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Black Leaders Discuss Inspiration, Barriers As Part of Black History Month Event

photo of David Crosby, Simone Richardson
David Crosby (left) works with veterans in Northeast Ohio who may be suffering from substance issues. Simone Richardson organized the event for the Akron-Summit County Public Library.

Leaders from Akron’s black community shared inspirational stories during a Black History Month event at the Akron-Summit County Public Library. But they also talked about a particular challenge that’s hard to overcome.

The “Who Inspired You?” event was part of the library’s Black History Month programming, and included local leaders discussing their mentors as well as the barriers they’ve faced in life. David Crosby cited his Mother as his main inspiration. Today, he works with the Summit County Valor Court and the VA to counsel other veterans. He says addressing mental health challenges is one of the barriers facing many people in the black community, especially veterans.

“The guy that came from Vietnam, who was what they think is shell-shocked – well, he has PTSD. There are a lot of people that are not going for mental help because of the stigma, as well as being a minority or black.”

Crosby adds that the Cleveland VA is working to better train counselors in cultural competency, since a communication gap can exist for black veterans.

Another speaker was Timothy Anderson, who started the Fallen Fathers Foundation three years ago to run after-school programs in Akron and stress the importance of male role models.  Now, he's planning a "My Father, My Hero" Valentine's dance for this Saturday. He says people in Northeast Ohio need to find ways to work together to ensure success for young people.

“If we can come together, I feel like we can accomplish so much in the community.  Whether it be mental health, workforce development, athletics, education -- it could be anything.  But we have to bring back that village.  That village is so huge in the success of these future generations.”

Other speakers included Akron City Councilwoman Linda Omobien and Municipal Court Magistrate Tamara Todd.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.