CLEVELAND — Earl F. Peoples, Sr., a much-admired and beloved former staff member of Ohio Citizen Action, died in March at the age of 85. Earl was a soft-spoken and gentle man, who drew people to him with his earnest conversation and unquestionable dedication to social justice.
Earl spent many years canvassing door-to-door for us in the Cleveland area, and had special literature printed up with his personal slogan: “Earl Peoples, the People’s Choice!”
We asked current and former staff who knew Earl well to share some of their memories. Many of us remember the time he brought his friends who had been Tuskegee Airmen in to brief the canvassers, and how justifiably proud he was of his role in starting the Golden Buckeye Card Program. Earl was very active with small business associations, community organizations in his Cleveland neighborhood, organizations advocating for elderly people and his church.
A natural-born organizer, Earl was always handing out literature for the many issues he was working on, as well as giving awards to others. He had so many wonderful stories to tell, including about when he was a teenager during WWII, he was made an overseer on a German POW camp/plantation in Louisiana.
Earl was decades older than many of the college-age canvassers he worked with at Ohio Citizen Action. What a role model he was for them. And he never complained about going door-to-door in Cleveland winters, even into his seventies!
Our condolences go out to Earl’s family and friends. He will always be a part of Ohio Citizen Action.