State Reps. David Leland (D-Columbus)—aka “Mr. Baseball”—and Thomas West (D-Canton) reintroduced legislation today to honor Moses Fleetwood Walker, the nation’s first professional African American baseball player, by designating Walker’s birthday of October 7 as “Moses Fleetwood Walker Day” in the state of Ohio.
“Walker stood tall and persevered in the face of the incredible bigotry and discrimination he experienced throughout his career,” said West. “His legacy of bravery, which continues to inspire us today, deserves the proper recognition this legislation will bring.”
Born and raised in Ohio, Walker attended Oberlin College in 1877 and played on the school’s first varsity baseball team. His skill as a catcher and batter led to Walker being signed by the Toledo Blue Stockings in 1883, where he would begin his professional baseball career.
“Walker prevailed against all odds, overcoming obstacles to break into professional baseball during one of our nation’s bleakest periods,” said Leland, who also serves on the board of trustees for the Columbus Clippers, the Cleveland Indians’ Triple A farm team. “We introduce this bill today with the hopes of cementing Walker’s rightful place in history as the first African American to play major league baseball in the United States.”
Walker’s career in baseball was cut short when both the American Association and the National League unofficially banned African American players in 1889. It would not be until 1947 when the color barrier was finally broken by the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson.
The two lawmakers introduced this legislation in February in honor of Black History Month, and also the first day of Major League Baseball Spring Training—February 13.
Similar legislation was previously introduced during the 131st General assembly, received wide bipartisan support and unanimously passed out of the House of Representatives.
Democratic lawmakers today called on the Governor John Kasich to recognize the devastating opioid addiction epidemic for what it is: a public health emergency. At a statehouse press conference this morning the lawmakers said the state must have a strong, unified response and release emergency state funding to combat the statewide opioid crisis that is claiming lives in rural areas and urban centers alike.
“The first step in any road to recovery is admitting that you have a problem, and it’s time for the administration to recognize the opioid addiction crisis as the public health emergency that it is,” said Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron). “Too many Ohio families are losing loved ones to drug addiction and overdoses. We must marshal all available state resources and attention to fight back against this rapidly growing threat to our communities.”
State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron), today responded to Gov. John Kasich’s Thursday comments at the Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative and the state’s actions to combat the opioid epidemic. The governor’s optimistic comments came on the same day the Ohio Department of Health released the report on 2015 Ohio Drug Overdose Data stating fentanyl-related drug overdoses more than doubled from 2014 to 2015. And the numbers continue to climb. For July 2016, Summit County alone experienced an estimated 395 overdoses, which matched the total number of overdoses in the county for the four months prior combined.*
“State leaders still refuse to call the opioid epidemic what it is: a public health crisis,” said Johnson. “It is imperative we remain hopeful and positive, but only if we are also employing all available resources to the law enforcement officers and treatment providers on the front lines. There has yet to be a coherent, statewide response to this devastating public health crisis that is killing more Ohioans than ever before. Summit County is doing a tremendous job at treating and preventing overdoses in my district, but with greater funding and direction from the state, we could be doing far more.”
State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) today announced a new plan to assist struggling communities hit hardest by Governor Kasich’s budget cuts and tax shifting policies over the past several years. Since taking office, Gov. Kasich cut over $1.7 billion in local community funding. Over 70 cities have lost at least $1 million each year due to Kasich’s budgeting and tax decisions, and 12 small cities have lost at least $2 million each, per year.
Ohio House Democratic members hosted a press conference today to speak out against the recent attacks on women’s access to healthcare. Led by State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron), the lawmakers introduced a package of bills aimed at securing and expanding women’s access to comprehensive healthcare services.
WATCH Rep. Johnson deliver her powerful closing above.