Fannie M. Lewis
Ward 7 Councilwoman, City of Cleveland

Councilwoman Fannie M. Lewis of Ward 7, which includes the historic Hough neighborhood, is one of Cleveland’s greatest living legacies of public service, having served on Cleveland City Council since January 1980. She is widely respected for her fierce dedication to serving her community and her city.

In recent years, this dedication led to the Fannie M. Lewis Cleveland Resident Employment law, which requires that construction projects receiving $100,000 or more from funding from the City, to employ people who live in the city on those projects.

Councilwoman Lewis was also the lead fighter in a case upheld by the U. S. Supreme Court. The court ruled that student vouchers could be used by the Cleveland Municipal School students to attend private schools in the community. When the landmark ruling was issued, the New York Times snapped a photo of the council lady coming down the steps of the United States Supreme Court. The newspaper ran this quote. “The poor children in poor school systems now have a fighting chance.”

Councilwoman Lewis has faced many problems in her lifetime, some of which seemed to be insurmountable. She says that the key to overcoming her life's challenges was recognizing that God that was in her.

In her early years, Lewis learned to put her own problems aside and to place her energies into worthy causes, leading to her involvement in politics. Lewis became a representative to Community Action for Youth; the Hough Community Council; the League Park Center; the Ward 7 Club; and, she assisted veteran Councilman such as the late Charlie Carr and the late James Bell. In 1968, she became the Citizen Participation Director for the Model Cities program where she acquired her knowledge of funding and politics. She supervised the investment of $90 million into neighborhoods. Because of this experience, she became even more vigilant for increased government funding in her beloved Hough community.

It is impossible to chronicle all of the activities and deeds that comprise Lewis' life of public service. Lewis reflects on her innate sense of responsibility to others: "As a result of being on welfare, I have personally experienced the many pitfalls and the hurts that are felt at those times. The constant fear of being removed from public assistance and of not being able to stand without that crutch, forced me to dig deep inside and pull every ounce of fortitude just to survive. Surviving that experience has helped me to help others "get off the merry go round", to dig for dignity, and to feel comfortable in sharing their experiences. I came to do a job, and that job is with whomever and whatever my hands find to work with. I must take it and make whatever I need to move on in this life looking for a better world."

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