Today, Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) was sworn in by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Melody Stewart, followed by the following officers: State Reps. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland), Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati), Erica Crawley (D-Columbus), Sedrick Denson (D-Cincinnati), and State Sens. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus), and Vernon Sykes (D-Akron). The change in leadership is also accompanied by the appointment of a new director of the caucus, Tony Bishop. The new leadership team briefly outlined a plan to better engage Black Ohioans and build the necessary coalitions across the state to improve the everyday lives of all Ohioans. The new leadership team issued the statements below following their swearing-in.
“We are ushering in a new leadership team for a new era of politics and engagement in the state of Ohio,” said OLBC President Rep. West. “With the context of what we are currently living through, this caucus is as important now as it was in during its creation in 1967. There is a strong presence of Black leadership in Ohio’s legislature, and we intend to deliver for the Black community in a bipartisan way. We know that the 19 legislators represent over 1.7 million African Americans across the state of Ohio. Therefore, it is up to us to make sure that those voices are heard by engaging with our fellow Black elected officials on every level, both past and present.”
“Today is such a special day for our group as we bring in some new members to the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, Reps. Willis Blackshear, Jr. and Dontavius Jarrells,” OLBC Vice-President Rep. Brent said. “The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus is the oldest legislative Black caucus in the nation. Knowing our history is important, and it is an honor to continue carrying on our traditions from one General Assembly to the next. I am so grateful to have been chosen by my colleagues to serve as the First Vice President of the OLBC in the 134th General Assembly. I am looking forward to serving with this new leadership team to deliver results for Black Ohioans and build up Black families across our state.”
“It is important for us to complete the work started in the last general assembly, such as HCR 31 declaring racism as a public health crisis, as well as building bridges to make vital connections to move Black families forward. This is our promise we made to the citizens of Ohio, and it is a promise we will continue to work toward, “ said OLBC Vice-President Rep. Ingram.
“When the Black community and communities of color are lifted up, all communities are lifted up. We want to make certain that families come first by ensuring that fairness and equity are experienced by all Ohioans, and everyone has the same opportunity to thrive, not just survive,” OLBC Treasurer Rep. Erica Crawley.
“I am truly humbled and honored to serve as Sergeant at Arms in the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus for the 134th General Assembly. We will continue to fight to declare racism a public health crisis, to ensure that our laws are administered fairly and to put policies in place that address the many ways in which structural racism still impacts Ohioans of color today. It is my duty to advocate to ensure justice and equality is a reality for all Ohioans,” OLBC Sergeant-at-Arms Sen. Hearcel Craig.