Established to encourage new ideas and a free exchange of thought, The City Club is the oldest continuous free speech forum in the country, renowned for its tradition of debate and discussion.
The City Club firmly believes in the free expression of all ideas and the benefits of an open exchange. It is non-partisan and does not take positions on issues. All speakers must answer unfiltered, unrehearsed questions directly from the audience.
Each Forum is an hour long program. The program starts with a brief introduction followed by a 25-30 minute address by the speaker. Spirited, insightful and often challenging questions from the audience fill the final half hour of the program.
No More "Snake on the Lake:" The Future of Redistricting in Ohio
In May, the U.S. Census Bureau announced population statistics following the completion of the 2020 census. Ohio, for the sixth consecutive time, will lose a seat in the House of Representatives, bringing the number of representatives from 16 to 15. While Ohio actually gained population since the 2010 census, other areas of the country - especially in the Sun Belt and the west - grew faster. The timing of this loss is problematic as the state embarks on a new system of drawing its congressional maps, which are considered among the most gerrymandered in the nation.\r\n\r\nIt's unclear which of the 12 Republicans and four Democrats stands to lose their district when the new maps are drawn in September. The data released in May did not indicate which parts of Ohio were experiencing population growth versus decline - a key factor in determining how the boundaries for the new districts will be drawn. Despite all the unknowns, the implications are significant especially for Northeast Ohio. Under the new legislation, the boundaries around District 9 - the aptly named \"snake on the lake\" - will need to be redrawn. And the region, which currently divided into four congressional districts, will likely be reduced to three as the new guidelines only permit five of Ohio\'s 88 counties to be split more than twice across congressional boundaries. This has huge implications for Cuyahoga County especially in District 11, the only majority minority district in the state.\r\n\r\nHow are Ohio legislators preparing for these changes? What are the implications for Northeast Ohio and Cuyahoga County? How do we ensure that the redistricting reforms passed in 2015 and 2018 are upheld - and that the process for redrawing the maps is transparent?
Judicial Crisis?: Dark Money, Court Capture, and the Future of American Democracy
In May, 2020, Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), released a report examining a decades-long effort by conservative interests to remake the federal judiciary. The 54-page report, Captured Courts: The GOP\'s Big Money Assault on the Constitution, our Independent Judiciary, and the Rule of Law, details the impact Republicans and millions of dollars of \"dark money\" have had on the court, with nearly 200 judicial nominees confirmed during the Trump presidency. The report maintains that many of these appointments were not based on a judge\'s qualifications or expertise, but rather in their ability to adhere to and further the goals of the Republican party.\r\n\r\nThe report follows a several years of increased tension in the Senate over the perception of partisan judicial nominations. The tension escalated after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the expediated process to confirm a replacement before Election Day. On September 22, 2020, Senator Whitehouse testified before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property & the Internet about the court capture and its effect on an independent judiciary, the rule of law, and the future of American democracy.\r\n\r\nSenator Whitehouse, a former U.S. Attorney and State Attorney General, was elected to the Senate in 2006. He is also the author of Captured: The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy.
Justice Rising: Robert Kennedy’s America in Black and White
On April 5, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Senator Robert F. Kennedy stood at The City Club of Cleveland\'s podium and delivered the Mindless Menace of Violence speech, now considered one of the most important speeches of the 20th century.\r\n\r\nHistory, race, and politics converged in the 1960s in ways that indelibly changed America. A new book by civil rights historian Patricia Sullivan places Kennedy at the center of the movement for racial justice of the 1960s--and shows how many of today's issues can be traced back to that pivotal time\r\n\r\nWhen protests broke out across the South, Kennedy, then a young attorney general, confronted escalating demands for racial justice. What began as a political problem soon became a moral one. In the face of vehement pushback from Southern Democrats bent on massive resistance, he put the weight of the federal government behind school desegregation and voter registration. Kennedy's youthful energy, moral vision, and capacity to lead created a momentum for change. He helped shape the 1964 Civil Rights Act but knew no law would end racism. When the Watts uprising brought calls for more aggressive policing, he pushed back, pointing to the root causes of urban unrest: entrenched poverty, substandard schools, and few job opportunities. Strongly opposed the military buildup in Vietnam, but nothing was more important to him than "the revolution within our gates, the struggle of the American Negro for full equality and full freedom."\r\n\r\nJoin us as Sullivan discusses her research and Robert F. Kennedy's life and legacy against the backdrop of the wide-ranging racial reckoning of the 1960s with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, daughter of Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy.
Beyond the Stage: How Karamu House is Catalyzing Creativity and Community
In 1915, a pair of Oberlin College graduates opened a settlement house in an area of Cleveland called "The Roaring Third," located at the corner of East 38th Street and Central Avenue. The institution set out to establish a common ground where people of different races, religions, and social and economic backgrounds could come together to seek and share common ventures. It became a magnet for African-American artists, including Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. In 1941, building on the strength of Black influence in its development, the organization is renamed Karamu House. Karamu is Swahili for "a place of joyful gathering.\"\r\n\r\nIn 2015, shortly after celebrating its 100 year anniversary, Karamu House was faced with well-publicized stories of defeat--a revoked tax-exempt status, a massive staff layoff, declining budgets, and theatre attendance numbers--in the Fairfax Neighborhood of Cleveland with its own concerns for economic development. However, with the support of the Cleveland community and notable funders--and under the leadership of newly appointed President and CEO Tony F. Sias--Karamu House is experiencing its own renaissance. American Theatre magazine described the transformation as "...one of the most overlooked success stories in (American theatre): how a century-old theatre of color, once in a state of crisis, has been revitalized and rejuvenated."\r\n\r\nDuring the pandemic, Karamu House pivoted to present virtual productions. One of the most notable was Freedom on Juneteenth, an original theatrical production and artistic response to the recent murders of Black Americans through music, dance and spoken word. Within the first 24 hours, more than 50,000 people watched the production.\r\n\r\nJoin us as Karamu House President and CEO Tony F. Sias discusses Karamu House\'s next chapter--including plans for a new outdoor stage--and its ongoing commitment to bringing to light the critical issues that plague Black America.
Investing in Change(makers): Equitably Developing America’s Small and Mid-Sized Legacy Cities
In cities that have long struggled with disinvestment and the loss of jobs, leaders might be tempted to focus on growth at all costs. However, a growing body of evidence shows that revitalization works best when everyone shares in its benefits. This reality became even clearer during the COVID-19 pandemic, which deepened racial and economic inequities.\r\n\r\nThe need for equitable revitalization is especially urgent in smaller legacy cities, places with populations under 200,000, many of them in Ohio, that have lost substantial numbers and manufacturing bases since the mid-20th century. Join us for a conversation with Alison Goebel, Executive Director of the Greater Ohio Policy Center, who will share lessons and strategies from the forthcoming Lincoln Institute of Land Policy report, Equitably Developing America\'s Smaller Legacy Cities: Investing in Residents from South Bend to Worcester.\r\n\r\nGoebel will be joined by Jay Williams, CEO of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and former mayor of Youngstown, Ohio, to discuss the importance of and lessons learned while advancing equitable development. The increased sense of urgency among many policy makers to address longstanding economic and racial disparities at this moment creates unique opportunities to foreground equity in revitalization strategies. Local changemakers can utilize a host of policies and programs focused on both physical development and investment in residents to promote shared prosperity in their communities.\r\n\r\nJoin us for a lively conversation about what works, what to avoid, and what more equitable development might mean to you and your city.
Youth Forum: Youth Voices on Free Speech
It was the legendary civil rights leader and human rights advocate John Lewis who famously said in his autobiography Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement, \"I believe in freedom of speech, but I also believe that we have an obligation to condemn speech that is racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic, or hateful.\"\r\n\r\nThis year, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage and The City Club of Cleveland raised the question of how freedom of speech has not only amplified voices of change, but voices spreading misinformation, untruths and hate as well, in their respective annual essay contests.\r\n\r\nIn their 13th Annual Stop the Hate(R) Youth Speak Out & Youth Sing Out Contest, the Maltz Museum specifically raised the question of how students have chosen to be agents of positive change when experiencing acts of injustice, racism, bigotry, or discrimination.\r\n\r\nIn the 2021 Free Speech Essay Contest, the City Club asked students what they would do in order to ensure the misinformation, extremism, and violence often spread on social media doesn't threaten the balance of free speech and democracy.\r\n\r\nJoin us as the contest winners share both their experiences with hate speech and their views on free speech in the 21st century.