Congressman John Lewis Highlights Importance of Legal Aid

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More than 800 people attended Legal Aid’s 2011 Annual Report to the Community on October 18, 2011 at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel.

The theme of the event was “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” This theme was highlighted throughout the program by renditions of “This Little Light of Mine,” performed by graduate students from the Cleveland Institute of Music and high school students from the Cleveland Metropolitan Schools’ All-City Road Chorus.

From the podium, Colleen M. Cotter, Legal Aid’s Executive Director, provided a report to the community on Legal Aid’s programs and services in 2011. She focused on the theme of the evening and shared stories of how “Legal Aid is very much in the candle-lighting business.”

David Dawson, Deputy Director, and Ilah Adkins, Board President, presented staff service awards, and honored retiring board and staff members.

Congressman Louis Stokes, member of Legal Aid’s Board of Directors, introduced Congressman John Lewis as keynote speaker. Congressman Stokes, Lewis’ former colleague in the U.S. House of Representatives and long-time friend, regaled  attendees with tales of Lewis’ pursuit  for equality.

Congressman Lewis commended Legal Aid staff and volunteers for their efforts. “You find a way to help the least among us. You must never give up; never despair. Lift our heads and continue to march.” He appealed to the audience to continue fighting for what they believe is right. “We’re too quiet.” He challenged the crowd to “get in the way, get in trouble, necessary trouble, good trouble.”

Congressman Lewis urged the crowd to remember that no matter how much we try to point out each other’s differences, we are all members of the same community, both locally and globally. He implored the audience to put aside differences and work for justice: “We all arrived here in different ships, but we are all in the same boat now.”

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