81/61: Progress and Barriers to Racial Equity

An original podcast series from the Greater Cleveland Partnership.

It’s 1981. Reagan was just inaugurated. Cleveland is emerging from default. We're reeling from manufacturing losses. Racial division abounds.

The Greater Cleveland Roundtable, a coalition of CEOs and community leaders, is searching for methods to regain their region’s growth and struggling with how to include folks of color.

81/61 reckons with their effort by exploring the organization’s lost document archive and to tell a story about where we have been in the last 40 years and how we might achieve racial equity in the next 40.

81/61 is generously supported by The George Gund Foundation. 

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I: No Seat at the Table

Cleveland’s accelerating racial division in the 1960s and economic slide in the 1970s inspired CEOs from Eaton, Standard Oil, TRW, and others to create a new civic consensus. Hear about how Cleveland’s default sparked an effort that aimed to include folks of color. 


II: Race Relations in 1981

Was the Roundtable an effort to fight the root causes of inequity, or just an attempt to keep racial unrest in Cleveland out of the headlines? We uncover a seminal study of Cleveland’s racial disparities and how Roundtable members like Mayor George Voinovich reacted. 


III: American Dream to American Nightmare

The early 1980s marked the beginning of a new trend: wage and wealth stagnation for the bottom 50 percent of workers. Learn about why Carole Hoover urges us to have serious conversations about opportunity. 


IV: Race or Labor Relations?

According to Dick Pogue, the Roundtable’s efforts to improve relations between labor and management was its greatest success. Using archival cassette tape of Frank Valenta of the United Steelworkers, we ask: how was this related to the Roundtable’s goal of inclusion? 

V: Wealth Creation

Entrepreneurship is a crucial wealth building strategy, but how accessible is it to most people? 81/61 explores the stories of how several Black female entrepreneurs got their starts.