Cleveland and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were no strangers to each other, just from the number of film clips in our vault that’s easily said.
My description of the individual appearances and speeches can in no way match the man himself, so please take some time to listen to his powerful words.
Some of the non-speech clips are silent.
King in Cleveland 1963-1965
The earliest film I was able to find of King in Cleveland is dated May 14, 1963.
King’s arrival in Cleveland followed his highly publicized protest movement and arrest in Birmingham, Ala. the month before. Three more pieces of film in the first segment are from his appearance here in 1965.
NewsChannel5 anchor Leon Bibb was able to identify the church in the first segment. Leon told me the church was most likely the Heights Christian Church in Shaker Heights, where King was not permitted to speak in the church.
As you’ll see, King’s visits were accompanied by protests. Mixed among his appearance in Shaker Heights, you'll get a quick glimpse of protestors outside the old Cleveland Arena. At the 2:32 mark, the marquee reads Wednesday, July 28 for the King mass rally.
King in Cleveland 1967
The second clip in the video player contains some 12 minutes or so of King in Cleveland. The first sound bite is King talking on what it will take to stop the rioting in America's cities.
Carl Stokes was running for mayor of Cleveland and King was in town to get Clevelanders to register to vote.
Stokes would beat Mayor Locher in the primary and beat Republican Seth Taft in the November election to make Stokes the first African American mayor of a major U.S city.
King met with Taft as Taft spoke for opportunity and equality for all citizens.
King talks about Cleveland’s election following Carl Stokes primary victory. You’ll also hear him speak on racial problems in the U.S, as well as how the boycott of Sealtest dairy products in the city is progressing.
The boycott was part of Operation Breadbasket which was used to helped inner city African American residents use their buying/boycotting powers to change hiring and business practices.
Accompanying King at one speech is legendary Clevelander the Reverend E. T. Caviness of Greater Abyssinia Baptist Church.
King’s last appearance in Cleveland in our archives is from late November 1967. A few months later, King would be dead, killed by assassin James Earl Ray, April 4, 1968.
[Click here to see Leon Bibb’s story on a Cleveland man who was a cab driver in Memphis and was at the Lorraine Motel when the assassination occurred.]
Cleveland after King’s assassination
We begin with flags in Cleveland at half-staff the day following King’s death and Carl Stokes at a memorial service at Congregational Methodist Church two days later.
Next is King’s wife, Coretta, in Cleveland four days before the 1976 election campaigning with Walter Mondale. Mondale was Jimmy Carter’s vice presidential running mate. You’ll also see Louis Stokes, Howard Metzenbaum and Dick Celeste in the video.
Finally, her appearance in Cleveland in 1975 speaking on the Civil Rights movement.