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Civil Rights Trail highlights momentous times and places in Cleveland's Black history

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Posted at 4:12 PM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 18:32:27-05

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Restoration Society told WEWS it is putting together plans for Civil Rights Trail Marker Locations. Currently, there are three spots that will be featured along the tour: Cory United Methodist Church, Glenville High School, and the Hough Neighborhood are the first of ten marker sites.

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Map of the first three markers on the Civil Rights Trail in Cleveland.

CRS said, according to researchers and scholars, Cory UMC was the largest Black church in the city during the 1950s and 60s. Through the many services the church provided, it became a key venue for organizing and a key platform for civil rights leaders to speak to Black listeners. W.E.B. Du Bois and Thurgood Marshall addressed the congregation from the pulpit. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at the church numerous times.

“Cory was known as the Black mother Methodist church in Cleveland,” said Pastor, Gregory Kendrick Jr. “The headquarters. History is the things that happened, legacy is what continues to carry on into the future, going deeper, getting more granular, to the root. The future for us is about going deeper with the folks in our community. I feel what my call is: to align with those who do. We can focus on those who don’t, but there are so many who are willing to say I want to walk with you. because I know it’s important for me and your family, but for you and your family.”

The CRS African American Civil Rights Trail Committee said it chose Glenville High School as one of the trail sites because of its location and the speech given to high school students by Dr. King in 1967. He targeted his message at young people and their ability to participate in non-violent, social change.

“Preserve those spaces that tell those stories,” said President of Cleveland Restoration Society, Kathleen Crowther. “We need focal points to tell the stories. It is the opportunity to bring these topics up to the community and to educate. The heart of what we do relates to storytelling. It’s giving life to the brick and mortar of what remains. It’s really the stories of that are associated with these places that are the most significant.”

The Hough Area will be included in the tour because of the uprisings that occurred in 1966, which Crowther said were the result of "the culmination of years of oppression, overcrowding, lack of opportunity, lack of decent housing."

According to CRS, this project is supported through a grant from the African American Civil Rights grant program as administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. The project has also been funded in part by a grant from the Johanna Favrot Fund for Historic Preservation of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“I’m grateful to journey in this place,” said Pastor Kendrick.

Learn more about the African American Civil Rights Trail from the Cleveland Restoration Society here.