Interview with Seth Taft

Okay, did Stokes' victory represent a new power alliance? What did you think it represented at the time? Did you see something new happening in Cleveland?


Well, it certainly represented the first real acceptance of the Black community as a political power within the city. There'd been, Blacks had run fr--for mayor in previous elections but uh, never got the consolidated support, even within the Black community. Ah, and the Cleveland City Council was still significantly White in its orientation, even though in some of the wards the councilmen were White because they'd been there forever and were well-respected in their wards. But when they retired or died or whatever they were, they were s--supplanted by uh, Black councilmen. Ah, so that there, there was a, a change going on there that has progressively continued up until this very day. Ah, and so it, it did come, become the emergence of the Black community as a powerful figure in, in the equation in the city of Cleveland. Ah, it meant that the city of Cleveland was very consistently run in such a way that was whether the mayor was White or Black thereafter, uh, very strong civil rights programs, equal opportunity programs within the city administration. Ah, so that did represent a, a significant change. And I suppose you would say that as the view of the Black community became stronger within the city administration it met a heavier commitment to effective social programs, to improvement of a lot of the people. On the other hand, the city had to live within its income so that you couldn't sort of suddenly say, well, we're going to build a, a lot of housing or something like that. So you still had to, under higher law it had to operate within its income. And so in that sense the management of the city didn't change dramatically.