Cleveland Restoration Society receives funding for an African American Cultural Heritage Fellow

The Cleveland Restoration Society has received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support a one-year, full-time African American Cultural Heritage Fellowship and is now looking to fill that position.

The Fellow’s primary duties will involve the implementation of the Cleveland Civil Rights Trail project, which will honor 10 sites that were significant to the African American Civil Rights movement in Cleveland between the 1950s and 1970s and remain relevant today.

Dr. Martin Luther King speaks in Rockefeller Park, East Blvd and Superior Ave in 1967. - Cleveland Memory ProjectThe Restoration Society in October 2019 was awarded $50,000 from the National Park Service for its project “In Their Footsteps: Developing an African American Civil Rights Trail.” The organization is one of 44 projects in 17 states collectively to receive more than $12.2 million in African American Civil Rights Grants to preserve and highlight stories related to the African American struggle for racial equality in the 20th century.

In February, the Restoration Society revealed the first three sites on the trail—Cory United Methodist Church, the Hough neighborhood, and Glenville High School.  

The Fellow will be responsible for creating a dedicated website that will provide in-depth information and multimedia content about each site on the Civil Rights Trail, provide context within the broader picture of the struggle for civil rights that continues today, and promote civil discourse and social change.

The Fellow will be responsible for researching, curating, and uploading content to the website; conducting oral histories with elders in the community; coordinating community events; and completing other tasks that are critical to project implementation.

Cleveland’s Modern Civil Rights Movement from 1954 to 1964 included demonstrations by Blacks for constitutional equality which contributed to presidential executive orders, the passage of two Civil Rights Acts, and the federal government’s military enforcement of civil rights to bring an end to segregation.

The Second Revolution in Cleveland, from 1964 to 1976, included activities of the Black Power Movement, which replaced the earlier strategy of nonviolent civil disobedience and advocated for Black pride, control over Black institutions, and self-determination over integration.

Even with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, there were still voting restrictions until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which protected voting for African Americans and other marginalized groups.

A supermarket destroyed by the Hough riots.By marking sites in Cleveland where events took place which were pivotal to changes in federal legislation and Black empowerment, our community honors the courage and steadfastness of those who brought about this legislative and social progress, Cleveland Restoration Society president Kathleen H. Crowther.

Crowther adds that she believes this project will go a long way in balancing Cleveland’s historic narrative in the urban landscape, which she says does not properly recognize the civil rights period.

 “The time has come for Clevelanders to more fully understand and appreciate that our heritage is intertwined with civil rights, and that, in the past, grave injustices were dealt to our fellow citizens,” she said in a statement. “While the struggle for civil rights continues on many fronts, by installing these educational markers and notating important places and events we hope to repair some of that injustice.”

For more information or to apply for the African American Cultural Heritage Fellowship, click here. Applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 26.