Interview with Carl Stokes

Among some people in the business community there was a feeling that electing Carl Stokes would ease racial tensions and, but in a way might buy them fire insurance in a more negative way to look at it. Did you think you could deliver, did you think that you could keep, you could alleviate some of the tension and some of the feeling of misery in the Black community? Did you think you could keep Cleveland cool?


No, I never thought that I could, uh, keep Cleveland cool. I mean after all what was happening, the social phenomenon that was expressing itself in the rioting throughout the United States, all of the, the, uh, factors that were basic to that were more than present in Cleveland and in many other places. So there was no, never any, any realistic reason for me to believe that, but from a standpoint of being able to evidence to the, to the Black and the poor people of Cleveland that I could do what they m--most wanted to do. And that is to have a concern and interest in it and to apply the resources available to doing something about them. This is what I knew that I could do. Obviously the White business community, uh, never understood the, uh, sociological factors that, uh, or socioeconomic factors that were going into the conflagration of the cities and the only thing that they wanted to do was, "Is there somebody who probably will stop Cleveland from, uh, going up in flames," uh, no matter how often I told them and others told them that electing Carl Stokes isn't going to stop riots. Nonetheless they believed that and since they were so disenchanted with the incumbent mayor and saw no other reasonable alternatives from the other candidates offering themselves, uh, they found it easy to accept me with that very primitive reason.