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Celebrating Black History Month: John Bustamante

8:32 AM, Feb 16, 2011   |    comments
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John Bustamante

John Bustamante died in October 2010, but he remains an icon in the community.

His life's work helped many blacks gain wealth, own their own homes and break down some racial barriers in the workplace. 

His life's work helped many blacks gain wealth, own their own homes and break down some racial barriers in the workplace. 

"So I know a vast majority of the community knows what he did, appreciate what he did," said Sonali Bustamante Wilson, his daughter.

Bustamante got involved in the civil rights movement after he met Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. while the two attended Boston University.

Wilson says as a child, it wasn't uncommon for the likes of Jesse Jackson or Arthea Franklin to stop by the house to discuss race relations.

"I guess we got caught up more in the mission than in the person. So it was exciting and enlightening at the same time," said Wilson.

Bustamante also got involved in politics and helped on the campaigns of many minority candidates, including Cleveland's first black mayor, Carl Stokes.   

"He believed that one way for equality had to be economic equality," his daughter said.

Bustamante helped establish the first black-owned bank, First Bank, and he was also a prominent attorney and became the publisher of the Call and Post newspaper.

"My brother and sister and I are amazed, we can't go anywhere without people telling us 'your father helped me establish my business; he helped me buy my first home,'" said Wilson.

She says he was a great father to his five children and taught them life lessons they are passing down to their children.  

"He taught us you can make a way for yourself, but always make a way for others as well. So success is helping everyone and not just yourself," Wilson said.

WKYC-TV

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