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Cleaver, Emanuel

Emanuel Cleaver

1944—

Congressman, mayor, minister

From civil rights activist to Methodist minister to his election as the first black mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, the Reverend Emanuel Cleaver has changed his approach to social activism with the changing times. The Texas native grew up in Waxahachie, a small town near Dallas, where he and his family lived in a house that had been used as a slave cabin only one generation before. From the beginning, religion played an important part in Cleaver's life.

Cleaver's great-grandfather and grandfather were preachers, as were several of his uncles and cousins. However, Cleaver did not decide to become a minister until a knee injury prevented him from pursuing a professional football career. So the former Murray State College linebacker graduated from Prairie View A&M College in 1968 and completed his master of divinity degree at St. Paul School of Theology in 1974.

At one time, Cleaver's religious pursuits and civil rights activities went hand in hand. "Time was when, if you were black and aspired to political office, you almost had to be a preacher and use your church as a base of support," Cleaver told the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Called to Kansas City

This combination of ministerial calling and civil rights pursuits pulled Cleaver away from Texas in 1968, when his mentor, the Reverend Ralph Abernathy, invited Cleaver to Kansas City to set up a chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the political and social group that Martin Luther King Jr. and Abernathy had founded. Cleaver was apprehensive about going to Kansas City; he apparently feared that his civil rights efforts were not needed as much in the midwestern city, when racial tensions were boiling in larger cities such as Detroit and Los Angeles.

However, Cleaver soon learned that racial unrest wasn't limited to the larger cities. Kansas City was the site of its own riots and demonstrations, and at the heart of the social turmoil was Cleaver's cousin, Pete O'Neal, the founder of the Black Panther's local city chapter. So Cleaver found himself inexorably drawn into the role of activist. In an interview with the St. Louis Post Dispatch, he discussed his early days in Kansas City and recalled some of his more blatant methods of protesting social injustice—including sleeping with the homeless on the lawns of upscale department stores. "I've learned about some other ways to make the same points," he explained.

One of the ways Cleaver made these points known was when he was a first-year seminarian assigned to the tiny St. James Methodist Church in the heart of Kansas City in 1973. At the time, the twenty-seven-member congregation worshipped in a ramshackle building that was condemned soon after Cleaver's appointment. Under his leadership, the congregation outgrew three buildings and eventually became one of the largest churches in Kansas City, with an active membership of almost two thousand. As his church grew, so did Cleaver's political involvement.

Cleaver was elected to Kansas City's Fifth District city council in 1979, and he served three consecutive terms through 1991. He also served as the chairman of the council's Plans and Zoning Committee from 1984 to 1987 and of its Policy and Rules Committee from 1987 to 1991. During the same time frame, Cleaver was also mayor pro tem of Kansas City.

Became Kansas City's First African-American Mayor

Cleaver made political history in 1991, when he was elected the first black mayor of Kansas City. Sworn in on April 10, 1991, he became one of only a handful of black mayors in U.S. cities with predominantly white populations. At that time, only 26 percent of Kansas City's voters were black, and two-thirds of the city's 435,000 inhabitants were white. Regardless, Cleaver captured 95 percent of the black vote, 90 percent of the Hispanic vote, 90 percent of the Jewish vote, and 40 percent of the white vote, according to the Kansas City mayor's office.

Cleaver, who succeeded Mayor Richard L. Berkley, outpolled fellow council member Bob Lewellen by carrying 53 percent of the vote in what was considered a relatively amicable mayoral race. Interestingly, neither candidate focused on the issue of race. "The key to the outcome was the candidate himself," commented the political science professor and University of Missouri dean Max Skidmore in the New York Times. "Cleaver managed to suppress the racial element…. While holding on to his black support in the predominantly black wards, he was able to attract white support in all areas of the city. His whole career has been spent building bridges between the races." An Economist contributor expressed a similar sentiment, calling Cleaver a "moderate" black politician who "tends to be less radical and confrontational than the most nationally prominent black politician, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and more willing to work with the establishment to achieve his goals."

At a Glance …

Born Emanuel Cleaver II on October 26, 1944, in Waxahachie, TX; married Dianne (a psychologist); children: Evan Donaldson, Emanuel III, Emiel Davenport, and Marissa Dianne. Politics: Democratic Party. Religion: Methodist. Education: Attended Murray State College; Prairie View A&M College, bachelor of science, 1968; St. Paul School of Theology, master of divinity, 1974.

Career: St. James United Methodist Church, Kansas City, MO, pastor, 1973—; Kansas City, Fifth District, city councilman, 1979-91; City Council Plans and Zoning Committee of Kansas City, chairman, 1984-87; City Council Policy and Rules Committee of Kansas City, chairman, 1987-91; Kansas City, mayor pro tem, 1987-91; Kansas City, mayor, 1991-99; Kansas City's Harmony in a World of Difference, founder and co-chair; Special Urban Adviser to the Secretary of the Housing and Urban Development, 1999-2000; U.S. Representative for the Fifth District of Missouri, 2004—.

Memberships: Alpha Phi Alpha; Democratic National Committee; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; National Conference of Black Mayors (two terms as president); Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC; midcentral regional vice president).

Awards: William Yates Distinguished Service Medallion, 1987; Baker University, D.D., 1988; Greater Kansas City Urban Affairs Council, Distinguished Citizen Award, 1991; Webster University, Community Service/Leadership Award, 1991; SCLC, Drum Major of Justice Award, 1991; James C. Kirkpatrick Excellence for Government Award, 1993; Missouri State, Conspicuous Service Medal, 1999.

Addresses: Office—101 W. Thirty-first St., Kansas City, MO 64108. Church—St. James United Methodist Church, 5540 Wayne, Kansas City, MO 64110.

This new Emanuel Cleaver is a far cry from the Cleaver who quit his directorship at the YMCA in 1972 be- cause of what he referred to as vestiges of "institutionalized racism." However, Cleaver admitted that he has changed his method of doing things. Reflecting on his days as a staunch activist, Cleaver told the New York Times, "I think I have mellowed…. But I think the nation itself has mellowed since then…. I think I am a person who is still committed to social justice, but you can't legislate or negotiate and agitate at the same time."

Legislation and negotiation are what Cleaver focused on as mayor of a city that spans a two-state, eight-county area. Kansas City operates under a council-manager form of government, so much of Cleaver's leadership depended on his ability to build consensus. Other than his title as mayor and his authority to appoint committee chairs on the council, his ability to set policy rested on the same single vote allowed any other member of the council.

Brought New Business into Kansas City

Kansas City's economy benefited naturally from its central location and successful agribusiness, but the city had its share of problems as well, including an inadequate public school system and the too-small Kansas City International Airport. Taking advantage of the city's benefits and attempting to offset its drawbacks, Cleaver focused his energy on courting new businesses. According to the Kansas City Business Journal, "Within the first three weeks of his tenure, he scheduled four visits to attract business, including a bid to host some of the World Cup international soccer championship—a move that would put Kansas City in the global spotlight."

To attract new businesses, Cleaver improved Kansas City's social offerings. "No longer will people be able to say that Kansas City can't compete with Los Angeles or New York. Any time there is an opportunity for us to attract new business into Kansas City, expect us to go after it. The '90s will be the decade for Kansas City," Cleaver told the Kansas City Business Journal. The city embarked on beautification projects that improved the zoo, made the riverfront more attractive, expanded the Bartle Hall Convention Center, and built a cultural center to highlight the city's jazz and baseball history. The efforts were successful. During Cleaver's two terms as mayor (his second term started in 1995), the city attracted new businesses, including Transamerica, Gateway 2000, CitiCorp, Sommers-Allibert the Aquilla Division of Utilicorp, and Harley Davidson. The city won recognition as an Enhanced Enterprise Zone and was awarded $25 million for the construction of a new industrial park.

Cleaver's other accomplishments as Kansas City's mayor included appointing the first female mayor pro tem, appointing more black men and women to city boards and commissions, establishing the Metropolitan Mayor's Council, introducing and passing a tougher sexual harassment law, and maintaining efforts to allow citizens a direct voice to the mayor. His Mayor's Night Hoops program offered youth a regularly scheduled, safe recreational event. He also cofounded the Harmony in a World of Difference, a local group dedicated to reducing prejudice and increasing cultural awareness.

When he left Kansas City's mayoral position in 1999, he had created a positive legacy for himself. To honor his tenure, Kansas City renamed one of the longest streets in the city Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard. After his term in office, Cleaver remained a local public figure, hosting a local public radio station talk show and continuing his service as pastor at the local St. James United Methodist Church. He also continued to work in the city's interests, fostering businesses and social programs. He served as Special Urban Adviser to the Secretary of the Housing and Urban Development shortly after leaving office, and in 2002 Cleaver began serving on the Diversity Action Council, an advisory board to Burger King Corp. that helps the company develop relationships with ethnic businesses.

Elected to Congress in 2004

However, it seemed clear that Cleaver's imagination for developing and energy for pursuing ideas that improved society would take him even further. In 2003 the Democratic representative Karen McCarthy announced that she was stepping down from the seat she had held for a decade in the U.S. House of Representatives. Cleaver, who was sixty years old at the time, decided to pursue the seat. Even though Cleaver was one of the best-known politicians in Kansas City, his election was by no means a foregone conclusion. He faced a contested Democratic primary, and his opponent in the general election, Republican Jeanne Patterson, spent nearly $3 million from her family fortune on her campaign, which made Cleaver's election more difficult than his thirteen-point margin of victory would suggest.

Cleaver has proven to be a voice for bipartisanship and civility in the House. Even though his voting record has been that of a typical Democrat—according to the Washington Post, he has voted with his party 97.6 percent of the time—he has consistently emphasized the need to maintain open lines of communication with politicians on the other side of the aisle. One of the partisan tropes Cleaver has fought hardest against is the claim that Democrats are antireligious or anti-Christianity. Recalling one instance of such claims to Jon Sawyer of the St. Louis Dispatch, Cleaver said, "I try not to ever get angry but I got angry. I heard someone say the Democrats are against Christians. I thought, against ourselves?"

As a minister who returns from Washington every weekend to preach at the St. James United Methodist Church on Sunday, Cleaver has been at the forefront of attempts to reach out to the Christian and evangelical community on issues such as the environment. "The Bible is very clear, and most theologians agree that the Earth is the Lord's, and therefore we have a responsibility to be good stewards of the Earth," Cleaver told Rob Hotakainen of the St. Louis Dispatch. However, Cleaver's dual roles as preacher and politician have at times caused controversy, as with his vocal opposition to a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, an amendment that many Christian groups—including some in the African-American community—supported.

In 2008 Cleaver was involved in the Democratic presidential primary as a steadfast supporter of the New York senator Hillary Clinton. Cleaver's support of Clinton over the African-American senator Barack Obama was controversial with some in the black community, and he went public with charges that members of the community were "threatening" prominent African-American politicians who did not support Obama, with "nasty letters, phone calls, threats they'll get [a primary] opponent, being called an Uncle Tom…a lot of ugly stuff," as he told Josephine Hearn of the Politico Web site. Nonetheless, as the presidential primary dragged on, Cleaver came to accept the likelihood that Obama would win, stressing party unity and the need for whoever the Democratic candidate is to defeat the Republican nominee.

Sources

Periodicals

Christian Science Monitor, April 4, 1991.

Ebony, September 1, 1991.

Economist, March 30, 1991.

Jet, April 15, 1991; August 2, 1993; April 2, 2001.

Kansas City Business Journal, July 12, 1991.

Los Angeles Times, March 27, 1991.

Nation's Cities Weekly, April 1, 1991.

Newsweek, April 4, 2008.

New York Times, March 1, 1991; March 28, 1991.

St. Louis Dispatch, July 1, 2005; April 1, 2007; March 20, 2008.

St. Louis Post Dispatch, May 12, 1991.

Online

"Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II," U.S. House of Representatives, http://www.house.gov/cleaver/index.shtml (accessed May 27, 2008).

Hearn, Josephine, "Black Backers Steadfast for Clinton," Politico, http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0208/8762.html (accessed May 27, 2008).

"Members of Congress: Emanuel Cleaver," Washington Post, http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/c001061/ (accessed May 27, 2008).

Saint James United Methodist Church, http://www.stjamesumc.com (accessed May 27, 2008).

—Sara Pendergast, Tom Pendergast,
and Derek Jacques

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"Cleaver, Emanuel." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Cleaver, Emanuel 1944–

Emanuel Cleaver 1944

Mayor, pastor

Called to Kansas City

Became Kansas Citys First African-American Mayor

Brought New Business into Kansas City

Sources

From civil rights activist to Methodist minister to his election as the first black mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, the Reverend Emanuel Cleaver II has changed his approach to social activism with the changing times. Born in 1944, the Texas native grew up in Waxahachie, a small town near Dallas, where he and his family lived in a house that had been used as a slave cabin only one generation before. From the beginning, religion played an important part in Cleavers life.

Cleavers great-grandfather and grandfather were preachers, as were several of his uncles and cousins. However, Cleaver did not decide to become a minister until a knee injury prevented him from pursuing a professional football career. So the former Murray State College linebacker graduated from Prairie View A & M College in 1968 and completed his master of divinity degree at St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City.

Called to Kansas City

At one time, Cleavers religious pursuits and civil rights activities went hand in hand. Time was when, if you were black and aspired to political office, you almost had to be a preacher and use your church as a base of support, Cleaver told the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

This combination of ministerial calling and civil rights pursuits pulled Cleaver away from the Lone Star State in 1968 when his mentor, the Reverend Ralph Abernathy, invited Cleaver to Kansas City to set up a chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the political and social group that Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abernathy had founded. Cleaver was apprehensive about going to Kansas City; he apparently feared that his civil rights efforts were not needed as much in such a small Midwestern town, when racial tensions were boiling in larger cities like Detroit and Los Angeles.

But Cleaver soon learned that racial unrest wasnt limited to the larger cities. Kansas City was the site of its own riots and demonstrations, and at the heart of the social turmoil was Cleavers cousin, Pete ONeal, the founder of the Black Panther partys local city chapter. So Cleaver found himself inexorably drawn into the role of activist. In an interview with the Post Dispatch, he discussed his early days in Kansas City and recalled some of his more blatant methods of protesting social injustice-including sleep-ins with the homeless on the lawns of upscale department stores. Ive learned about some other ways to make the same points, he explained.

One of the ways Cleaver found to make these points known came when he was a first-year seminarian assigned to the tiny St. James Methodist Church in the heart of Kansas City in 1973. At the time, the 27-member congregation worshipped in a ramshackle building that was condemned soon after Cleavers appointment. Under his leadership, the congregation outgrew three buildings and became St. James-Paseo United Methodist Church, one of the largest churches

At a Glance

Born Emanuel Cleaver II on October 26, 1944, in Waxahachie, TX; married Dianne (a psychologist); children: Evan Donaldson, Emanuel III, Emiel Davenport, Marissa Dianne. Education: Attended Murray State College; Prairie View A & M College, B.A. 1968; St. Paul School of Theology; M.A., doctoral study in social ethics, 1970s.

Career: St. James United Methodist Church, Kansas City, MO, pastor, 1973-; Kansas City, Fifth District city councilman, 1979-1991; chairman of City Council Plans and Zoning Committee of Kansas City, 1984-1987; chairman of City Council Policy and Rules Committee of Kansas City, 1987-1991; Kansas City, mayor pro tern, 1987-1991; Kansas City, mayor, 1991-99; Kansas Citys Harmony in a World of Difference organization, founder and co-chair; Special Urban Advisor to the Secretary of the Housing and Urban Development, 1999-2000.

Memberships: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC; mid-central regional vice president), Alpha Phi Alpha; National Conference of Black Mayors (two terms as president); Democratic National Committee.

Awards: William Yates distinguished service medallion, 1987; Baker University, D.D., 1988; Greater Kansas City Urban Affairs Council, distinguished citizen award, 1991; Webster University, community service/leadership award, 1991; SCLC, Drum Major of Justice Award, 1991; James C. Kirkpatrick Excellence for Government Award, 1993; Missouri State, Conspicuous Service Medal, 1999.

Addresses: Office St. James United Methodist Church, 5540 Wayne, Kansas City, MO 64110.

in Kansas City, with an active membership of almost 2,000. And as his church grew, so did Cleavers political involvement.

Cleaver was elected to Kansas Citys Fifth District city council in 1979 and served three consecutive terms through 1991. He also served as chairman of the councils Plans and Zoning Committee from 1984 to 1987 and of its Policy and Rules Committee from 1987 to 1991. During the same time frame, Cleaver also was mayor pro tern of Kansas City.

Became Kansas Citys First African-American Mayor

Cleaver made political history in 1991 when he was elected the first black mayor of Kansas City. Sworn in on April 10, 1991, he became one of only a handful of black mayors in U.S. cities with predominantly white populations. Only 26 percent of Kansas Citys voters were black, and two-thirds of the citys 435,000 inhabitants were white at the time. Thus, Cleaver captured 95 percent of the black vote, 90 percent of the Hispanic vote, 90 percent of the Jewish vote, and 40 percent of the white vote, according to the Kansas City mayors office.

Cleaver, who succeeded Mayor Richard Berkley, out-polled fellow council member Bob Lewellen, carrying 53 percent of the vote in what was considered a relatively amicable mayoral race. And neither candidate focused on the issue of race. The key to the outcome was the candidate himself, commented political science professor and University of Missouri dean Max Skidmore in the New York Times. Cleaver managed to suppress the racial element. While holding on to his black support in the predominantly black wards, he was able to attract white support in all areas of the city. His whole career has been spent building bridges between the races. An Economist contributor expressed a similar sentiment, calling Cleaver a moderate black politician who tends to be less radical and confrontational than the most nationally prominent black politician, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and more willing to work with the establishment to achieve his goals.

This new Emanuel Cleaver is a far cry from the Cleaver who quit his directorship at the YMCA in 1972 because of what he referred to as vestiges of institutionalized racism. But Cleaver admits that he has changed his method of doing things. Reflecting on his days as a staunch activist, Cleaver told the New York Times: I think I have mellowed. But I think the nation itself has mellowed since then. I think I am a person who is still committed to social justice, but you cant legislate or negotiate and agitate at the same time.

Legislation and negotiation are what Cleaver focused on as mayor of a city that spans a two-state, eight-county area. Kansas City operates under a council-manager form of government, so much of Cleavers leadership depended on his ability to build consensus. Other than his title as mayor and his authority to appoint committee chairs on the council, his ability to set policy rested on the same single vote allowed any other member of the council.

Brought New Business into Kansas City

Kansas Citys economy benefits naturally from its central location and successful agribusiness, but the city has its share of problems as well, including an inadequate public school system and the too-small Kansas City International Airport. Taking advantage of the citys benefits and attempting to offset its drawbacks, Cleaver has focused his energy on courting new businesses. According to the Kansas City Business Journal, Within the first three weeks of his tenure, he scheduled four visits to attract business, including a bid to host some of the World Cup international soccer championshipa move that would put Kansas City in the global spotlight.

To attract new businesses, Cleaver improved Kansas Citys social offerings. No longer will people be able to say that Kansas City cant compete with Los Angeles or New York. Any time there is an opportunity for us to attract new business into Kansas City, expect us to go after it. The 90s will be the decade for Kansas City, Cleaver told the Kansas City Business Journal. The city embarked on beautification projects that improved the zoo, made the riverfront more attractive, and expanded the Bartle Hall Convention Center and built a cultural center to highlight the citys jazz and baseball history. The efforts succeeded. During Cleavers two terms as mayor (his second term started in 1995), the city attracted new businesses, including Transamerica, Gateway 2000, CitiCorp, Sommers-Allibert the Aquilla Division of Utilicorp, and Harley Davidson. The city won recognition as an Enhanced Enterprise Zone, and was awarded $25 million for the construction of a new industrial park.

Cleavers other accomplishments as Kansas Citys mayor included appointing the first female mayor pro tern, appointing more black men and women to city boards and commissions, establishing the Metropolitan Mayors Council, introducing and passing a tougher sexual harassment law, and maintaining efforts to allow citizens a direct voice to the mayor. His Mayors Night Hoops program offered youth a regularly scheduled, safe recreational event. He also co-founded the Harmony in a World of Difference organization, a local group dedicated a program aimed at reducing prejudice and increasing cultural awareness.

When he left Kansas Citys mayoral position in 1999 he had created a positive legacy for himself. To honor his tenure, Kansas City renamed one of the longest streets in the city Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard. After his term in office, Cleaver remained a local public figure, hosting a local public radio station talk show and continuing his service as pastor at the local St. James United Methodist Church. He also continued to work in the citys interests, fostering businesses and social programs. He served as Special Urban Advisor to the Secretary of the Housing and Urban Development shortly after leaving office, and in 2002 Cleaver began serving on the Diversity Action Council, an advisory board to Burger King Corp. that helps the company develop relationships with ethnic businesses. It seemed clear that Cleavers imagination for developing and energy for pursuing ideas that improved society would lead him to greater things yet.

Sources

Periodicals

Christian Science Monitor, April 4, 1991.

Ebony, September 1, 1991.

Economist, March 30, 1991.

Jet, April 15, 1991; August 2, 1993; April 2, 2001.

Kansas City Business Journal, July 12, 1991.

Los Angeles Times, March 27, 1991.

Nations Cities Weekly, April 1, 1991.

New York Times, March 1, 1991; March 28, 1991.

St. Louis Post Dispatch, May 12, 1991.

On-line

Saint James United Methodist Church, www.stjame-sumc.com (June 3, 2004).

Tom and Sara Pendergast

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"Cleaver, Emanuel 1944–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Cleaver, Emanuel 1944–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved May 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/cleaver-emanuel-1944-0

Cleaver, Emanuel 1944–

Emanuel Cleaver 1944

Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri

At a Glance

Sources

From civil rights activist to Methodist minister to his election as the first black mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, the Reverend Emanuel Cleaver II has changed his approach to social activism with the changing times. The Texas native grew up in Waxahachie, a small town near Dallas, where he and his family lived in a house that had been used as a slave cabin only one generation before. From the beginning, religion played an important part in Cleavers life.

Cleavers great-grandfather and grandfather were preachers, as were several of his uncles and cousins. However, Cleaver did not decide to become a minister until a knee injury prevented him from pursuing a professional football career. So the former Murray State College linebacker graduated from Prairie View A & M College in 1968 and completed his master of divinity degree at St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City.

At one time, Cleavers religious pursuits and civil rights activities went hand in hand. Time was when, if you were black and aspired to political office, you almost had to be a preacher and use your church as a base of support, Cleaver told the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

This combination of ministerial calling and civil rights pursuits pulled Cleaver away from the Lone Star State in 1968 when his mentor, the Reverend Ralph Abernathy, invited Cleaver to Kansas City to set up a chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the political and social group that Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abernathy had founded. Cleaver was apprehensive about going to Kansas City; he apparently feared that his civil rights efforts were not needed as much in such a small midwestern town, when racial tensions were boiling in larger cities like Detroit and Los Angeles.

But Cleaver soon learned that racial unrest wasnt limited to the larger cities. Kansas City was the site of its own riots and demonstrations, and at the heart of the social turmoil was Cleavers cousin, Pete ONeal, the founder of the Black Panther partys local city chapter. So Cleaver found himself inexorably drawn into the role of activist. In an interview with the Post Dispatch, he discussed his early days in Kansas City and recalled some of his more blatant methods of protesting social injusticeincluding sleep-ins with the homeless on the lawns of upscale department stores. Ive learned about some other ways to make the same points, he explained.

At a Glance

Born Emanuel Cleaver II, October 26, 1944, in Waxahachie, TX; married; wifes name, Dianne (a psychologist); children: Evan Donaldson, Emanuel III, Emiel Davenport, Marissa Dianne. Education: Attended Murray State College; received bachelors degree from Prairie View A & M College, 1968, and masters degree from St. Paul School of Theology; doctoral study in social ethics at St. Paul School of Theology.

St. James United Methodist Church (now St. James-Paseo UMC), Kansas City, MO, pastor, beginning in 1973; Fifth District city councilman of Kansas City, 1979-1991; chairman of City Council Plans and Zoning Committee of Kansas City, 1984-1987; chairman of City Council Policy and Rules Committee of Kansas City, 1987-1991; mayor pro tem of City of Kansas City, 1987-1991; elected mayor of Kansas City, March 26, 1991. Former director of the YMCA; founder and co-chair, Kansas Citys Harmony in a World of Difference, a program aimed at reducing prejudice and increasing cultural awareness.

Member: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC; mid-central regional vice president), Alpha Phi Alpha.

Awards: William Yates distinguished service medallion, 1987; D.D., Baker University, 1988; distinguished citizen award, Greater Kansas City Urban Affairs Council, 1991; community service/leadership award, Webster University, 1991; Drum Major of Justice Award, SCLC, 1991; distinguished service award, Park College, 1991.

Addresses: Office Office of the Mayor, 414 East 12th St., Kansas City, MO 64106; or St. James-Paseo United Methodist Church, 5540 Wayne, Kansas City, MO 64110.

One of the ways Cleaver found to make these points known came when he was a first-year seminarian assigned to the tiny St. James Methodist Church in the heart of Kansas City in 1973. At the time, the 27-member congregation worshipped in a ramshackle building that was condemned soon after Cleavers appointment. Under his leadership, the congregation outgrew three buildings and became St. James-Paseo United Methodist Church, one of the largest churches in Kansas City, with an active membership of almost 2,000. And as his church grew, so did Cleavers political involvement.

Cleaver was elected to Kansas Citys Fifth District city council in 1979 and served three consecutive terms through 1991. He also served as chairman of the councils Plans and Zoning Committee from 1984 to 1987 and of its Policy and Rules Committee from 1987 to 1991. During the same time frame, Cleaver also was mayor pro tem of Kansas City.

Cleaver made political history in 1991 when he was elected the first black mayor of Kansas City. Sworn in on April 10, 1991, he became one of only a handful of black mayors in U.S. cities with predominantly white populations. Only 26 percent of Kansas Citys voters are black, and two-thirds of the citys 435,000 inhabitants are white. Thus, Cleaver captured 95 percent of the black vote, 90 percent of the Hispanic vote, 90 percent of the Jewish vote, and 40 percent of the white vote, according to the Kansas City mayors office.

Cleaver, who succeeded Mayor Richard Berkley, outpolled fellow council member Bob Lewellen, carrying 53 percent of the vote in what was considered a relatively amicable mayoral race. And neither candidate focused on the issue of race. The key to the outcome was the candidate himself, commented political science professor and University of Missouri dean Max Skidmore in the New York Times. Cleaver managed to suppress the racial element.... While holding on to his black support in the predominantly black wards, he was able to attract white support in all areas of the city. His whole career has been spent building bridges between the races. An Economist contributor expressed a similar sentiment, calling Cleaver a moderate black politician who tends to be less radical and confrontational than the most nationally prominent black politician, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and more willing to work with the establishment to achieve his goals.

This new Emanuel Cleaver is a far cry from the Cleaver who quit his directorship at the YMCA in 1972 because of what he referred to as vestiges of institutionalized racism. But Cleaver admits that he has changed his method of doing things. Reflecting on his days as a staunch activist, Cleaver told the New York Times: I think I have mellowed.... But I think the nation itself has mellowed since then.... I think I am a person who is still committed to social justice, but you cant legislate or negotiate and agitate at the same time.

Legislation and negotiation are what Cleaver must focus on as mayor of a city that spans a two-state, eight-county area. Kansas City operates under a council-manager form of government, so much of Cleavers leadership will depend on his ability to build consensus. Other than his title as mayor and his authority to appoint committee chairs on the council, his ability to set policy rests on the same single vote allowed any other member of the council.

Kansas Citys economy benefits naturally from its central location and successful agribusiness, but the city has its share of problems as well, including an inadequate public school system and the too-small Kansas City International Airport. Taking advantage of the citys benefits and attempting to offset its drawbacks, Cleaver has focused his energy on courting new businesses. According to the Kansas City Business Journal, Within the first three weeks of his tenure, he scheduled four visits to attract business, including a bid to host some of the World Cup international soccer championship [a move] that would put Kansas City in the global spotlight.

To attract new businesses, Cleaver wants to improve Kansas Citys social offerings. Proposed projects to improve the citys attractions include $35 million to update American Royal Rodeo and Horse Show Complex, a new Jazz Hall of Fame, and a $50 million upgrade of the Kansas City Zoo. No longer will people be able to say that Kansas City cant compete with Los Angeles or New York. Any time there is an opportunity for us to attract new business into Kansas City, expect us to go after it. The 90s will be the decade for Kansas City, Cleaver told the Kansas City Business Journal.

Cleavers other accomplishments as Kansas Citys mayor include appointing the first female mayor pro tem, appointing more black men and women to city boards and commissions, establishing the Metropolitan Mayors Council, introducing and passing a tougher sexual harassment law, galvanizing the community in wooing commercial aircraft manufacturer McDonnell Douglas for business, and maintaining efforts to allow citizens a direct voice to the mayor.

Sources

Christian Science Monitor, April 4, 1991.

Ebony, September 1991.

Economist, March 30, 1991.

Jet, April 15, 1991.

Kansas City Business Journal, July 12, 1991.

Los Angeles Times, March 27, 1991.

Nations Cities Weekly, April 1, 1991.

New York Times, March 1, 1991; March 28, 1991.

St. Louis Post Dispatch, May 12, 1991.

Jomel Nichols

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