Historical African-American Civil Rights Trail underway in Cleveland

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — A new effort is underway to honor the civil rights movement for African-Americans in Cleveland. 

The Cleveland Restoration Society is working to create an African-American Civil Rights Trail. It would include the installation of 10 Ohio historical markers at chosen locations across the city significantly associated with the civil rights movement between the years 1954-1976. 

“The civil rights story of the north, of Cleveland is different than in the south, so we are going to create what I think will be the first official trail with markers in a northern city,” said Cleveland Restoration Society President Kathleen Crowther.

Cory United Methodist Church in the Glenville neighborhood is one of many locations under consideration. 

“It was the sight where Martin Luther King spoke on many occasions,” said Crowther. “Also Malcolm X which is really interesting because these two civil rights leaders had different views of the world.”

The project called, “In Their Footsteps: Developing an African American Civil Rights Trail in Cleveland, OH” is the result of a $50,000 dollar grant from the National Parks Service.

“It’s kind of marvel that you know something like this hasn’t been done before,” said Stephanie Phelps, Event Specialist for the Cleveland Restoration Society.

Olivet Institutional Baptist Church with a tradition of activism for civil rights could also receive an Ohio historical marker.

Although churches played a significant role in the push for civil rights in Cleveland the struggle for equality also occurred in places like the Hough neighborhood, notably its 1966 uprising where the National Guard was called to assist. The neighborhood remains under consideration as well for the African-American Civil Rights Trail. 

“The Hough uprising, some call riots … wounds I would say exist from the Hough uprising that need to be understood so we can take action to improve the lives of people today,”  said Crowther.

Several of the final historic sites are expected to be announced next year.

“A lot of these things are not taught in the history books or somehow become skewed,” said Phelps.

“So I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for younger people to learn.”

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