Judge stresses hope in MLK keynote speech

HOWLAND — Hope is an “action word” that requires consistent effort if it is to materialize into success, said Judge Carla J. Baldwin, the first African-American woman to hold a judgeship in the Mahoning Valley.

Baldwin, Youngstown Municipal Court judge, was the keynote speaker Saturday at the Avalon Inn for the 31st annual Salute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., hosted by the Trumbull County Chapter of the Asa Philip Randolph Institute.

In order to highlight the year’s theme — “There’s still hope for a brighter tomorrow” — Baldwin said she drew inspiration from former President Barack Obama.

“Hope is believing, acting and fighting for things. Hope is an action word,” Baldwin said.

For hope to develop into a dream reached, you have to choose to follow through at every step, to refuse to be derailed, Baldwin said.

In a notebook Baldwin kept as a teen, she made a Nov. 7, 1997, entry that stated she wanted to be a judge when she grew up, she said. And on Nov. 7, 2017, the dream came true, although she was the first in her family to get a law degree.

“You have to choose hope,” Baldwin said.

Knowing who you are, where you come from and defining your goals by thinking them through are a necessity, Baldwin said.

“You have to know who you are,” she said. “You have to know who you go home to, who you are accountable to.”

That is part of Steven Arnold’s job as head coach for the Warren G. Harding Raiders — the first African American to have the job. Arnold accepted the institute’s Community Service Award.

Coaching at the high school is about more than playing football, Arnold said. It is also about preparing the students to become young men.

Arnold said he keeps the students aware of how slim the chance is to play professional sports, and keeps a deflated ball in his office to remind the students that they need a plan for when ball playing stops. Because even those that make it to college teams or the NFL are not likely to have a chance to play for more than a few years, Arnold said.

The insitute’s state president, Andre Washington, spoke about the institute’s efforts to challenge and defeat Ohio’s voter roll maintenance policies that strip voters of their registration if they don’t vote for six years and don’t answer a state query card.

APRI saw victory in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted appealed the decision up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard the case earlier this month. A ruling is expected midyear, Washington said.