Remembering Respected Call & Post Editor Connie Harper
A legendary Cleveland journalist died over the weekend, Call & Post associate publisher Connie Harper.
"My name is Constance Harper, but everybody calls me Connie,” Harper said in a YWCA video, after winning a Women of Achievement Award last year. “I'm the editor and associate publisher of the Call & Post newspaper, which is Ohio's number one black newspaper. It's always been part of my passion to give back, and do something for the community..."
The YWCA award was just one of many of her honors. Harper was slated to be inducted in the Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame next month. She died after becoming ill in the Dayton-area over the weekend.
For more reflection on Connie Harper's death, ideastream’s Tony Ganzer called Cleveland-area State Representative Bill Patmon.
PATMON: “There are folks who are considered the core of your community, because they’re substantive, and serious, and of high integrity. And I don’t care where you go, there are just a few of those folks who represent and who work in our community in a high-profile job—she was one of those. And actually I do not even see anybody on the horizon that would come close to replacing her. She gave you her word, and you could count on her, and she was serious about it.”
GANZER: “She was of course the associate publish of the very important Call & Post newspaper in Cleveland, but you talk about her civil engagement; she really was part of the community.”
PATMON: “Absolutely. Often times, especially for the African-American community, the news portrays us in a certain light. You see folks who do things, and being taken away in handcuffs. The good news, in many, many cases, came from Ms. Harper and the pages of the Call/Post, and how she constructed them. That will be sorely missed, and again, she engaged us in many, many ways. I sat before her myself in editorial interviews, and the one thing I came away with, always, was that it was going to be fair, and that it was going to be serious engagement.”
GANZER: “What do you think—I know it is hard to pick out one or two things—what do you think her greatest strength was, in that role as associate publisher? Was it an introspective tone? Was it a critical view of the community?”
PATMON: “If I’d say anything about her it was: her strength. She would not be swayed or guided or put-upon by anybody about her particular view of something and she held to that. She had convictions that were unshakeable, and that’s the thing that I come away with when I think about her and her passing.”
GANZER: “You said that you couldn’t see anyone else on the horizon to step into those tremendous shoes. What do you think is missing? Is it the leadership?”
PATMON: “It’s a number of things, but if I were to say something it would be: we have a saying about Old School. Old School usually means you keep your word, you’re there on time, you’re a very serious person. And I don’t see anybody who’s built a tremendous community profile, and would be taken in the manner that she was. That’s just Connie, if you will.”
GANZER: “For people who may not know much about Ms. Harper, what do you think people should remember most, or a few things?”
PATMON: “A few things they should remember, is she was a hall-of-fame journalist, and she is a role model worth imitating. And I would love to see some young folks who will imitate what she has done for our community over the years.”