Although the current leader of the NAACP's local chapter is trying to block Cincinnati's planned streetcar system, two former leaders of the organization are coming out in support of the system in a big way.
Milton W. Hinton and Judge Nathaniel R. Jones have endorsed a “no” vote on Issue 48, the proposed anti-rail charter amendment that will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot in Cincinnati.
Issue 48 is being pushed by Christopher Smitherman, president of the NAACP's local chapter, in conjunction with the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST), an ultra-conservative group. Smitherman has temporarily stepped down as NAACP president while he runs for City Council as an independent.
Hinton served three terms as head of the NAACP's local chapter. Under his leadership, the organization grew from 700 to 3,500 members and achieved fair housing agreements, creation of a Citizens Police Review Panel and minority participation in riverfront development, among other activities.
Before he served 22 years on the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Jones served 10 years as general counsel to the NAACP's national office. In that role, he directed a long list of historic legal battles including the landmark Mississippi boycott case that affirmed the First Amendment rights of civil rights protesters.
Hinton and Jones will speak at a press conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday on the steps of City Hall, located at Plum Street downtown. They will discuss their support for affordable, growth-oriented transportation and opposition to Issue 48.
Also, Hinton has taped a radio commercial for the “No on Issue 48” campaign, which is now airing on WDBZ (1230 AM) and WIZF (101.1 FM), two radio stations geared toward a predominantly African-American audience.
If Issue 48 is approved by voters, it would impose an outright ban on any passenger rail project within Cincinnati city limits until Dec. 31, 2020. Due to its wording, the ban would affect any source of funding regardless if it was federal, state, local or privately financed.
Others who have urged a “no” vote on Issue 48 include the League of Women Voters, the Charter Committee and the Chamber of Commerce.