A Rose in Outhwaite


(Moderato Con Moto)








(Child’s laughter… babbling…)



I am the son of Michael Hood

Of Baltimore and

Yvonne Walker of Elkhart


Two, who met here

In the center

In this heart shaped state


Best known

As the heart of it all

In this Great Lake city

Of Cleveland


Where I was born,

Like many from here,

On Martin Luther King Drive


From here, these Heights,

The Great Lake

Is almost imperceptible


Save the predictable coolness

Blown southeast

From our northern shores


From here, these Heights,

Kinsman, Buckeye, Woodland

Dive in elevation


Into a lowland basin

Formed millions

Of years ago


A space that cradles

A relatively young Lake Erie

Of only about 4,000 years


A lake born yesterday…


Just as I

And you all

In the scope of time


From here, these Heights,

The Great Lake is hidden

Like many of our local histories


Down through

Our Forest City,

Down through Kingsbury Run,


Down through the soul

Of our city,

Down the Way


There is so much history

All around us

Hidden in plain view


History that requires

The light of love

To be revealed


From here, these Heights,

Where I stand

Just off this intersection


Of Avalon and Winslow

Are the crossroads


Of my childhood and

Where I now live


Here, is the heart

Of my hometown,

Shaker Heights


I am a son of these schools

A son of these parklands

A son of our idealistic heritage


Of the North Union

Of the Civil Rights Movement and

The Student Group on Race Relations






We are present

With the past of this place


And perhaps

We are also

Present in the future


A future that is contained

Both within this day

And in time past


Present also

Are the echoes

Down the corridors


Of our memory

Of missed opportunities

Of all that might have been


Doors we never opened

The doors

To the rose garden


Today we gather

To consider the rose

And metaphor…


When people gather

Such as this

We often other


Who we are missing

And who we have



Here today some of us may consider

Marcia Jaffe,

The co-founder of the Student Group on Race Relations,


A very special student organization

Here in the Shaker schools;

And we are sad she is among the later


Whose dedication

To creating a better community in Shaker,

Was incomparable and


A monument

Of commitment

Who challenged an entire community


Who challenged a generation

Of parents and children

To stand for higher ideals


While deeply understanding

The deep roots

Of bias


Who became the root

Of culture in Shaker

A culture she challenged us to protect!


In this city,

This place,

For years,


There has been

A persistent call

For higher ideals


And is fundamental

To the meaning of this place

It is truly the community spirit


Marcia Jaffe

Captured this spirit best

And her love


For this place

And for its people

Continues to move us


Although she is no longer with us,

Her spirit

Is still very much alive


In our


Many of our living rooms


And even travels

The world within

So many of our hearts


She is on my mind ‪this morning;

Among the others

You are considering also this morning…


What I mean is,


This call for love and justice

Is a call that is common

To this community


And I do so

In honor of

This place and its meaning



We remember

Martin Luther King Jr.


Who spoke here,

At this church,

In 1965


Who supported Carl Stokes

In his run

For Cleveland mayor


Today, we remember

King’s message

Of love and justice


Today, we remember a generation

Whose call for civil rights,

Was a call for higher ideals


Who saw the best minds

Of their generation



Whose call for civil rights,

Is same the persistent call for higher ideals

That is essentially the American spirit itself


It is the spirit of our

Declaration of Independence

And our Constitution


A spirit,

Of which each of us

Has inherited equally


And are bound to maintain

And protect together,

Such is the duty of the people…


Martin Luther King’s place

In our Democracy

Is special,


His message of love and justice

Gave greater depth to the very meaning

Of the American Spirit


His message moved the

American Spirit



His call for higher ideals,

Is America’s persistent

Call for higher ideals


The same call America made to British rule

The same call women made for suffrage

The same call for higher ideals


Was made new


By Martin Luther King


This man made martyr 

Helped many of us live

To be whom we are


So we celebrate

We speak

We sing


But quietly still

We suffer

A cultural loss


A suffering that is both


And in plain view


Even this long

Into a new century

We are still a nation


That is haunted

By a past

That also our present


We remain moved by tragedy

And inspired by the act

From which we suffer


And if truly so moved

We cannot also reject those actors,

Although we reject their acts 


In a call for higher values,

A call for love

And justice


For the heart is not a fortress

And love is not a rose

Without thorns


I ask you to take in this moment yourself


To no longer take things second or third hand


Or look ‪through the eyes of the dead


Or look through my eyes


I ask you to listen


To all the sounds


And filter them yourself


From here





From here

I have considered

Where from love comes


And why?


I ask you to consider

Whether these questions are as fundamental

As the meaning of life?


Whether love is deeper?

Whether love

Is the meaning?


Love overwhelms

From concept

To physical response


It is at once

Enlightened and visceral,

At once joy and sorrow


This paradox, this complexity

Is specifically

What makes us human


In my preparation,

In my reading,

Even while walking the dog


Often around

This church,

I wondered


Is it the poem

Or the meaning

Of the poem?


Another question

That leads me to ask you

To consider


Whether it is being

In the moment or the meaning

Of the moment?


And from where

Do we derive



Today, I say

It is the meaning of the poem

It is the meaning of the moment


That, also


At the heart of meaning,

Beyond all complexities,

There must be love…


That love is the meaning,

Love is the language and

Love is the best measure of humanity


The heart

Of anything

Is the center


The heart

Is also central

To the concept of love



Love in action

Brings us to center


Love is connection


Love is the bliss

Of communication

And understanding


For love

To be what fundamentally

Brings us together


In our homes,

In our communities,

For what supplants our very humanity


Love is surprisingly absent

From civil discourse

And public policy


Too often we demean love

And compassion

As weakness


As though love in action

Is not the great work

Of humanity itself!


When we know well hard work

Is not truly completed

Without love


Knowing well

There is much

Hard work ahead


It has become clear

To me

Truth’s pact with love,


Its promise

To reveal suffering,

Is fundamental to humanity itself


It has also become clear to me

Love is in need of



Before justice can reflect truth

Before justice can be truly meaningful

As love in action


For love and justice

From here, these Heights, I call

For love and justice


For there is

Also a rose

In Outhwaite





When you lose

Something you love,

It changes your life


Sometimes that loss is great enough,

It inspires you to seek change

For the lives of others


Such is this love



Is one of the oldest public housing estates in our country

Dating back to the early 1930s


Located in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood

Between 55th and 40th

And Woodland and Quincy


I had the opportunity

To serve its residents

As property manager, last year


I knew the estate’s history

I knew about the Stokes brothers

I heard stories about how it used to be


I considered this position to be an incredible opportunity

To work in the community

To make a difference


My first day on the job,

We had what was a typical morning staff meeting,

But for me, it was new and introductory


I can recall

Our property leader,

Ms. Parker,


Saying directly to me

In my eyes

When the meeting started


“This team here,

Is a family;

And it’s all love”


That’s what she said,

I know,

I take great notes


I looked at the team,

And they were like that’s right;

And that’s what it was, really


As an accountant,

Coming from the finance department,

This was out of the ordinary


More so, it was transformational

And to Ms. Parker

I am so thankful


Only, she did not tell me

Truly how large

The family was…


It was


And soon spring



Is seriously a place


Where it is

As though

Early spring blossoms


Seem like they may

Last forever


Where summer

Just seems

To appear one day


I learned the estate grounds quickly

And began to notice any changes


Anything broken

Or anything requiring



When summer is at its peak,

Deep within the courtyards,

There are roses


Not many,

But are spread throughout the property;

Planted some time ago by residents


The more I got to know the grounds,

I got to know the community

And listened to stories of love and loss


Soon these roses became a metaphor

For what I learned

And to whom I listened


That love

Is beauty and pain

It is joy and sorrow


That to possess

All the beauty

Is to leave others in pain


That love

Is the only way

To see a path to justice…


It is not my intention here

To tell a story

That is not my own,


Nor can I

Give you the feeling

That leads me here today


I can only tell what it means to me

That it helped me to live

And love truth


That true justice is love in action


I call this day for higher ideals


My name is Michael Hood


Will anyone respond?








February 14, 2020



Written for the

Rally for Love and Justice

Heights Christian Church

Shaker Heights, OH

February 15, 2020


North Union – North Union Shakers were early religious settlers of Shaker Heights.

SGORR – The Student Group on Race Relations is a student organization in Shaker Heights started in 1983.

Eliot, T.S. Four Quartets. 1936. Reference to Burnt Norton.

Ginsberg, Allen. Howl and Other Poems. City Lights Books, 2001. Reference to Howl.

Whitman, Walt. Song of Myself. Penguin Classics, 1996.

Reference to lines from the first stanza of the poem.

Eliot, T.S. Murder in the Cathedral. Harcourt & Brace Company, 1935. Reference to the Interlude.

King, Martin. Strength to Love. Fortress Press, 2010. This is the book I purchased when I began the campaign. It was recommended to me, I suppose, in a lecture I saw, on YouTube, by Cornel West.

Komisar, Lucy. The New Feminism. Franklin Watts, Inc., 1971.

Baudelaire, Charles. Windows. New Directions, 1970.


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