State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) today announced that Canton, Ohio has been selected to host the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus’ 50th anniversary celebration this fall. African American state lawmakers from all across Ohio will convene in Stark County for the two-day event on October 1-2 to recognize the important milestone and chart a course for the future for the historic legislative organization.
“For fifty years, the OLBC has been a leading voice in the fight to improve the lives of all working Ohioans, including the more than 1.6 million African Americans who call Ohio home,” said OLBC President and state Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland). “We are excited to celebrate our 50-year milestone in Canton and look forward to continuing to push for policies that promote equality and expand economic opportunities for minority Ohioans.”
The two-day gathering will include a tour of the Football Hall of Fame Museum, golf at Ohio’s historical Clearview Golf Club and a celebratory dinner at the Johnson Control Pro Football Hall of Fame Village honoring black Ohio legislators over the past 50 years, along with other events.
“I am thrilled to host my OLBC colleagues here in Canton and show off all that is great about our community,” said state Rep. Thomas West, the co-chairman for the event. “Exciting projects like the Pro Football Hall of Fame development, its African American apprenticeship program and significant events like the OLBC 50th Anniversary are all evidence of Canton’s positive momentum. We encourage all elected officials on the local, state and national level to join us for this wonderful evening of fun and enlightenment. This event is a once in a lifetime occasion, which is why we have invited the governor as well as leaders from both the House of Representatives and Senate to attend and share this experience with our community.”
Slated for completion in 2020, the Professional Football Hall of Fame Village project includes plans for a water park, hotel, indoor and outdoor activity center, youth football fields, Black College Hall of Fame, 150 residential units, and retail and restaurant space adjacent to the renowned sports museum. The project is expected to have a $750 million economic impact for Stark County in the first year alone. Officials from the project are scheduled to brief OLBC members as part of the 50th anniversary event.
“Ohio is the birthplace of many African American leaders who, against all odds, overcame years of discrimination and segregation, instilling in all of us the importance of the power of the black voice,” said second Vice President of OLBC Rep. Bernadine Kennedy Kent (D-Columbus), statewide chair for the event. “I look forward to joining advocates from across the state to help empower more African Americans to follow their dreams.”
Founded in 1967, the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) is a coalition of African American state legislators committed to fighting for issues important to African Americans in Ohio. OLBC members are often on the front lines of legislative debates over criminal justice reform, voting rights, expanding economic opportunities for working Ohioans, reducing health disparities, and improving access to quality education. There are currently 16 active OLBC members in the Ohio General Assembly.