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Karamu House gets face-lift, hopes to draw visitors to historic theater

Posted at 5:52 PM, Mar 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-01 18:53:13-05

CLEVELAND — A historical site in Cleveland is getting a face-lift in hopes to draw more visitors to its doors.

Karamu House is the oldest African American theater in America. It served as a meeting place to strategize during the Civil Rights Movement. It was also the stop for many African-American artists.

Karamu House CEO, Tony Sias named some of the artists that have made appearances at Karamu House.

“Robert Guillaume, or Ruby Dee, Langston Hughes even. Vanessa Bell Calloway, Imani Hakim,” Sias said.

Karamu House isn't just a place artists performed, it also houses a rich history and culture.

“Our role in social justice and Civil Rights: there were more busses that left Karamu House than any place else in the state of Ohio. The stories that are told here, may not be told in other environments in the same way, because it centered around culture," Sias said. "Karamu House was the premiere training ground for African American artist. If you had Karamu House on your resume, they knew you were formally trained."

Sias said Karamu House recently renovated Jelliffe Theatre, which sits inside Karamu House. The theater is named after the facility’s founders.

More renovations on Karamu House are being planned.