State of Ohio

A conversation series: One-on-One with Ohio Black legislators debuts in the Call & Post,

By , June 9, 2011 | 12:21 am | 0 Comment

A conversation series:  One-on-One with Ohio Black legislators debuts in the Call & Post,

ONUMBA.COM – The protracted paucity of fresh postings on is obvious, to say the very least.  We certainly regret it.  Over the last couple of weeks, it may have appeared as though we dropped everything and embarked on a fun-filled vacation.  But that wasn’t it.  Actually, the explanation for our rare taciturn is quite contrary to such perfectly understandable speculation. 

The thing is, because we pride ourselves in pursuing topical news to offer our readers quality product, not just chucking stuff out there just to fill up the space, we have been busy working to bring you a healthy mix of news reporting, political analysis and most recently, the best of interviews with newsmakers in Ohio, including our plan to offer a rare penetrating peep into the life, career and thinking of the men and women who represent the Ohio African-American community in the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate.

We have been putting all of this together and the result is something that has never been done before, certainly not to our knowledge.  And that is, Ike Mgbatogu, the Call & Post and columnist will be sitting down with each member of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC), in a wide-raging, meaty conversation over a gallimaufry of subjects including their background, politics, faith, future plans, their dreams and aspirations growing up.  The lawmakers will also discuss a miscellany of other issues including diversity and inclusion, their heroes, their views on Malcolm X, what they think about Africa; whether they have been there or even care to go.

The parley on politics and government will navigate the shoals of party partisanship as it interfaces with the anfractuosity of governance, where each member will tell us what they make of Gov. Kasich, his first 100 days in office, his policies, and his support for controversial Senate Bill 5, House Bill 1, and the $55.6 billion biannual budget.  They will tell us whether they have met the governor one-on-one and how that played out, obviously, mindful of the frosty and tumultuous nature of the relationship between Kasich and members of the caucus.

So, the next time you see Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard, who recently had her one-on-one with Ike, fighting and defending programs for the poor, the middle-class and the minority communities, think of her as an intensely progressive politician who, believe it or not, never planned to be in politics, but rather, was earlier in her life on a confident trajectory to become a ballet dancer, an actress and a singer, the “next Lena Horne,” if you will. 

Also, think of her as a profoundly devoted public servant who was born in Chattanooga, Tenn., (not in Akron where she grew up) with a Godfather from Nigeria, friends in Ghana and a ferocious desire to travel the African continent she holds exceedingly dear as her beloved ancestral home.

The full interview of each member will appear each week in the Call & Post Newspaper, with intriguing excerpts posted here in that week, and then the full interview the week after.

All told, expect a landfill of information from this.

Rep. Heard’s ‘one-on-one with Ike Mgbatogu’ is on this week’s Call & Post issue.

Now, having said all that, it is quite possible there are some folks (and there’s no rosy way to say this) who may be totally oblivious to all of this, or may not even know who their representative are, or perhaps belong to a phalanx of the politically aloof crowd who take the work of these legislators for granted. 

But just so all of you know, the 15 members of the OLBC are collectively, without a doubt, the loudest and most effective voice of the Black community in Ohio government.  With a commendable mix of diligence and vigor, they form a plexus of relentless bulwark and cathead of minority vigilance fighting back a tide of legislative proposals they believe to be hostile and baneful to the interest of the Black community. 

In short, without this covey of folks, African-Americans could be the first to be “run over” by that proverbial “bus” that tough talking Kasich talked about shortly after he took office.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of based in Columbus.  He can be reached by email at:

Copyright 2011 The information contained in the news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Onumba Media Group.


Editor's Choice , Featured , Politics , State of Ohio

Ray Miller retires: praises rained on him for decades of service

By , January 23, 2011 | 6:36 am | 0 Comment

Ray Miller retires:  praises rained on him for decades of service

ONUMBA.COM – One of the most productive legislators in the history of Ohio Ray Miller retired January 13, 2011. 

A throng of people braved the frigid weather that day to come and be a part of an event organized to pay tribute to him after decades of public service.

The event was held at the Lincoln Theatre in the King Lincoln District on the eastside of Columbus near the neighborhood where Miller grew up. 

“We salute his brilliance and his boldness,” said Bishop Timothy Clark, Senior Pastor of the First Church of God.

In attendance were government, religious and community dignitaries including Rev. Leon L. Troy, Pastor Emeritus of the Second Baptist Church; Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman; State Senator Charleta Tavares; State Representative Sandra Williams; Columbus City Council Member Hearcel Craig; Ako Kambon, President of the Visionary Leaders Institute; Cheryl Boyce, former Director of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health and others.

Miller represented the 15th senatorial district in the Ohio Senate. 

State Senator Charleta Tavares spoke at the event.

“I refuse to say he is retiring, because it is antithesis of who he is,” said Tavares, a longtime friend and colleague of Miller who replaced him in the Ohio Senate.

Miller, described by Coleman as the “Father of Head-Start Funding,” is not departing the public arena, though. 

So what’s next for Miller? 

“What I have always done,” he said, in his speech.  “I do indeed have miles to go before I sleep.” 

Miller said that he will be working on several initiatives tackling such issues as “health disparity, family stability, history of African-Americans, and others.” 

He is planning to host a conference on ‘family stability’ on April 8 and 9.

Coleman characterized the retirement event as “a terrific tribute” for a man he said “changed this community.” 

Indeed, Miller accomplished a lot as a legislator. 

The legislations he authored established the Ohio Commission on Minority Health, the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services and Head Start Funding.

Working with Dr. William E. Nelson, Jr., Dr. James Upton, Dr. Judson L. Jefferies, all of The Ohio State University Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS), and Carla Wilks of the AAAS Community Extension Center, Miller founded The Ray Miller Institute for Change and Leadership in 2006. 

He is also the founder and President of the Center for Urban Progress.

Miller’s legislations gave birth to several initiatives, including the First Ohio African American Hall of Fame, Institute for Urban Change at Central State University; Passage of Health Data Reporting, and with State Senator David Hobson, sponsored the Mental Health Act of 1988.

Miller, a ferocious Democrat, lashed out at Kasich for assembling a cabinet devoid of inclusion, a hint that he will remain involved in debates over public policies.  Retirement doesn’t mean he quit his passion for public service.

Miller, a graduate of East High School, graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration.

Miller, who is married to Marlene, has held numerous appointments, including serving as the White House Deputy Special Assistant to President Jimmy Carter, Assistant Director of Legislation for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and Vice-President of Minority Affairs for Columbus State Community College.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of based in Columbus.  He can be reached by email at:

Featured , State of Ohio