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 Onumba.com based in Columbus. He can be reached by email at: Onumbamedia@yahoo.com