For 100 years, the City Club of Cleveland has provided some of the world's most inspiring leaders an open forum and all of us a chance to hear them in person. Here are five favorite moments from the club's storied history. Jason Brill
Robert F. Kennedy spoke there the day after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, and Jane Fonda made an appearance in 1973 on the heels of her controversial opposition to the United States' involvement in Vietnam. Since it was formed in 1912, the City Club of Cleveland has served as a place where words are never minced and free speech reigns. Seven U.S. presidents, business leaders and ideologists have all spoken at the weekly forums broadcast as far away as Portland, Ore. The City Club will mark its 100th anniversary Oct. 18 with a forum titled Power of Ideas2. "It's about the power and ability of individuals to transform communities," says Jim Foster, the City Club's executive director. "That harkens back to so much of what we do week after week after week." The benefit event will feature KeyCorp president and CEO Beth Mooney, Cleveland Clinic president and CEO Toby Cosgrove and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. Here's just a taste of the history that has taken place at the City Club's podium.
"No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people."
— Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, April 5, 1968.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination the day before Kennedy's City Club appearance led him to scrap his planned speech and instead deliver "On the Mindless Menace of Violence." Two months later, the menace claimed his life too.
"From as far back as I could talk and think about not being a free person, I was very vocal. But people didn't care to listen. They thought I was insane, and that there was no such thing as defying the white power structure in the Deep South."
— Rosa Parks, March 8, 1985.
Parks spoke almost 30 years after refusing to give her bus seat up to a white man, an act that sparked the Civil Rights Movement.
"When another politician comes up for election of office, ask yourself those questions. Is he a generous man? Is he really a courageous man? Does he have fortitude? Is he wise? Is he a spiritual person? Ask yourself those questions. Those are what we do as Indian people and those are what we teach to our children."
— Ronald S. McNeil, July 28, 1995.
A descendant of Lakota Chief Sitting Bull, Ron His Horse is Thunder — McNeil's tribal name — is a former president of the American Indian College Fund.
"He's my friend. We were roommates; he took me in. I probably am as close to Sandy [Alomar] as anyone because of what he did for me as a young player. He cooked me scrambled eggs one morning, and I think I hit a home run, and I told him, 'You gotta keep cooking scrambled eggs.' "
— Jim Thome, Oct. 24, 2011.
The former Indians designated hitter and first baseman was interviewed in front of the City Club by Tom Hamilton, who's called many of his home runs.
"It is a very great privilege to be participating in this series under the aegis of the City Club of Cleveland, which has been outstanding in promoting tolerance and the freedom of speech, which has sought to say it is possible for people to differ and yet to be able to live amicably together. I commend this club very, very warmly for being a beacon, a symbol, and a sentinel for freedom, for justice, for tolerance."
— Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sept. 23, 1999.
After delivering this opening, Tutu bent down and chimed the City Club's famous gong, saying, "On behalf of freedom!"