By Ed Runyan
The U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer eliminating a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Stand Your Ground laws in states such as Florida were the focus of a talk by former local television personality Dr. Ron Daniels.
Daniels, who also ran for Youngstown mayor and taught at Youngstown State University, was keynote speaker for the Youngstown Warren Black Caucus annual dinner Friday night at the McGuffey Centre on the city’s East Side.
The event honored longtime community activists Atty. William “Ron” Miller and his wife, Lynnette Miller, for their work with the Harambee Youth Organization for more than 30 years and other activities.
“They are steadfast soldiers in the struggle for justice and have lived their lives accordingly,” said Jaladah Aslam, caucus president.
Daniels, a Youngstown native who is a distinguished lecturer at City University of New York and who ran for president of the United States in 1992, knows the Millers from his years in Youngstown.
He called them “outstanding community leaders who exemplify serving the community.”
Daniels, in a preview of the talk he gave the large gathering, said the 2012 killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., by block-watch volunteer George Zimmerman “is a metaphor of what’s happening in America.”
He said people need to take a stand against Florida’s Stand Your Ground law because it encourages violence and racial profiling.
“The case is symbolic of many difficulties people suffer from in the inner city — the image of the dangerous black man.”
Daniels called for a boycott of Florida, a top tourism and conference-destination state, and Florida-grown orange juice.
That type of political activism was a theme that ran through the comments of many of those in attendance. The crowd included numerous city, school and state officials and candidates. State Sen. Nina Turner of Cleveland, a candidate for Ohio secretary of state, was mistress of ceremonies.
One of the goals of the Youngstown Warren Black Caucus is to “make sure that African Americans in the Youngstown and Warren area are at the table in the political process,” Lynnette Miller said.
Her husband said being recognized by the caucus “says we can all be great because we all can serve. That’s what my wife and I have done is try to serve.”
Aslam said the Millers were selected for the honor because they have “given to children and people in the community the whole 40 years they’ve been married.”
Lynnette Miller, a Youngstown City Schools teacher for 35 years, and William “Ron” Miller, who was president and CEO of the Youngstown Area Urban League for 12 years and an assistant Youngstown prosecutor for seven years, have been “go-to people” for community service for many years, Aslam said.
“You get so used to calling on them to help with projects — mentoring youth, voter registration — but you don’t always think to say ‘thank you,’’” she said of the Millers.