Interview with Carl Stokes

We're going to begin with one question. In 1965 what made you decide to run in '65, how did you know then that the time was right for a Black person to run as mayor of Cleveland?


Well I don't know that the time was right, uh, as much as it was that I felt that it could be done, and it was a kind of natural aspiration of mine since I had been elected county-wide to the Ohio Legislature and, and, uh, in a county that had only a 8 percent Black population. It obviously, uh, indicated my ability to put together the White vote that would be needed in a majority White city. And, uh, and it's a, a natural evolution of one who is in a profession to look toward the, the, uh, next echelon. In addition to which, uh, the City of Cleveland was rapidly distinguishing itself as one of the worst examples of the urban crisis that was sweeping the nation and, uh, uh, Black people here were undergoing perhaps, certainly by degrees greater deprivations than in other northern cities in the United States. And consistent with my own historical understanding about the, uh, uh, evolution of minority groups into the mainstream of America, that the next place for us to be was to be at the helm of, of the, uh, one of the major cities. And I saw all of these factors coming together and decided that I would run.