CLEVELAND — During the civil rights movement, the Cory United Methodist Church on East 105th Street was a beacon for safety and change.
“Cory was really the central gathering place for Cleveland during the civil rights movement,” said Kathleen Crowther, president of the Cleveland Restoration Society.
The church hosted leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X.
“They cultivated and created a community that was able to then carry out this history,” said Pastor Gregory Kendrick Kr. of Cory United Methodist Church. “I'm hearing stories of how people were part of the movement, the way in which they were involved, or perhaps the aunts or cousins or other family members.”
Now a special unveiling is taking place honoring the church's significance.
The Cleveland Restoration Society and Ohio History Connection are marking the Cory United Methodist Church as the first official historical marker on Cleveland’s new civil rights trail.
“In our 50 year existence, this project has garnered the most attention of anything, well that I have been involved with, for 30 almost 35 years,” said Crowther.
Crowther says the church building will undergo a restoration project.
“We're going to be restoring the exterior brickwork and terracotta work in the building,” Crowther explained. “We're also nominating the building to the National Register of Historic Places.”
The project is becoming reality thanks to funding from the national park service, which includes a $50,000 grant.
“These projects are very expensive and this is a huge building. So, this is a multi-year effort and fundraising campaign,” said Crowther. “I would like to see more markers installed in our landscape because this recognizes, edifies, gives credibility to this heritage.”
The grant also backing the installation of markers at the top 10 Cleveland sites connected to the Civil Rights movement between 1954 and 1976.
So far, two other sites have been selected including Glenville High School. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech on the school’s grounds in 1967 before the city elected its first Black mayor, Carl Stokes. The other marker will be located in Hough neighborhood honoring the Hough civil rights riots that spanned five days during the summer of 1966.
“There will be a QR code on the markers that take you from your cell phone to the website,” said Crowther.
The website’s development is still in progress, just as the civil rights legacy and its lasting impact on Cleveland carries on.
To learn more about the civil rights trail, click here.