By The Honorable Dwight Tillery
Former Cincinnati Mayor
Bishop Hilton endorsed Councilmember Yvette Simpson for mayor last Saturday. This endorsement is a very significant one, as Hilton doesn’t typically endorse candidates. Furthermore, he has a huge following in the African American community that could sway the Black vote for Simpson. Hilton is noted for his outspokenness regarding Civil Rights and revered by many in the Black community, including myself. The race is virtually a dead heat and many political watchers believe the mayoral race will be won or lost based on votes in the Black community.
When I supported Cranley in the last mayoral race, he was most concerned about Hilton endorsing Roxanne Qualls. However, Hilton remained neutral in that race. What caused Hilton to break with his tradition are Cranley’s attacks and disrespect of Black leaders and neglect of the plight of Black people, who are at the bottom of this city. His token gestures regarding inclusion, hands up, and childhood poverty initiatives have done nothing for the masses of Black people. Hilton stated that Cranley had four years to do something significant to address the horrible condition of the Black community, but he has spent most of his time negotiating deals for developers, leading mass gentrification, and having Black leaders investigated and fired. The dismissal of Cincinnati Police Chief Blackwell still troubles Hilton today. There is a significant number of Black department heads who left under Cranley’s leadership. Hilton made it clear that he was endorsing Simpson in his individual capacity.
Racism continues to plague this city as well as the entire nation, as demonstrated by NFL players this Sunday—most of whom are Black. They launched a protest against racism and President Trump’s unbelievable remarks about them. And just because local officials don’t publicly make Trump-like comments doesn’t mean they don’t feel the same. And just like Colin Kaepernick, some of us are being targeted because we speak out against racism. As a result, we have been subject to bogus investigations and accusations of wrongdoing.
Over a year ago, Cincinnati City Council adopted a policy to eliminate institutional racism. Yet, out of a budget over a billion dollars, they couldn’t find money to actually address this important issue. Black people can tell if their problems are being addressed by the Council’s allocation of dollars—not the empty rhetoric of politicians who say they are against racism and then do nothing. It’s easier said than done.
The Black community must wake up for this important election. Racism is a key campaign issue, and we must use our vote to eliminate it. Unfortunately, the color of candidates is always important in political races. The vote is the only power Black people have: we don’t own major businesses, we don’t control City Hall, we don’t control philanthropic giving, and we don’t control the social service industry. However, we do control our vote. We must support candidates, Back or White, who are committed to equity for all. If Black people exercise their power to vote, it would be far more effective than protesting in the long run. We must exercise our protest of racial injustice by voting, and voting in record numbers on November 7.