Wednesday, February 12, 2003
Some Good News
Civil rights warrior honored
David McPheeter, 81, the first director of the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission, received a proclamation Tuesday honoring him as Citizen of the Day during a luncheon at the Bankers Club.
The honor comes from a bunch of his bridge-playing buddies.
McPheeter plays bridge with the group twice a month at Hammond North in College Hill, where he and most of them live.
"This honor is because he has done a lot in civil rights and for the city of Cincinnati and he was also a Tuskegee Airman," said John Fierro, a bridge partner. "And he is a good bridge player.''
McPheeter's experience as a Tuskegee Airman was short-lived, he said. He entered the program in Tuskegee, Ala., in March 1943 as a second lieutenant after finishing the military officers training school.
"I was really excited because I really wanted to be a pilot," McPheeter said.
Although he left the program in June that year without finishing, McPheeter said that was one of the greatest experiences in his life.
"I met so many highly educated African-Americans. Even though I didn't finish, that experience gave me more confidence I had ever had," he said.
He later became a photographer, a fund-raiser for the Urban League in New York and for Planned Parenthood.
He was an event planner for New York Mayor John Lindsay in the office of public information.
When he came to Cincinnati in 1966 to head the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission, a makeover of the old Mayor's Friendly Relations Committee, he was the ideal point man for improved race relations in a city starving for it.
McPheeter is a native Cincinnatian. He saw the problems quickly.
"This town is ripe for a Los Angeles-type riot," McPheeter warned. But nobody listened. A year later, riots swept through the city.
As he accepts his award 37 years later, he said he sees the same problems. He chairs a committee on racism and diversity for Citizens For Civic Renewal.
"You cannot deal with race and diversity until you have proper communication," McPheeter said. "We have to find a way to get information to people, especially minorities. We are simply not communicating with each other."
He said he is still fighting the same fight, but he appreciates the honor he received.
From 10 to 11:45 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, a community blood drive will be conducted at Best Western Springdale Hotel and Conference Center, 11911 Sheraton Lane.
The drive is sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cincinnati and Hamilton-Fairfield, Hoxworth Blood Center and the University of Cincinnati Medical Association. To make an appointment to donate, call Mary Beth Dunn at 300-3081 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allen Howard's "Some Good News'' column runs Sunday-Friday. If you have suggestions about outstanding achievements, or people who are uplifting to the Tristate, let him know at 768-8362, at email@example.com or by fax at 768-8340.
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