. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Caspar Citron Interviews Carl B. Stokes January 1974 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.
Since much of America is focused this week on Baltimore and the current state of American cities in general, I was reminded of another American city; Cleveland, who elected its first Black Mayor in the strife-torn year of 1968. Carl B. Stokes, who had served as a member of Congress from the 11th District in Ohio from 1962-1968, became the first unanimously elected Black Mayor of Cleveland and served from 1968 to 1971.
Stokes (who appears to be no relation to Baltimore City Councilman Carl F. Stokes) had his work cut out for him when he assumed Mayoral duties. Cleveland, like most major urban areas, was a city in flux. With Vietnam, the closing of factories and the loss of jobs, and the Civil Rights Movement walking the fine line between non-violence and insurrection, cities were hotbeds of tension and polarization.
Stokes had the unenviable job of waging peace and trying to keep a fractured city on track.
This interview, conducted by Casper Citron, was recorded in 1974 on the occasion of the release of Stokes’ autobiography Promises Of Power; A Political Autobiography. By 1974, Stokes left politics to get into broadcast journalism. He discusses the political climate of the 60s versus the 70s; the struggles which were still prevalent – the deep divisions between Blacks and Whites, some ten years after the height of the Civil Rights movement. How much has changed and how much hasn’t.
Stokes passed away in 1996 after serving out his political career as Ambassador to the Seychelles under the Clinton Administration. In lieu of all that’s been going of late, a reminder that the problems of Urban areas hasn’t gone away, has gotten worse in some cases and is still in need to being addressed and fixed.
Here is that complete interview with Carl B. Stokes and Caspar Citron, from January 10, 1974.