It Starts with One: A Reflection on Black History Month

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Every Black History Month, the media presents countless stories of the great and inspiring achievements of African-Americans.

The stories range from the traditional hallmarks of black history including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Harriet Tubman to local Cleveland icons such as former NAACP President George Forbes and the Stokes brothers, Carl and Louis.

But the most compelling story, for me, involves a 14-year-old boy named Emmett Till. This young man, who went by the nickname Bobo, lived on Chicago’s South Side in a middle class black neighborhood with his single mother, Mamie Bradley.

In the summer of 1955, Emmett visited relatives in Money, Mississippi. On August 24 of that year, he reportedly flirted with a white grocery store cashier. Four days later, Roy Bryant, the cashier’s husband and grocery store owner, along with his half-brother, J.W. Milam, kidnapped Emmett from his uncle’s home. He was then taken to the bank of the Tallahatchie River where they beat him, shot him in the head, and disposed of his body into the river.

Three days later, Emmett’s corpse was recovered. His face was unrecognizable due to the mutilation and the effects of exposure to the water. He was identified only by his late father’s signet ring on his finger, which Mamie gave him before he traveled to Mississippi.

Emmett’s mother chose to have an open-casket funeral and to leave her son’s body in Roberts’ Temple Church of God on display for 5 days.

Her motive, she said, was to “Let the world see what had happened because there is no way I could describe this.”

Images from Emmett’s funeral later became iconic, spurring numerous books and documents and even a ballad by the great Bob Dylan.

Soon the nation’s attention turned to Money, Emmett Till Murder Front Page NewspaperMississippi to watch Emmett’s murder trial unfold. Despite his uncle’s courageous testimony, identifying Bryant and Milam as Emmett’s murders, the all-white, all-male jury acquitted both men of all charges after only 67 minutes of deliberation.

A few months later, Bryant and Milam sold their confessions of the murder and details to Look Magazine for $4,000. Double jeopardy laws prevented them from ever being convicted again after their acquittal.

The cold-blooded murder of this innocent young man, coupled with the perversion of the criminal justice system, galvanized the nation to demand change in the form of civil rights legislation.

One hundred days after Emmett’s death, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on an Alabama city bus. Her actions set forth the year-long Montgomery bus boycott.

Parks would later say, “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear.  Knowing what must be done does away with fear.”Rosa Parks - Civil Rights Activist

For so many of my clients, knowing “what must be done” has given them the courage to bring claims. All of the many class action lawsuits I have handled started when one individual stood tall and said, “Something needs to be done.”

Henry David Thoreau, in Civil Disobedience, discusses our duty to recognize the wrongs of our society and take action to eradicate them.

In our modern society, those acts of civil disobedience result in lawsuits against those corporate entities that expose us to unnecessary harm and danger.

The story of Emmett Till and the legacy of the black civil rights movement inspire me and my clients to keep “fighting the good fight.”

Because, as Abraham Lincoln said, “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”

And, we will protest.


Once a Viking, Always a Viking: Revisiting Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School

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Yesterday I returned to my alma mater, Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School to film a series of episodes of Getting Legal with Tim Misny, which airs every Friday at 7:55 on CBS 19.

I first walked into the “Viking Village,” at E. 185th St. and Lakeshore Boulevard in Cleveland, as a freshman in the fall of 1969. I remember how overwhelmed and intimidated I was. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t remember the combination to my locker.

The years went by in the blink of an eye, but to this day I still relish in the relationships I forged with faculty and classmates during my time at St. Joseph Hvilla angela cleveland alumni Misny speaks to classigh School.

What I cherish most, though, are the teachings of the Marianist Brothers, who instilled in us a sense of social purpose. We were taught that it is noble and honorable to look out for the less fortunate and to seek justice whenever possible.

I am happy to report that those teachings are as prevalent as ever at VASJ. Last year, the enrollment for the incoming freshman class was up 25% and all indicators show that this fall’s enrollment will be augmented in a similar fashion.

But the most impressive statistic is that 100% of VASJ’s most-recent graduating class is attending college. And in doing so, they have received in excess of $3.5 million in tuition scholarships.

In my brief encounter with the VASJ students during my question and answer exchange yesterday, I am even more encouraged about not only the future of this proud institution, but the young lives that will eventually emerge beyond the high school walls and become leaders in our society.

When St. Joseph merged with Villa Angela in 1990, they integrated two religious orders, the Marianist Brothers and Ursuline Nuns. These two fabled teaching religious orders continue to produce men and women who possess not only exceptional educational aptitude, but also of equal import, a rock solid moral code that can withstand even the most corrupting influences that our modern society has to offer.Alumni Cleveland wrongful death attorney Misny speaks at Villa Angela Cleveland

As I told the students yesterday, they may not realize yet just how fortunate they are to be attending Villa Angela-St. Joseph, but I guaranteed each and every one of them that some day they will appreciate the sacrifices their parents made, the loving dedication of staff and faculty, and last but not least, their own hard work.

I can’t wait to return to the Viking Village. Because in the words of the late, great VASJ football coach, Bill Gutbrod, “Once a Viking, always a Viking!”

Texting and Driving: Getting Legal 102

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When you are texting and driving, you are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident.  Today’s Getting Legal- what we can do about texting and driving.

If you’ve been involved in a texting and driving accident, I’m here to help. Contact my office today and let’s talk.

The Test of Society

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Recently, I had the besCleveland-boys-and-girls-clubt breakfast I have had in recent memory. And, believe it or not, I didn’t eat anything.

My friend, Dan Salamone, invited me to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland’s 7th Annual Youth of the Year and Recognition Breakfast.

I didn’t make it in time to sample any of the enticing breakfast spread that was provided by Heinen’s. But, nevertheless, the event was enlightening and inspiring. The keynote speaker, David Condon, had some shocking statistics about our nation’s youth.  Every eight seconds, a student drops out of high school. The high occurrence of teenage suicides and criminal convictions is equally astonishing.

We as a society have failed our youth, or at least it seems that way based on those numbers.

But in the midst of this sad and depressing reality, is a bright beacon of hope, and that torch is held high by the wonderful people who comprise the Boys & Girls Clubs.

Even harder to hear was the truth about the long-term consequences of juvenile delinquency. David revealed that the long-term financial consequences of our failing youth, and they are mind-boggling.
For instance, the Boys & Girls Club in one city focused on reducing teen pregnancies. They were so successful that they not only reduced, but totally eradicated any and all pregnancies among teens in that area. The projected savings to that city and county, as a result of the Boys & Girls Club efforts, were estimated to be $50 million.

Today’s recognition breakfast showcased real stories of real people who, against all odds, have changed lives for the better.  Each story had a common denominator – the Boy’s and Girl’s Club.

When all seemed lost and despair was overwhelming, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland provided not only a safe haven, but also a place where each individual was accepted, encouraged and given the resources to rise above and become contributing members of our society.

I’m so glad that Dan invited me to this morning’s breakfast. After witnessing firsthand these remarkable testimonies, I feel compelled to help out in some way.

I was lucky enough to grow up in Cleveland with family to support and guide me, and because of that I know how important it is for our youth to know they are worthwhile and valuable.

It reminds me of this beautiful quote from German poet and pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “The test of morality of a society is what it does for its children.”

The Boys & Girls Club event really brought that home to me.

It was definitely the best breakfast I never had.

West Side Market – Help Them Out!

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West-Side-MarketI love the West Side Market.

Whenever I am hosting an out of town visitor, I make sure to take them for a quintessential Cleveland experience.

This Cleveland landmark is a treasure that has allowed local vendors to cultivate relationships and serve the city for over 100 years.

It is an experience like no other. The atmosphere is exhilarating. The range of local products, from pierogies to sausages to ethnic pastries is endless.

If you’ve never been, you have to go. You’ll be blown away by the architecture and atmosphere of this open-air market. You’ll be hooked!

In fact, I like the West Side Market so much that I insisted on filming there for my reality show, “Misny Makes Them Pay.”

You can imagine my devastation when I learned the West Side Market suffered a fire on Jan. 30 and has temporarily shut its doors.

Thankfully, no lives were lost and the historic building sustained no structural harm.

But The West Side Market’s spirit is in its people, the vendors who have sold their wares for generations.  The heavy smoke damage put more than 100 vendors out of work and even worse, damaged their inventory and materials. These small business owners have lost their source of income and tragically, some of them may never recover.

The West Side Market is expected to up and running within a couple weeks.  Ohio City Incorporated wants to give the vendors a much-needed boost.  They’re planning a “Cash Mob” event tentatively for Saturday, March 2, or the first Saturday after the market reopens.

The rules are simple: show up anytime that day and plan on spending at least $20.

I can tell you from experience, you can spend $20 within 20 minutes at the West Side Market without even trying.

My West Side Market shopping routine is tried and true. First, I always make sure to bring several friends, including some newcomers. Once we get there, we separate, each person is assigned a specific purchase be it coffee or pastry or sandwiches. Then we rendezvous on the upper tier and feast on delicacies while overlooking the market’s hubbub.

After we’re finished we continue on with our methodical shopping, each person leaving with several bags in hand.

Cleveland, I encourage you to join me on Saturday, March 2, and please spread the word to all of your friends.

If for some reason you cannot join the Cash Mob, you can still help the affected vendors by making a donation through The Michael D. Symon Foundation, Inc. for West Side Market Vendor Relief at at

I’ll see you on Saturday, March 2 and I’m sure you’ll agree with me that supporting a great Cleveland cause never tasted so good!

The Lighter Side of Tim {Getting Legal 100!}

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