may as well be canyons.

The new Be Great Grants will provide low-income graduates of the Cincinnati Public Schools who attend Cincinnati State on a full-time basis with up to $1,000 for tuition and $1,000 for books to help fill gaps beyond their financial aid.

Seventy-five percent of the 14,500-plus students enrolled in CPS high schools are economically disadvantaged, according to data from the Ohio Department of Education. However, in 11 of the 15 CPS high schools for which data is available, that percentage soars to more than 98 percent economically disadvantaged.

 “This program will make college possible for many CPS students who might not otherwise be able to pursue a degree,” said Dr. Monica Posey, president of Cincinnati State. “This is also about the future of our region. We must provide students with opportunities to develop the skills needed by employers.”

The Cincinnati State Foundation is providing funds to support the Be Great Grant program, which takes effect beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year. Any student graduating from a CPS high school who qualifies for a federal Pell Grant and who attends Cincinnati State on a full-time, degree-seeking basis will be eligible for a Be Great Grant.

 ‘We’re very excited about this new college grant opportunity for our students,” said Mary Ronan, superintendent for the Cincinnati Public Schools. “While a large majority of CPS graduates are eligible for college financial assistance through federal programs, sometimes that’s not sufficient to overcome all the financial barriers.”

The Be Great Grant program is a key component in Cincinnati State’s efforts to partner with local high schools and four-year colleges to create affordable pathways for students to earn college degrees at both the associate and bachelor level.

For example, Cincinnati State is also working closely with CPS to expand the College Credit Plus program, which allows high school students to earn college credits while still in high school, jumpstarting their education while further reducing the cost of earning a college degree.

And on Feb. 10, Cincinnati State and the University of Cincinnati announced a new transfer agreement through which students who are pursuing bachelor’s degree can save more than $13,000, enough to pay for a full year of tuition and books at UC.

In addition, students receiving Be Great grants who complete a two-year degree at Cincinnati State and continue their education in a degree program at University of Cincinnati will also be eligible for a similar grant from UC called the Cincinnati Pride Grant.

To qualify for a Be Great Grant, students and their parents or guardians will need to complete a free Cincinnati State Admissions Application and a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), help for which can be provided by the Cincinnati State Educational Opportunity Center.

Once a student’s FAFSA is complete and her or his federal, state and institutional aid have been determined, the Be Great grants kick in to cover any gaps in tuition and book costs.

Students, parents and high school counselors interested in learning more about the Be Great High School Grant program can contact Tammie Larkins, Cincinnati State College Representative, at 513-569-1470, or at

Robin Givens, television, film and stage actress and long-time advocate for those facing the challenges of domestic violence, will keynote the 38th Annual YWCA Career Women of Achievement Luncheon to be held Wednesday, May 10 at Duke Energy Convention Center.

The event honors eight women from the Cincinnati region as Career Women of Achievement for their personal career success, leadership qualities and status as role models for all women. The YWCA also awards two educational scholarships: the Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship presented by Kroger to an African American high school senior, and the Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Scholarship, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee, awarded to an eligible YWCA program participant.  

Past Career Women of Achievement honorees Mary Miller, CEO and co-owner, of JANCOA Janitorial Services, Inc., and Liza D. Smitherman, Vice President of Professional Development for Jostin Construction, Inc. and Partner in Brewster Pumping, LLC, are event co-chairs.  Funds raised provide direct support to YWCA community programs that serve more than 34,000 women, men and families, including domestic violence shelters, youth services, racial justice programming, job training and literacy education. Corporate and organizational sponsorships are available, and individual tickets are $85. Call (513) 241-7090 or visit for more information.

Robin Givens began her acting career in 1985 with an appearance on the Cosby Show. The following year, she landed her breakthrough role as Darlene Merriman on the hit ABC series Head of the Class (1986-1991). In 1989, she co-starred with Oprah Winfrey in the miniseries The Women of Brewster Place. Givens then starred in a critically acclaimed role in A Rage in Harlem (1991) with Forest Whitaker, Danny Glover & Gregory Hines; Boomerang opposite Eddie Murphy in 1992; Foreign Student (1992) and Blankman with Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier (1994).

In 2008, Givens worked with Tyler Perry on his film The Family That Preys with Kathy Bates and on his TBS series House of Payne. Givens’ extensive stage acting included a successful stint on Broadway in the leading role of Roxie Hart in the Broadway production of Chicago and in the Off-Broadway production of The Vagina Monologues. Robin recently garnered rave reviews and the coveted ‘Image Award’ for her starring role in the acclaimed production of Blues for an Alabama Sky.She has written and directed her very own Original Musical Joy in the Morning.  In 2007, she published her first book, Grace Will Lead Me Home which will be re-released with an updated forward this Spring.  

Herald Contributor

New Edgecliff Theatre joins a long tradition of productions of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” utilizing casts of color.

In this 20th century “memory play”, we see the Wingfield family caught up in a painful struggle between illusion and reality, and the means employed by each of them to escape that struggle. Originally conceived by Williams in 1944 as a Depression-era dysfunctional white family, the play has nonetheless been frequently staged with African-American or multi-ethnic casts – the first being a production by the Howard Players at Howard University in 1947.  

In Philip C. Kolin’s article “Black and Multi-Racial Productions of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie”, he states, “Black and multi-ethnic productions of The Glass Menagerie…liberate the subtext from racially-imposed constraints.” He goes on to say, “In fact, I have argued that it is only through a production of a Williams play with an all-Black cast that certain dimensions of the subtext can be realized and released.” 

NET Producing Artistic Director Jim Stump explains why he was compelled to further explore this approach: “Last year I was listening to an interview with a sociologist about a book she had written. It was a history of the matriarchal single-parent African American family.  It discussed, among other things, the separation of family members during slavery, the need to travel great distances for work in the antebellum era, and the disassociation of many soldiers returning from war in the first half of the Twentieth Century.  As she was discussing fracturing of the African American family during this time, it made me think of the family in Tennessee Williams’ ‘The Glass Menagerie’.  The more I considered it, the more I realized this story could have been about any family, regardless of cultural background.  And with recent events in American society, I thought it was more important to present a story that would make audiences think about the concerns we all share – family, happiness, success – rather than one that reinforces our differences.”

Taking the helm in this production will be NKU professor Daryl Harris (recently named a Fulbright Specialist), who returns after directing two previous NET productions: Athol Fugard’s “Master Harold…and the boys” and David Mamet’s “Race”.  The cast will feature Talia Brown, Landon E. Horton, Keisha Kemper and Andrew Ornelas.  Of Harris, Stump says, “Once I settled on this approach, my first call was to Daryl Harris.  His passion for storytelling and his background in multi-cultural performance was the ideal combination for a project like this.”

In the play, Amanda Wingfield is a faded, tragic remnant of Southern gentility, living in poverty in a dingy St. Louis apartment with her son, Tom, and her daughter, Laura. Amanda strives to give meaning and direction to her life and the lives of her children, though her methods are ineffective and irritating. Tom is driven nearly to distraction by his mother's nagging and seeks escape in alcohol and the world of the movies. Laura also lives in her illusions. She is crippled, and this defect, intensified by her mother's anxiety to see her married, has driven her more and more into herself.

About the play: Amanda Wingfield is a faded, tragic remnant of Southern gentility, living in poverty in a dingy St. Louis apartment with her son, Tom, and her daughter, Laura. Amanda strives to give meaning and direction to her life and the lives of her children, though her methods are ineffective and irritating. Tom is driven nearly to distraction by his mother's nagging and seeks escape in alcohol and the world of the movies. Laura also lives in her illusions. She is crippled, and this defect, intensified by her mother's anxiety to see her married, has driven her more and more into herself. The crux of the action comes when Tom invites a young man of his acquaintance to take dinner with the family. Jim, the caller, is a nice ordinary fellow who is at once pounced upon by Amanda as a possible husband for Laura. In spite of her crude and obvious efforts to entrap the young man, he and Laura manage to get along very nicely, and momentarily Laura is lifted out of herself into a new world. But this crashes when, toward the end, Jim explains that he is already engaged. The world of illusion that Amanda and Laura have striven to create in order to make life bearable collapses about them. Tom, too, at the end of his tether, at last leaves home.

A drama of great tenderness, charm and beauty, “The Glass Menagerie” is one of the most famous plays of the modern theatre.

About the Director:  Daryl Harris is a 40-year veteran of traditional, experimental, applied and educational theatre. He has studied and worked as a producer, writer, director, actor, costume designer, professor and lecturer throughout the United States, Canada, Scandinavia, West Africa, China and Australia. In addition to teaching diverse interdisciplinary theatre courses, Harris' work involves multicultural programming and projects that link the Underground Railroad Movement to the fields of theatre and dance, connecting themes emerging from the Movement to current social problems in ways that promote understanding and greater social harmony.  Mr. Harris holds a B.A. from The University of Southern Mississippi, a M.F.A. from The University of Southern Mississippi and a Ph.D. from The University of Alabama.  He was recently named a Fulbright Specialist.

About the Fulbright Program (from the Kentucky Tribune): Northern Kentucky University professor Dr. Daryl Harris has been selected for the Fulbright Specialists program, a five-year appointment during which he will act as an expert consultant for other universities across the globe.
A writer, director, costume designer, and actor who has worked on nearly every continent, Harris will take his expertise to other educational institutions, helping to teach students and assisting faculty in developing curriculum.
Harris is an associate professor of performance art at NKU’s School of the Arts, which is part of the College of Arts and Sciences. He specializes in multicultural programming and linking theatre to other disciplines, and teaches his students that theatre is about more than acting.
“Theatre helps students gain confidence when speaking, to think broadly by finding multiple solutions to a problem, and to develop the ability to think quickly on one’s feet. These lessons can be applied to many fields,” he said.
The prestigious Fulbright Specialists Program pairs prominent U.S. faculty and professionals with academic institutions around the world in need of their expertise. Appointments to the program are peer-reviewed and approved by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FFSB). The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
The program is designed to build relationships among U.S. faculty and professionals and their peers in more than 140 nations who participate in the program. That includes helping train foreign faculty, hosting seminars and lectures, organizing workshops, and helping develop curriculum.

About the Cast

Talia Brown (Laura) is ecstatic to be in her first production with New Edgeliff Theatre. She is currently a junior at Northern Kentucky University where she is working toward her BFA in Acting.  She has performed in several productions at NKU, including “Undraped”, “The Wedding Story”, and “The Bacchae”.

Landon E. Horton (Jim) is from Louisville and is currently finishing his BFA in Playwriting at NKU. He has previously appeared with New Edgecliff Theatre in "Master Harold and the Boys" (also directed by Daryl Harris) as Willie in 2007. He has performed in a variety of shows, such as "Of Mice and Men” as Crooks, "Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom" as Cutler, and "BlackTop Sky" as Wynn. He is overjoyed to be working with the great Daryl Harris and New Edgecliff Theatre once again.

Keisha Kemper (Amanda): A Cincinnati native, Keisha graduated from Withrow High School. She has a B.S. degree from the University of Toledo, Master of Education degree in Health Education from the University of Cincinnati (UC) and has earned her BFA in Dramatic Performance from CCM.  Keisha is also a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

Keisha has performed as Harry in Harry and the Thief at the Know Theatre of Cincinnati, with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra during a performance of Prokofiev's Suite from Romeo and Juliet as the Chorus/Nurse, with The Burying Beetles in Revolting Circumstances as Carolyn/Prophet, and Radio Gomorrah LIVE! as Typhoon in the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. She has also appeared in original works with RoJo Productions, Jewel Entertainment Group, & God's Champion Entertainment.  As a student at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music (CCM), Keisha performed as Tituba in The Crucible, Antonia in Pentecost, Gilly, Witch #3 and Victim in Living Dead in Denmark and as Caithness in Macbeth. 

Keisha proudly served in the U.S. Army as a Health Physics Technician (91SN4). Her Basic Training was held at Fort Jackson, SC and her job training (AIT) at Fort Sam Houston, TX.

Keisha has over 10 years of Healthcare experience as an Exercise Physiologist specializing in Cardiac Rehabilitation and Cardiology. As an Exercise/Fitness Specialist, she worked in a Corporate Health Department providing health screenings and education to workers across Cincinnati.

Andrew Ornelas (Tom) is incredibly excited to be playing Tom. He hopes to bring this beautiful character to life and create a unique world on stage. Andrew is currently a senior at Northern Kentucky University pursuing a Bachelor’s in Theatre and Creative Writing. When not acting at NKU or around it, Andrew enjoys directing and playwriting. This coming semester has many exciting things in store for him and he is beyond thankful!

This architectural team will lead the design and construction of Obama Presidential Center in Chicago. Photo provided

Nearly 1,000 people attended Black Agenda Cincinnati’s 2nd Annual Black History Month Community Lecture Series at Zion Baptist Church at Zion Baptist Church on February2, with speaker Roland Martin, host and editor of TV One’s “NewsOne Now’’ (shown on podium and in inset) providing direction for a Black agenda. Photo by Michael Mitchell

Project Nehemiah announce Gun Buy Back, Black Male Factor kickoff

During its 16-year history, Classical Roots has grown from a small concert series in African American churches into a diverse city-wide community of music lovers coming together to celebrate African American musical traditions with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The Classical Roots community connects people of different backgrounds through a wildly popular spring concert, often joined by notable guests who embody the African American musical experience. Last year’s special guest was hip-hop artist, Common. At the center of Classical Roots is the all-volunteer Classical Roots Community Mass Choir (CRCMC), led by Conductor William H. Caldwell. The 150-member choir consists of members representing over 50 churches with support from volunteer choral music leaders, clergy leadership and partners. The program also enables churches to raise funds for their programs. This year’s Classical Roots Concert will take place at Crossroads Community Church on Friday, May 5.

E. Selean Holmes was recently hired for the seasonal position of Classical Roots Coordinator. Reporting to Charmaine Moore, Manager of Community Engagement & Diversity, Holmes is responsible for assisting with the management of CRCMC and the entire CSO production team while maintaining the schedule and communications, rehearsal venue set-up and music distribution. She will also use her archival skills to serve as the music librarian. In the 1990’s Holmes was a guest on the classical music radio station, WGUC 90.9 FM and also appeared in their newsletter. “I’m elated to return to the arts,” said Holmes whose background includes holding the titles of Chief Curator, Director, Manager, Visual Artist and Consultant in museums and other institutions.

Since 1985, her work has centered on helping others appreciate the rich history, art and culture of African Americans, including musical history. Holmes’ creative energies were manifested at the National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center (Ohio), Smith College Mwangi Cultural Center (New England), Cincinnati Museum Center, Nat’l Underground Railroad Freedom Center, DuSable Museum (Chicago), Northwestern University School of Continuing Studies, Arts & Exhibitions International and Tavis Smiley’s America I AM Project (Los Angeles). Her extensive travel experience for work and leisure led to visiting several West African countries, Italy, British Columbia and multiple trips to Bermuda, where she assisted with the founding of its first Black Heritage Museum. As a curator she traveled extensively across America collecting artifacts and delivering presentations. Citing Yale University as her most memorable educational summer experience, she also attended Knoxville College and is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati. Holmes is the recipient of numerous awards for her work in cultural education and currently spends her time tutoring youth at the Envision Children program while also managing various consulting projects, and is a member of Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church.

“Working for the fifth oldest symphony in the U.S. with 3 regional awards for outstanding work in diversity under their belt, is an honor.” Holmes commented.For more information on the program visit

Judge Tyrone K. Yates has donated three of the rarest first edition printings of books by John F. Kennedy to Harvard Library. The gifts were delivered to mark the 53rd anniversary of JFK’s assassination and two of the books arrived exactly on November 22, 2016. Mr. Yates, a municipal court judge for Hamilton County (Ohio) and former Democratic member of the Ohio House of Representatives (33rd District), is currently writing a book on the admission of James H. Meredith to the University of Mississippi during the Kennedy administration. Yates began collecting materials related to John F. Kennedy as he conducted research on his book. He has donated similar items and memorabilia to the Tyrone K. Yates/John F. Kennedy Collection at the University of Mississippi, the University of Cincinnati College of Law Rare Book Room, the Rare Book Room of the Hamilton County Public Library, the Library of Congress, and the John F. Kennedy Library.

“John F. Kennedy and John Quincy Adams, sons of Harvard, have inspired my career and public service,” Yates said. His first visit to Widener Library was in 1986 while studying in an Executive Program at Harvard Law School. He also completed an Executive Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and attended the historic Christ Episcopal Church during his time in Cambridge.

The three donated books represent a broad spectrum of Kennedy’s legacy as an author. As We Remember Joe is written as a tribute to Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. U.S.N.R., the eldest Kennedy brother who was killed in action in World War II. There are only 360 copies of this book printed in the first edition and only 250 copies in the second printing. Why England Slept is a version of a thesis JFK wrote as a Harvard College senior and was published in 1940. The book critiques England’s foreign policy and inability to prevent World War II. It is the first edition at Harvard Library to contain its original dust jacket. The third book, A Nation of Immigrants, was published in 1959. It presents a history of American immigration, explores policy suggestions on the topic of immigration reform and underscores the importance of immigrants in shaping American life and culture.

Mr. Yates received a B.A. degree in history from the University of Cincinnati (1978) and a J.D. from the University of Toledo College of Law (1981). He is a former Student Representative to the Board of Trustees at the University of Cincinnati and former member of the governing board of the University of Toledo College of Law. He was also selected twice to serve as Vice-Mayor of Cincinnati and served as a member of the Cincinnati City Council from 1990 to 1999.

 RJ Mitte. Provided

CHICAGO – The Obama Foundation announced that it has selected the architectural team of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners (TWBTA) and Interactive Design Architects (IDEA) to lead the effort to design the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago’s mid-South Side.

The Center will include a library holding the Presidential archives, a museum focusing on the Obama Presidency and issues of our time, and space for programs and initiatives that advance the Foundation’s public mission.

“We are thrilled to announce the selection of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners to lead the design team for the Obama Presidential Center, and that they will partner with Interactive Design Architects as they begin this exciting project. Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners stood out in their commitment to exploring, together with the Foundation, the best ways of creating an innovative center for action that inspires communities and individuals to take on our biggest challenges. Interactive Design Architects brings local knowledge and a track record for delivering excellence to large, complex civic projects,” said Martin Nesbitt, chairman of the Obama Foundation.

The architect’s proposal demonstrated a genuine commitment to also carefully balance an understanding and respect for the history and potential of the South Side, the Olmstead and Vaux-designed park setting and Chicago’s overall architectural legacy,” said Robbin Cohen, executive director of the Obama Foundation. “Together with these two firms, we look forward to building a Center that is a place for ever-evolving, innovative programming.”

Located in the city where a young organizer once inspired his community to take action, the Obama Presidential Center will seek to inspire citizens across the globe to better their communities, their countries, and their world.

The Center will tell President Obama's story in ways no other presidential library or museum has. And perhaps more importantly, it will deliver on the President's timeless idea that ordinary people can gather together and make change.

   The center will:

  - Inform visitors about our civic rights and responsibilities and inspire citizens to get engaged.

  - Empower individuals who are leading change around the world, and help develop new ways to enable all citizens to take action.

  - Connect people from different communities and disciplines to create new approaches to solving our biggest challenges.

  - Translate new ideas into concrete actions that will have a measurable impact, enlisting partners across all

Girl Scout Cookies arrive by the millions

City Councilman Charlie Winburn he passed up an opportunity to run for Cincinnati mayor due to “serious needs in both my public and private life that I could not serve if I jumped into a long and demanding campaign.”

The deadline for filing for the mayoral primary was Thursday, February 16.

In an announcement released that same day, Winburn said, “I have been overwhelmed over the last month by the outpouring of support and encouragement from countless Cincinnatians and friends around the region, but after careful reflection and prayer, I have decided not to run for mayor of Cincinnati. I want to thank the new friends I’ve made throughout this time and the media for always giving me a platform to speak for the citizens of Cincinnati and fight to make Cincinnati a better place.’’

He said he decided not to run several months ago, but after strong urging from my friends and supporters, I began to reconsider my decision.

“I plan on continuing my service on council and aggressively pursuing priorities I have laid out for the city, including passing a structurally balanced budget, moving our police officers out of the deplorable conditions of District 5, and establishing an office of Inspector General in the city to ensure all city employees and public officials receive fair and just treatment under the law.

“I also intend to spend more time with my wife and family. My wife Coleen continues to fight her battle against breast cancer and it is important to both of us that I am by her side throughout the entire process.

“I am immensely grateful for the love and support I’ve received since considering my decision the same love and support I’ve received since beginning my time as a public official 25 years ago.”

The African American Chamber and The Cincinnati Herald present the 2017 BRIGHT Awards Luncheon

Single Tickets or Tables of 10

Project Nehemiah (PN) Ceasefire, the Westwood community, Faith-based leaders, Christ Church Cathedral and other community partners and leaders announced February 17 at Church of the Living God, 434 Forest Ave, the first Gifts for Guns-Gun Buy Back event of 2017 and its Black Male Factor kickoff, both part of the Ceasefire Stop the Violence campaign.

 The Gifts for Guns – Gun Buy Back was on Monday, February 20 at Truth and Destiny Covenant Ministries Fellowship UCC, 2645 W. North Bend Road. The Black Male Factor kickoff was Sunday, February at the Church of the Living God.

 “Guns continue to end up in the hands of our youth, often our young Black males, who end up taking lives and destroying their own lives. Anything we can do to save even one life or just one our young Black men, we will do,” said Pastor Ennis F. Tait, executive director of Project Nehemiah. “We can’t just keep talking about what we should or are going to do, we have to act. Our goal is to meet our young men right where they are, mentor and train them, while at the same time getting as many guns as possible out of homes and off the streets that could potentially be used to commit a crime or cause injury to innocent children,” said Pastor Tait.

The Gifts for Guns -Gun Buy Back is designed to encourage individuals to bring operable hand guns from their homes and neighborhoods in exchange for $100 gift cards as well as, $50 gift cards for the exchange of rifles and shotguns. Gift cards are purchased from Walmart and Kroger with donations from concerned individuals, private donors and churches throughout the area. “We are in need of more donations,” said Pastor Tait. “This is a city-wide, cross county and multi-cultural issue that needs the support (financially and otherwise) of all who make up the tri-state area.”

The Black Male Factor movement is new initiative to lift the spirit of the Black male, ages 8-18, in our community, one young man at a time. We are asking fathers, mother, grandfathers and grandmothers, uncles and aunts to bring their sons, grandsons, nephews and neighbors to be encouraged and empowered. Each male participant will be mentored, trained and empowered to become strong men of leadership, honor, service, integrity and character.

The Project Nehemiah Stop the Violence campaign was established as one of many efforts to combat and address the senseless gun violence that is plaguing the city of Cincinnati. The people of the community must unite and work together to stand up against the apathy and the violence that is destroying our city.

Project Nehemiah is a not for profit outreach ministry of the Church of the Living God whose mission is to rebuild family, faith and community. For more information regarding the Gun Buy Back or the Black Male Factor, or to become a donor or become part of the Project Nehemiah Ceasefire efforts, please call (513) 569-5664. All donations should be made payable to Project Nehemiah c/o Ceasefire. All gifts and donations are tax deductible.  Gifts should be mailed or delivered to Project Nehemiah, 430 Forest Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229.

Judge Tyrone K. Yates. Photo provided

Daddy Daughter Dinner Dance grandfather wins Mercedes ride

YMCA of Greater Cincinnati names Jorge Perez new president and CEO

Roland Martin provides guidelines for successful Black agendas to 1,300 at Black Agenda lecture

Obama Foundation plans Presidential Center in Chicago

Holmes joins Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s Classical Roots Program

COLUMBUS— The lead Democratic member on the state transportation budget panel, state Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati), announced she will offer proposed law changes to the state transportation budget to remove the controversial front license plate requirement in Ohio.

Reece has pushed for the removal of the front license plate during her time in the legislature, contending the requirement arbitrarily and unfairly subjects citizens to police scrutiny, increased costs and negative interactions with law enforcement. The Cincinnati lawmaker also finds the state law problematic since neighboring Kentucky lacks a similar requirement.

“Every day that we allow this baseless law to exist is one more day drivers from Kentucky have more rights on our roads than we do,” said Reece. “Not only does this law cost taxpayers more money while creating confusion in border communities, but it only serves as an excuse to pull people over and in the case of Sam DuBose - cost a life." Unarmed motorist DuBose was fatally shot by University of Cincinnati Police Department Officer Ray Tensing after being pulled over in 2015 for not having a front license plate.

Reece also proposed to the GOP-controlled panel that the state reduce the violation of lacking a front license plate to a secondary offense – one that doesn’t give police the right to stop a motorist.

The House Finance Subcommittee on Transportation decides whether Reece’s proposed law changes are included in its final version of the state transportation budget.

All of Ohio’s neighboring states – in addition to some 14 others – don’t require front license plates. The additional plate costs taxpayers about $1.4 million per year, according to Ohio Department of Public Safety estimates.

Announce tuition, book grants for low-income CPS grads who attend Cincinnati State

Keisha Kemper as Amanda, Talia Brown as Laura, Andrew Ornelas as Tom and Landon Horton as Jim in New Edgecliff Theatre production of The Glass Menagerie.

Photo caption: E. Selean Holmes, CSO Classical Roots Coordinator

City’s minority, women business contracts soar

From left, former Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin, retired banker and author John W. Harshaw, attorney Alphonse Gerhardstein, and retired school principal Gwendolyn Ivory Robinson were inducted into the Legendary Lions Society during the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio’s 68th Annual Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Hotel downtown on February 10

Candidate forums set for Mayoral Primary

Chatfield College in St. Martin, Ohio and Cincinnati’s OTR neighborhood has announced the appointment of DeAnna Hoskins to its Board of Trustees. 

Hoskins is the Senior Policy Advisor for Corrections & Re-entry for the United States Department of Justice.  She received an Associate Degree from Chatfield College, a Bachelor’s Degree from Mt. St. Joseph University, and a Master’s Degree from the University of Cincinnati.  She currently serves on the Justice Roundtable, the Civil Rights Commission, the National Coalition for Homeless, all in Washington, D.C., and is active with JustLeadership USA in New York, NY.

“As an alumna of Chatfield College, who encountered many of the same challenges that current students experience, I am pleased to be in a position to instill hope in Chatfield students and impact policy and procedures,” said Hoskins.

Chatfield College is a private, Catholic, liberal arts college offering the Associate of Arts degree in St. Martin and Cincinnati.  The Cincinnati campus is at 1544 Central Parkway.

Candidates for Cincinnati mayor will be appearing in three public forums.

On Tuesday, March 7, at 6:30 p.m., James Temple Church of God in Christ at 1116 Lincoln Avenue Cincinnati, has scheduled a candidates’ forum for the May 2017 City of Cincinnati Mayoral Primary Election.

An invitation was respectfully extended to all other candidates for May 2017 Mayoral Primary Election which includes Mayor John Cranley, Cincinnati Councilwoman Yvette Simpson and Robert E. Richardson, Jr. The public is invited to attend and meet the candidates and hear what these candidates are offering, said Ishton W. Morton, president of James Temple Church of God in Christ Trustee’s Board. 

This event will be officiated by Courtis Fuller of WLWT TV5 News. Please secure a listing of topical issues that you may wish to discuss.

For additional information, contact Pastor Joel Christopher James at 513-221-3277.

On March 9 and April 6, the mayoral candidates will appear at forums at 6 p.m. on both dates at Woodward High School at Reading Road and Seymour Avenue in Bond Hill. These events are hosted by Black Agenda Cincinnati.

Judge Yates donates rare books written by John F. Kennedy to Harvard Library

Free Center exhibit commemorates the life and legacy of Mandela

By Dan Yount

The Cincinnati Herald

“Phenomenal,” “amazing,’’ “unprecedented” were words City officials used to describe the progress made over the past year in economic inclusion of minority-owned and women-owned small businesses in obtaining City contracts during an update on the City’s Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise Program.

Mayor John Cranley said minority and women owned business contracting by the City ranged from 2 to 3 percent four years ago, but is now at 17.4 percent due to the economic inclusion push.

In year one, substantial progress has been made in achieving program goals including a sharp increase in minority and women-owned business (MBE/WBE) contracting overall when compared with previous years, he said.

Additionally, the City reports that in 2016:

•      The City awarded nearly a quarter, 24.85 percent, of outside expenditures with MBE/WBE firms.

•      $36.2 million was awarded to MBE/WBE firms.

•      The MBE 17.44 percent award percentage surpassed the program goal.

•      $8.2 million was awarded to MBE/WBE firms by contractors working on City sponsored economic development projects in 2016.  An additional $16.5 million has been committed for award in 2017.  

•      The City certified a total of 205 firms as MBE, MWBE or WBE.

“This is a vision that has become a reality,’’ said Paul Booth, a chair of the Task Force for Economic Inclusion that was formed by Mayor John Cranley in 2015 to create more opportunities in City contracting work for minorities and women business owners. “This is a milestone for economic inclusion here. We are not where we were, but we also are not where we need to be. I would like thank Mayor John Cranley, City Manager Harry Black, City Director of Community Affairs Bridget Patton, former Department of Economic Inclusion Director Thomas Corey, and the Task Force members who spent many hours on this.’’

Vincent Brown, managing partner of BRBS World, a consulting company what has provided guidance for the City's economic inclusion initiative, said many of the 37 recommendations made by the Task Force for Economic Inclusion have been implemented. “We want the City to be the best of the best in economic inclusion,’’ he added.

Brown noted that 80 MBE/WBE firms are now registered with the City, and the Department of Economic Inclusion is engaging neighborhoods and forming partnerships.

Per the Disparity Study published in July 2015, the City was proven to have a past pattern of discrimination in contracting specifically related to Minority and Women Owned Businesses. In response, on January 1, 2016, City established the Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise Program and added a Department of Economic Inclusion.

Combining City procurement and leveraging of developer commitments, in 2016 the City helped secure $52.8 million in MBE/WBE commitments, of which $36.2 million was specifically awarded in 2016 (the balance will be awarded as the projects proceed).

This year the City awarded nearly a quarter, 24.85 percent, of its outside expenditures with MBE/WBE firms. The total 2016 MBE/WBE award including prime and subcontracting participation was $27.9 million. Of that amount, $19.6 million (17.44 percent) was awarded to MBEs and $8.3 million (7.41 percent) was awarded to WBEs across all contract types. 

During 2016, total City contract awards of $112.5 million were approved by the City Manager’s Procurement Review Team for award with mandatory inclusion goals and/or to an MBE or WBE prime contractor, or were MSD awards which included City-certified MBE and WBE subcontractors.

Also, the City works with developers to establish MBE and WBE goal commitments for City-sponsored economic development (construction) contracts that are not subject to mandatory inclusion goals. For these economic development projects, the City engages the developer to voluntarily commit to inclusion goals per project.

To date, City-sponsored economic development projects achieved a developer MBE/WBE commitment of $24.8 million, with $8.2 million already awarded in 2016 ($8.1 million MBE/$174,950 WBE). The remaining $16.5 million ($10.5 million MBE/$6 million WBE) committed will be awarded this year, providing a significant head start in 2017 versus 2016.

       This, when added to the $27.9 million awarded through the City’s in 2016, totals $36.2 million (prime/subcontract) awarded to MBE/WBE firms in 2016. When the remaining 2016 developer commitments are factored in with the 2016 amounts already awarded, the total amount generated in 2016 is $52.8 million.

In the first year of the MBE/WBE program, through vigorous outreach and engagement activities, the City has registered 205 MBE, MWBE and WBE firms. This is a critical step because without certified vendors able to do the work the success achieved to date will not be sustained. The Department of Economic Inclusion continues to engage through several outreach efforts to encourage businesses to apply for City MBE, and especially WBE certification.

Cranley said the numbers will only continue to grow. The key, however, is to certify as many firms as possible.

City Manager Black, added, “This represents a strong foundation for future success. I am certain that with the City’s continued commitment this only represents the beginning in making Cincinnati a city whose diversity in contracting matches its tremendous diversity in population.’’   

After a nationwide search, the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati Board of Directors named Jorge Perez as the new president of the leading nonprofit organization that operates 14 branches, one overnight camp and 80 childhood learning centers across Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.   He will be the first Latino-American to lead the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati in its 164-year history of offering programs and services that nurture the potential of every adult and child, promoting health and well-being and encouraging social responsibility. 

“On behalf of the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati Board of Directors, I am delighted to have Jorge join us in our good work and mission across this community,” said YMCA of Greater Cincinnati Chairman of the Board Major General (ret) Leonard M. Randolph, Jr. M.D.  “Jorge will have a positive and immediate impact in increasing the visibility of the Y and all that we do to strengthen communities.”

Since 2013, Perez has served as senior vice president of Core Programs and the Y Experience at YMCA of the USA in Chicago, where he has had oversight of $16 million in awards to local Ys annually. His many accomplishments there include maintaining national partnerships around critical social issues (achievement gap, college access, anti-hunger, STEM, early learning, volunteering, youth sports, group exercise, etc.), scaling two signature programs nationwide, focusing on youth development and member engagement (Achievement Gap and Togetherhood), and upgrading some of our largest national programs (Afterschool, Summer Camp, Y Achievers).

His 21-year career with the Y has included serving as president/CEO at the YMCA of Southwest Illinois, vice-president-Operations with the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, executive director at the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, Urban Mission branch; executive director at the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, Oak Cliff branch; and associate executive director at the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, Community Services branch.  He joined the Y movement in 1995.

“I am honored to be invited to serve at the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati alongside a cause-driven team of staff, volunteers, partners, community and business leaders; dedicated to creating transformational experiences and providing supportive programs for children, families, and friends who rely on the Y every day,” said Perez.  “Together, we will continue to ensure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive as they reach goals, establish caring relationships, and make a connection with the movement we call the YMCA.”

Perez earned an MBA degree from the University of Dallas and a Master of Arts degree in Christian education from Dallas Theological Seminary. His Bachelor of Science degree was also in Christian education from Calvary Bible College in Kansas City, Missouri.

Talia Brown as Laura in New Edgecliff Theatre production of The Glass Menagerie.

DeAnna Hoskins Joins Chatfield College Board of Trustees

New Edgecliff draws on non-traditional casting for Tennessee Williams’ classic “The Glass Menagerie”

Rep. Reece moves to ditch front license plate

By Dan Yount

The Cincinnati Herald

More than 1,300 Cincinnatians attended Black Agenda Cincinnati’s 2nd Annual Black History Month Community Lecture Series featuring Roland Martin, columnist, author and host and managing editor of TV One’s “NewsOne Now,’’ as Martin provided marching orders for Black agendas in America.

Martin challenged the audience at Zion Baptist Church February 2 in Avondale to work together to form a force that can effectively challenge both White and Black elected officials to pay attention to the concerns of the Black community, and to also be a force in improving financial, educational, and healthcare issues in the Black community themselves.

 “Ordinary people can do extraordinary things,’’ he said, pointing to the Civil Right Movement of the last century, which often involved a handful of people at the start and blossomed into massive forces that over a period of 13 years brought about numerous civil and human rights changes and laws. He pointed to how just four African American college students in February1960 walked up to a Whites-only lunch counter at the local Woolworth's store in Greensboro, North Carolina, and asked for coffee. Despite threats and intimidation, the students sat quietly and waited to be served, and they were joined by other students in a movement that eventually ended segregation at restaurants. 

He said Americans talk about the icons of the Civil Rights Movement – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth Sr, and others – as if they were “superheroes,’’ but “they were simply ordinary people leading ordinary people doing extraordinary things to bring Jim Crow to its knees.’’

Martin said African Americans appear to be waiting for their next “superhero,” without realizing that the movement involved all people. “Too many Black people are still stuck at the inauguration of President Obama in 2008 (in hoping he would be that hero). Yet, Black women said nothing about having a Black woman nominated as a Supreme Court justice while he was in office. There should have been a return on their investment during that time.”

Martin added, “We cannot change public policies when we don’t hold our own politically accountable’

He also said, “You cannot talk about a Black agenda if you do not challenge the people in power. King convinced President Johnson to support the Civil Right Act of 1964 and the Voters Rights Act of 1965, yet did not return Johnson’s phone calls to urge him to drop his opposition to the Vietnam War.’’

Blacks must have the courage to fight for what they want and not be afraid to use their own playbook, he said, noting that LBGT advocates met with President Obama in his first 60 days as President, but it took five years for Black leaders to do so.

“What are you going to do today after the march?’’ he asked. “Our ancestors took the agenda forward, and we do not understand those mechanics from our history. For example, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was supposed to last one day, but 50,000 Blacks did not get on a bus there for a year, until the Supreme Court banned segregation in public places. They did not buckle, and the movement was started by a small group in a church basement.’’

And Martin says, “The hell with the baton being passed from generation to generation. Run your own race. Black Lives Matter did, and they did not ask for permission.’’ But he cautions that the plan must be carried out together, or it fails.

The Black agenda is a working, fluid, consistent document, one that those in power should not be allowed to change, he said.

He asks if your document is a Black agenda or a Democratic Party agenda, noting that only 1.7 percent of Democratic Party campaign funds in the last five years went to Black candidates. Black businesses received only 1.7 percent of Small Business loans during recent years, something he consistently challenged Obama and his Administration about.

“The President was not happy when I confronted him about this, but I was there to get SBA money for Black people, for if we don’t get it we can’t grow,’’ he said.

Martin continued, “Money also equals power, and the number one concern of any Black agenda is economics, for without money you cannot fund your own grassroots operations or control politicians. It also removes the shackles of credit card debt.’’

Martin provided several simple, tangible things people can do to bring about change within their community:

Create Freedom Schools under the Children’s Defense Fund model at churches where students ages 4-7 can come to do their homework under volunteer mentors. This addresses an educational issue.
Use church nurses to conduct routine health screenings. This would address some of the serious health issues in the community.
Invest in a mutual fund offered by Black-managed Ariel Investments of Chicago, which caters to African American clients. It takes just $50 to open an account. Or better, get 5,000 people to open accounts with Ariel and each contribute $82 per month to reach $1,000 in a year, which would equal $5 million in Black wealth in your community in one year. Or join a Black investment club.
You can also sign petitions. State Rep Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) has worked several years to obtain 300,000 signatures to get her voter rights bill on the Ohio ballot. Blacks must come forward and help her out to get one of the most fundamental rights on the ballot before 2020, Martin said.

“If a handful of people back in the late 1950s meeting in a church basement or four students sitting at a lunch counter in the early 1960s brought about a 13-year span of civil rights changes, can you not do the same thing in 2017?’’ Martin asked the audience.

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It’s a big weekend for Girl Scouts of Western Ohio! Girl Scout Cookies begin arriving by the truck-load for pick up by our volunteers. More than 2.9 million boxes will be distributed to more than 2,300 troops in 32 counties throughout western Ohio.

There are several “Cookie Drops” scheduled in your area. The drops are listed below and include details on locations and times. At these drops, volunteers will pick up cases of cookies for their troop’s initial cookie orders, which girls will distribute to customers over the coming weeks.

Haven't ordered your Girl Scout Cookies? Don't panic. You have until the end of March to place an order through a Girl Scout you know, in person or online via Digital Cookie. Don't know a Girl Scout? Girl Scout Cookie Booth sales begin March 3 and go through March 26. To find a booth in your community, visit and enter your zip code into the Girl Scout Cookie Finder or download the Girl Scout Cookie Finder app for your iOS or Android mobile device.

Drop Location:          

Planes Moving and Storage

9823 Cincinnati-Dayton Road

West Chester, OH 45069

Saturday, February 25 - 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Over 425,000 packages will be distributed at this location.

DeAnna Hoskins. Photo provided

Winburn announces why he did not run for mayor

Star of AMC’s hit show ‘Breaking Bad’, RJ Mitte
attending ReelAbilities Film Festival

Jorge Perez. Photo provided

Best known for his role of Walter ‘Flynn’ White Jr. for five riveting seasons of AMC’s Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning thriller, “Breaking Bad”, and the handsome face of GAP’s International 2014 “Lived In Summer” Campaign, RJ Mitte will be joining a list of Hollywood stars, dignitaries, and ReelAbilities film VIPs to join Greater Cincinnati in celebrating difference at the region’s largest film festival, the 2017 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival organized by LADD – March 9 to 12 at the Duke Energy Convention Center. 

Tickets will go on sale for all Festival events and screenings at the end of January.

Like his character in “Breaking Bad”, Mitte, has cerebral palsy, however, milder than his character. He had to learn to walk on crutches and slur his speech for the role. Following that show, he was on the big screen with a lead role portraying a character without a disability in “Dixieland” which premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival. To heighten awareness and education of his own issues with bullying and prejudice, Mitte is an official ambassador for United Cerebral Palsy and Shriners Hospitals for Children; and is the celebrity face for the #CutTheBull Campaign in support of children with disabilities.

The public is invited for a 10 a.m. Welcome to Cincinnati question and answer event with Mitte and other stars that will officially kick off the Film Festival on March 9. At noon that day, Mitte will be the Keynote Speaker at the Festival’s Premiere Luncheon.

Thousands are expected for the four-day, Hollywood style film screening extravaganza that will benefit local nonprofit organizations whose work is enriching and strengthening the lives of individuals who have disabilities, their families and their communities. It will include star-studded parties and events, workshops, speakers, conversation sports and more than 40 exciting films that show case the stories, lives and art of people who experience disabilities. Attendees will be able to learn how to act, model, tell their story, see entertainment, and create films on their smart phone.

Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD, Inc.) is a 41-year-old Cincinnati-based nonprofit organization that is guided by the belief that every person has ability and value, and that there is great strength in diversity. LADD works to propel the inclusion and success of nearly 500 adults in Hamilton County who have developmental disabilities through housing and employment options, life skills training, and advocacy leadership.

Steve Harris, who attended The Cincinnati Herald’s sold-out Daddy Daughter Dinner Dance with his son and granddaughter on February 11 at Duke Energy Convention Center, was the winner of a drawing for a weekend loan of a Mercedes-Benz that was sponsored by event sponsor Mercedes-Benz of Cincinnati and Mercedes-Benz of West Chester. More than 1,000 daddies and their daughters, and some grandfathers too, attended the event. 

Urban League recognizes Lions at 68th Annual Meeting

Friday, May 12, 2017

5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Anderson Pavilion - 8 Mehring Way (under the carousel across from Smale Park)

Keynote Speaker: Olympic Gold Medalist Mary Wineberg

Music, Food, Networking, Inspiration!

More than 500 guests heard Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio President and CEO Donna Jones Baker give the keynote address during the organization’s 68th Annual Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Hotel downtown on February 10.

Former Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin, retired banker and author John W. Harshaw, civil rights attorney Alphonse Gerhardstein, and retired school principal Gwendolyn Ivory Robinson were inducted into the Urban League’s Legendary Lions Society during the luncheon.

Gwendolyn Ivory Robinson was honored for her many years of service as a Cincinnati Public Schools principal, community volunteer and her civil rights activism.

In the early 1960s as a Walnut Hills High School student and later in college, Gwen protested racial “Jim Crow” and inequality by walking in picket lines at Woolworth’s, Coney Island and other places in Cincinnati which discriminated against people of color.  She provides impeccable service to youth, adults and the Greater Cincinnati Community. 

She recently served as the National Area V Director of Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc., whose motto is “Serving Youth and Adults” in distinguished programs of superlative volunteer service with positive and measurable impact.  This organization has a youth group called Top Teens of America, and she has mentored this group for 33 continuous years. She is also a mentor for Taft High School Strive for Excellence – ASCEN Program. She is Co-coordinator for Medgar and Myrlie Evers Academy for African American Males A-TEAAM. At Christ Church, Gwen serves as Bible Study teacher and founder/organizer of InChristUs!

Her volunteerism is vast, some highlights include: Founded, organized and served as the first president of Letteria Dalton Foundation, Inc; an Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. member with 53 years of service and a former Cincinnati Chapter President.  Co-Founder/Organizer of The Nikah Project (Haitian Relief); Founded and organized The Academy of World Languages Foundation, Inc.; Greater Cincinnati Sister Cities Trustee, 1990-98. She participated as a member of the Ohio Department of Education Advisory Committee.

 John Harshaw, the author of the book “Cincinnati’s West End,” was surrounded by many of his Taft High School classmates at the Urban League’s 68th Annual Meeting. Harshaw carved a pathway for African Americans to follow in the banking industry. He served as president of Magnolia Federal Savings and Loan and as manager of 13 banking offices in the Tidewater, Virginia, area. He was a founding board member of the first Neighborhood Housing Service in Knoxville, Tennessee, and received the Minority Business Bureau Award for “Outstanding Banker” while there. These accomplishments occurred in the Eighties and Nineties, when African Americans were missing from key management ranks in the banking industry.

His knowledge of the banking industry led to his being an international banking consultant, working in Japan and West Africa to assist in creating strategies for consumer growth and participation on an international banking scale. His workshops for West African banks were on marketing strategies and customer development.


He has been a frequent speaker during the Congressional Black Caucus Conference and panel discussions sponsored by members of the U.S. Congress regarding banking and housing issues. A key result of these discussions was a change in the capital requirements for church lending. Harshaw coauthored the minority provisions of the Financial Institutional Recovery, Reform and Enforcement Act of 1989 and has been recognized nationally for his banking expertise. His banking expertise led to his serving as a member of President George Bush’s Committee on Small business and as a member of President Bill Clinton’s Committee on Health Insurance Reform.

         Harshaw is a genealogist and a published author of two novels set in Cincinnati. He is an historian and has published two major books on Cincinnati’s rich African American history, one titled Cincinnati’s West End and the other entitled Bankers, Writers and Runners-Playing the Numbers in Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky. He has also served as a lecturer and tour guide to the Urban League’s African American Leadership Development Program where he has brought to life the history of Cincinnati’s Black. A graduate of Taft High school and the University of Cincinnati, after returning to Cincinnati, Harshaw continues to support many civic activities that benefit Cincinnati’s African American community

Alphonse Gerhardstein is a partner in the Cincinnati law firm of Gerhardstein & Branch Co., LPA. He has been an attorney for over 39 years and focuses his practice on civil rights. He was lead counsel in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case in which the United States Supreme Court established marriage equality for same sex couples in all 50 states.  For many years, he has represented the Sentinel Police Association and the Cincinnati African American Firefighters Association in their work to achieve and maintain diversity in the safety forces in Cincinnati.


He was also lead counsel on a class action that reformed Ohio’s juvenile prisons and was lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit that resulted in Cincinnati’s Collaborative Agreement which has been repeatedly cited as a national model for police reform. He is currently working to reform Taser policies in law enforcement agencies across the region.  He is co-counsel for the Sam DuBose family and secured a settlement of $5 million, an apology, a memorial on campus and participation in police reforms following the shooting of Mr. DuBose by University of Cincinnati Police.

Gerhardstein’s commitment to fighting for the most marginalized extends far beyond police accountability. He fought for the rights of a gay couple. This case was then used as precedence in the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality. Since 1987, he has successfully defended Southwest Ohio Planned Parenthood in starving off sensationalized charges.

Gerhardstein is the founder of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center and a Board Member of the Ohio Association for Justice. He has been a recipient of many awards.

The Honorable Rhine McLin served as Dayton mayor and former member of the Ohio State Senate and Ohio House of Representatives

A Dayton native, Rhine has a long history of active community involvement. In 2002, she became the third African American mayor and the first female mayor in the city’s history. She previously served six years in the Ohio House of Representatives from 1988 to 1994, and was then elected State Senator for the 5th Ohio Senate district, serving Montgomery and Miami Counties. When elected in 1994, McLin was elected by her peers to serve in leadership as the Minority Whip. Two years later, she was the first woman elected to serve in the Senate leadership as Minority Leader.

Currently, McLin is a board member of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, Vice Chair of the Ohio Democratic Party, Vice Chair of Midwest Caucus-Democratic National Committee and Vice Chair of the Association of State Democratic Chair Executive Committee Midwest. McLin also serves on the Miami Valley Fair Housing Board.

McLin an adjunct professor at Central State University teaching, Introduction to Sociology, Social Problems and Race and Ethnic Relations. 

Actress Robin Givens to be YWCA Career Women of Achievement speaker