Our profiles of Columbia's Top Ten Black Leaders continue
Best known for his work with troubled kids, Columbia's Get Out the Vote Committee, and his rough rise from the tough streets to community leadership, Imani Mission co-founder Glenn B. Cobbins, Sr. is a big man with a big handshake who is never afraid to call it as he sees it -- even if that means challenging the establishment, either black or white.
Rather than jump for joy on news that NAACP leader Mary Ratliff -- another leader on our list -- had successfully pushed the Columbia City Council to appoint a black representative to the city's previously all-white Ward Reapportionment Committee, Cobbins immediately took a philosophical step back.
"Glenn B. Cobbins Sr., who has friends and family in the First Ward, said having a minority figure on the committee sounds like a good idea," the Missourian reported. "But, Cobbins said, that person needs to be familiar with the culture and the community's issues. He thinks an interview process for nominees would ensure a person was appointed on the grounds of justice, not political correctness."
This writer first met Cobbins on the school board campaign trail in 2005, when he asked at a forum why Columbia Public Schools didn't have more black culture and history resources, particularly regarding Columbia. The question made us candidates uncomfortable, perhaps because the truth of Columbia's past hurts.
Cobbins also challenged Almeta Crayton's nine-year City Council tenure with the city's first recall effort in over a decade and helping move the city's famous Shotgun House, formerly on the corner of Worley and Garth, to the Boone County Historical Society, he made another salient but contrarian statement: "My people should be doing this," Cobbins said. "It is, after all, part of our heritage."