City Club of Cleveland

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Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff answers questions at the City Club

The City Club of Cleveland was incorporated in 1912 as a non-partisan forum for debate. The club's home is the City Club Building, formerly the Citizens Building, in Downtown Cleveland. Known as "America's Citadel of Free Speech", it is the longest continuous independent free speech forum in the country and generally considered one of the top three speaking forums in America.[1]

Membership is open to anyone and all programs are open to the general public, although members are charged lower prices to attend most forums and given preference in making reservations to certain programs.


The City Club has hosted sitting U.S. Presidents and Vice-Presidents and other notable citizens of the United States and the world.[2] Archbishop Desmond Tutu called the club "a beacon, a symbol and a sentinel for freedom, for justice, for tolerance" when he spoke there.[3]

The first President to have appeared at the City Club was Theodore Roosevelt; every President since Jimmy Carter has appeared at its podium.[4] President George W. Bush spoke to the club on the third anniversary of the United States' invasion of Iraq. Because the City Club of Cleveland does not allow questions from the audience to be pre-screened, President Ronald Reagan declined to appear before the Club, but when questions were raised by the media about his mental acuity, Reagan sought out an appearance before the Club to refute those charges.[citation needed]

The day after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy gave his "On the Mindless Menace of Violence" speech at the club.

In 1976, as part of the United States Bicentennial, the club held a forum in Britain, the club's first outside the United States.[5]

Debates before the Club have swayed Ohio elections. Before John Glenn defeated Howard Metzenbaum in the 1974 Democratic Senate primary, Glenn responded to a charge in an earlier debate that he never had to make a payroll:

"I served 23 years in the United States Marine Corps. I served through two wars. I flew 149 missions. My plane was hit by antiaircraft fire on 12 different occasions. I was in the space program. It wasn't my checkbook; it was my life on the line. It was not a nine-to-five job where I took time off to take the daily cash receipts to the bank. I ask you to go with I went the other day to a Veterans hospital and look at those men with their mangled bodies in the eye and tell them they didn't hold a job. You go with me to the space program and go as I have gone to the widows and orphans of Ed White, Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee and you look those kids in the eye and tell them that their dad didn't hold a job. You go with me on Memorial Day, coming up, and you stand in Arlington National Cemetery, where I have more friends than I'd like to remember and you watch those waving flags. You stand there, and you think about this nation, and you tell me that those people didn't have a job, I'll tell you, Howard Metzenbaum, you should be on your knees every day of your life thanking God that there were some men - SOME MEN - who held a job. And they required a dedication to purpose, a love of country and a dedication to duty that was more important than life itself. And their self-sacrifice is what made this country possible..... I HAVE HELD A JOB, HOWARD! What about you?"[6]

During the 2010 Congressional elections, in which the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives, John Boehner on August 24, 2010, announced a five-point plan at the club that he said would provide an effective economic alternative to the Democrats’ course.[7]

Sometimes politicians avoid appearing at its forums because it would provide exposure to their opponents in a political race. Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who complained vociferously about being excluded from debates among the Democratic candidates for President, has several times refused to debate his opponent for Congress in The City Club of Cleveland debates.[8]

The club has been criticized for bestowing its "Citadel of Free Speech" award upon Justice Antonin Scalia, who then refused to allow his speech to be broadcast. The Board of Trustees of The City Club defended its actions by noting that the press was welcome to attend the special presentation and report upon the event.[9] Other recipients of the Citadel of Free Speech award include John Glenn, Martin Luther King's aide, U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, and CNN founder Ted Turner.[10]

Friday Forum[edit]

The City Club's Friday Forum is broadcast live on the radio in more than 40 states from Maine to Alaska. The broadcast is initiated live on WCPN in Cleveland, Ohio, with an encore broadcast Friday evening on sister station WCLV. Most stations, including the Clear Channel station group in Cleveland, airs the Friday forum as part of their Sunday morning public service requirements.[11]

Notable guests[edit]

Regina Brett addresses the City Club

and many more.[18][19][20]


  1. ^ "Encyclopedia of Cleveland City Club of Cleveland". Retrieved 16 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "City Club of Cleveland History". Retrieved 16 September 2014. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Cho, Janet, Plain Dealer, July 22, 2005
  5. ^ Segal, Grant, Plain Dealer, July 30, 2011, "Bob Cavano, led City Club, several other civic groups"
  6. ^
  7. ^ [Hulse, Carl, New York Times, August 24, 2010 "Boehner Urges Obama to Fire Economic Team"]
  8. ^ [Kotz, Pete, Scene, March 20, 2007 "Kucinich is a Hypocrite"]
  9. ^ [Savage, David G., Los Angeles Times, March 20, 2003 "Some 'Mystified' by Award to Scalia for Free Speech"]
  10. ^ Spector, Harlan, Plain Dealer, May 19, 2012, "Cleveland's City Club honors media mogul Ted Turner with free speech award"
  11. ^ City Club of Cleveland website, About Us page
  12. ^ President Discusses War on Terror and Operation Iraqi Freedom, White House Press Release, March 20, 2006 [1]
  13. ^ Remarks of Senator Robert F. Kennedy to the Cleveland City Club, Cleveland, Ohio, April 5, 1968, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum [2]
  14. ^ Remarks to the Cleveland City Club - Bill Clinton speech - Transcript, Bnet Business Network [3]
  15. ^ Reagan, Ronald, 'Ronald Reagan, the wisdom and humor of Great Communicator', 1995 Harper Collins [4]
  16. ^ BEWARE OF TAMMANY, WARNING TO SULZER; Speakers at City Club Dinner Advise Him to Appeal to the Larger Constituency., New York Times, December 20, 1912 [5]
  17. ^ Akil Marshall speaks to youths about staying on the right track in school and life., Call and Post FRIDAY, 18 JANUARY 2013 [6]
  18. ^ a b Beres, Tom, WKYC-TV, Cleveland, October 26, 2008
  19. ^ City Club of Cleveland website, Speakers page
  20. ^ Mitchell, Sandy,, February 14, 2008

External links[edit]