During my pastorate of the Family Baptist Church in Toledo, Ohio, I was also the director of human relations for the Toledo Board of Education. The chairman of my trustee Board walked into my office one day and placed a check for $10,000.00 on my desk, and when I asked him what it was for, he said, “the man across the street told me to give it to you. The man was offering me a bribe not to oppose his liquor license.
At the time, if you wanted a license to sell Liquor and your busines was within five hundred feet of a church or school, you had to get permission from both the school and the church. Since I was the director of human relations for the schools and pastor of the church, the man needed my permission for both. I said to my chairman, “You know better; if I believe in something I would do it for nothing, and if I don’t nobody’s got enough money to pay me. He took the check and left. But before he left, he said, “I told him that I didn’t think he would d it, but he wanted me to try it.”
I certainly hope that all of the Toledo Councilman are innocent of the charges that have been leveled against them. The law says that they are all innocent until they are proven guilty by twelve people. If you are black, you might be innocent then.
I served on a grand jury, and how well I know how easy it is to be indicted by a prosecutor, who brings in the right witnesses who say the right thing, and the right thing is usually what he wants them to say. So, I am asking that my fellow brothers and sisters wait before jumping to conclusions about any of this. We don’t know how it is going to come out. None of it.
At this time, I want to believe that they are as innocent as I was when I was offered that bribe as pastor of the Family Church, and director of human relations for the Toledo public schools.
I know them, all of them, Yvonne Harper was the wife of the former head of the NAACP, and Larry Sykes was the chairman of the Education Committee
of the NAACP, when I was its president. Although I didn’t know the other two that well, I have no reason to believe in their guilt at this time. As sons and daughters of slaves, as Africans living in America, we all know how easy it is to be convicted, and it doesn’t matter how innocent you are. It happened to black councilman in Dayton and Cincinnati, as well. Like the Toledo Branch of the NAACP, I certainly hope that we’ll just wait until all of the facts are in. In the meantime, I wish Yvonne Harper, Larry Sykes, Gary Johnsons, Keith Mitchel, and Tyrone Riley, well.