African American Civil Rights Path continues to spotlight Cleveland historical past

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Posted: Mar 23, 2021 / 6:58 PM EDT
Updated: March 23, 2021 / 6:58 p.m. EDT

CLEVELAND – Efforts to honor Cleveland’s historic past continue to flourish in the Hough neighborhood, along with work to highlight women’s contributions to the pursuit of civil rights.

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The Cleveland Restoration Society is in the Process of selecting sites for the African American Civil Rights Trail, considered the first of its kind in the northern United States by the organization’s president, Kathleen Crowther

The trail will include installing 10 Ohio historic markers in locations across the city that were significant to the African American civil rights movement between 1954 and 1976.

Three locations were selected including Glenville High School and Corey United Methodist Church.

“Corey really was the center of the African American neighborhood in Cleveland in the 1940s and 50s,” said Crowther. “It was where many grassroots organizations organized, and all of Martin Luther King’s key figures, Malcolm X, came to speak.”

(FOX 8 photo)

The walk will also include the Hough neighborhood at the corner of East 79th Street and Hough Avenue.

“This is actually the location of the Hough uprising,” said Crowther. “It was an uprising against injustice, lack of quality education, lack of access to jobs and lack of quality housing. It was ignited here and lasted for several days, and it was burned both black and white in the memory of Cleveland. “

(FOX 8 photo)

The late Cleveland Councilor Fannie Lewis served Division 7 for nearly 30 years and is best known for her role in improving the neighborhood after the uprising.

“Fannie Lewis is a symbol of women and their role in the civil rights movement, and she was a remarkable person,” said Crowther.

Some of Lewis’ contributions were the school voucher program for children to attend higher performing schools and a law in their namesake.

“The Fannie Lewis Act was named after her. If we have a big contract on a big construction project in Cleveland, the people who live here should get some of the jobs that come with it,” Crowther said. “It was overturned by the Ohio Supreme Court, but the intent is still there.”

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The people in the neighborhood fondly remember Lewis. Thomas Griffin, who said Lewis was like a grandmother to him and the other kids in the neighborhood at the time, even framed a photo of Lewis he’d taken off his wall to show.

“I had them hang up,” he said. “She stayed with us, a woman without tolerance. She told us if you want to do something, stand up for something … She made Hough. You think of Hough Avenue, you think of Fannie Lewis. “

As Hough becomes a stop on the growing path, the organizers want others to think about the history, the people who contributed to it, and how the history of civil rights is still being created today.

“The marker is right on the corner of East 79th and Hough, which is visible from both sides, and we expect it will be in place for 100 years,” said Crowther.

Additional locations for the trail are currently being reviewed and could be announced later this year. The project is the result of a $ 50,000 grant from the National Parks Service.

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