Cleveland: The New Stokes

After taking office as the first Negro mayor of a major U.S. city, Cleveland's Carl Stokes disappointed even his most loyal supporters. His first five months produced little but petty errors, squabbles and a deepening frustration that so vibrant a campaigner could be so dull an incumbent. Then came Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination, and Stokes, 40, tearfully walked through Cleveland slums, trying to avert the violence that was to inflame 168 other American cities. He succeeded, and that April night seemed to bring the mayor to rousing life.

Four days spent in cooling the slums gave Stokes time to...