Mayo's Community Involvement

Mayo Makinde cares deeply about his community. He doesn’t just talk the talk. He walks the walk. As one of the most active community organizers on the East Side, Mayo Makinde has never shied away from speaking truth to power.

As a young adult, Makinde joined the local and state NAACP and got involved in Simba Nation, a youth mentoring program. With other Simba Nation members, Mayo visited Oakland, Calif., for a national conference dubbed “The Gathering for Justice for Youths.” There, he met singer/activist Harry Belafonte and film star Danny Glover, both organizers of the group.

Mayo’s experience with Simba Nation later prompted him to organize a youth program called “Counseling and Encouraging Minority Youth.” As part of this program, Makinde teaches youths fundamental skills of better decision making when faced with sex, violence and drug-use challenges.

As Makinde became more involved in community organizing, he joined a group of older Columbus men called the Thursday Luncheon Club. The group included such local giants as the Rev. Phale Hale, a long-serving member of the Ohio House, and Bill Willis, a star football player for Ohio State and the Cleveland Browns. “I was the youngest guy there,” Makinde remembers. “I was like a sponge, soaking up their wisdom and advice.”

Inspired by these men, Makinde plunged deeper into community organizing. He gradually gained a reputation as a problem-solver who could get City Hall to listen.

The stories of his successes are legendary. Here are just two:

In 2009, serious budget problems resulted in the city threatening to close a dozen neighborhood recreation centers, many of them located in the inner city. Mayo led the campaign to reverse this decision. As part of this effort, Mayo brought together faith-based leaders, city officials, the Columbus Blue Jackets and other community activists. The result of this public-private partnership: The centers remained open. His involvement in this grass-roots campaign led the Brentnell Recreation Center to name Makinde vice president of its Community Recreation Council.

When a Somali youth objected to a “Blue Lives Matter” sign hanging above the front door of the police station at Cleveland and 11th avenues, he knew who to call – Mayo Makinde. Over lunch at a neighborhood cafe, Mayo told then-Councilman Michael Stinziano the sign was especially objectionable because so many unarmed black men were being killed by police nationwide. Mayo then showed the councilman the sign and said, “This is not the way to improve police-community relations.” The next day the sign was removed.

Makinde continues to spread the word about the importance of community activism by being the host of WCRS-Radio’s Global View, a political talk show. As a so-called “recycling ambassador,” Mayo helps educate neighborhood organizations about the city’s blue container recycling program.

Makinde is also a member of the Franklin County commissioners’ New American Advisory Council, which aims to make central Ohio a more welcoming place for recent immigrants.

He is also a former chair of the South Linden Commission and former president of the East Columbus Civic Association.