Category: African American History

ABOLITIONISM. The contribution that Clevelanders made to the cause of black emancipation was related to 2 geographic factors: the location of the city in the Puritan New England environment of the WESTERN RESERVE, and its position on Lake Erie opposite the shores of Canada, destination of many hundreds of fugitives from the slave South.

The AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM, formerly the Afro-American Cultural & Historical Society Museum (est. 15 April 1953, inc.

AFRICAN AMERICANS. Cleveland's African American community is almost as old as the city itself. GEORGE PEAKE, the first Black settler, arrived in 1809 and by 1860 there were 799 Black people living in a growing community of over 43,000. As early as the 1850s, most of Cleveland's African American population lived on the east side.


The ALIENED AMERICAN not only was Cleveland's first black newspaper, but apparently was also intended to be a regional voice. It was founded at the urging of the Ohio and Natl. Conventions of Colored Freemen from 1849-53. Three editors finally produced the paper's inaugural issue on 9 Apr. 1853, at a time when they claimed there were only 2 other black papers in publication in the entire country. WM. H.

ANTOINE, ALBERT CORNELIUS (1925 - 2017) was an AFRICAN AMERICAN chemist, professor, and minority advocate who worked for NASA from 1954 to 1983 researching jet fuels, little-known metals, air pollution, and renewable energy.

The BAGBY FUGITIVE SLAVE CASE, heard in Cleveland's federal court in January of 1861, resulted in the return of one of the last fugitive slaves to the South before the Civil War.

BEN was a fugitive slave who spent several months in Cleveland in 1806. In the spring of 1806, a small boat transporting a man named Hunter, his family, and Ben, was upset and driven ashore just east of ROCKY RIVER. Hunter, from Michigan, hoped to resettle in the WESTERN RESERVE.

BIGGS, IONE KENNY (6 May 1916 – 16 Dec. 2005) was an outspoken advocate for peace and human rights, locally and around the globe.

BIGHAM, STELLA GODFREY WHITE (September 24, 1907-August 3, 1991) was an AFRICAN AMERICAN community activist, columnist for the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, and the first woman to serve on the

BIVINS, JAMES LOUIS “JIMMY(6 December 1919-4 July 2012) was a professional boxer, who beat some of the top fighters of his day, but never fought for a championship. He was called by Sports Illustrated the best modern heavyweight never to get a title shot.


BLACK GAY PRIDE has been an official annual celebration of Pride among Black Clevelanders since 1997.

BLUE, WELCOME T., SR. (1867-24 May 1930), one of Cleveland's pioneering AFRICAN AMERICAN realtors and prominent community leaders, was born in Stillwater, Ohio.

The BODDIE RECORDING CO., run by Thomas and Louise Boddie, was Cleveland's first African-American owned and operated recording studio, serving a clientele ranging from gospel, soul, and rhythm & blues groups, to rock, bluegrass, and country musicians from as far away as Detroit and West Virginia. Fascinated with Rube Goldberg machines and electronics since his childhood, owner Thomas R.

BRASCHER, NAHUM DANIEL (24 May 1880-14 January 1945), a prominent AFRICAN AMERICAN journalist, educator, and community leader, active in Cleveland during the early decades of the twentieth century.

BROWN, JAMES NATHANIEL "JIM" (17 February 1936-18 May 2023) was a Hall of Fame running back for the CLEVELAND BROWNS and social activist.

BROWN, JERE A. (1841-28 Mar. 1913), a black Republican politician, was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., attended Avery College in Allegheny, Pa., and lived in Canada and St. Louis before arriving in Cleveland in 1870 or 1871, becoming active in politics here to improve his status. He was appointed bailiff for Judge Daniel R.

BROWN, JOHN (c. 1798-30 March 1869) reputedly became Cleveland's wealthiest African American citizen during a 40-year career as the city's most notable barber. Born of free parents in Virginia, he came to Cleveland in 1828 and in barbering took up a trade nearly monopolized in the 19th century by AFRICAN AMERICANS.

BURKE, LILLIAN W.  (2 August 1915 – 27 March 2012) was a pioneer, the first black woman judge in Ohio and the first to sit on the Ohio Industrial Commission, the highest state position ever held by a black woman at that time. She was born in Thomaston, Georgia; her parents were George P. and Ozella (Davidson) Walker.  Her family moved to Pittsburgh where she was educated in its public schools. 

BUTLER, ANNETTE GARNER ( 23 June 23 1944 – 31 December 31 2018), civil rights lawyer and civic activist, was born in Cleveland to Rudolph and Minnie (Evans) Garner.  She graduated fourth in her class from East High School in 1962 and from Flora Stone Mather College of Western Reserve University (

CAPERS, JEAN (EUGENIA) MURRELL (11 January, 1913-18 July, 2017) in 1949 became the first African-American woman elected to Cleveland City Council. Despite the challenges of being both black and female, she enjoyed a long, lively, and contentious career in public life.

CARR, CHARLES VELMON (9 November 1903-30 Apr. 1987), influential Cleveland Democrat and civil rights advocate, was born in Clarksville, Texas. His parents, Will and Pauline Carr, were teachers. After their divorce, Carr was brought to Cleveland by his stepfather Jesse Robertson, an employee of the Cuyahoga County Engineers Office.

CENTRAL is a Cleveland neighborhood located roughly between Euclid Avenue to the north, Woodland Avenue to the south, and between East 71th to the east and East 22th to the west. The neighborhood is named after Central Avenue (once Garden) that runs through its center.