Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) celebrates the history, spirit, and life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. one of America’s greatest heroes of social justice and equality. This year, WRHS commemorates Dr. King’s legacy by offering a unique online Martin Luther King, Jr. Day resource. On this day of reflection, experience a curated collection of free digital programs, activities, and content you can safely explore from home!
Western Reserve Historical Society is grateful to the George Gund Foundation for their generous support of WRHS’s African American history and culture initiatives.
Explore historical photographs of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Cleveland and other selections from the WRHS African American Archives, download activity sheets, and read these informative blog articles for individuals of all ages to gain a unique perspective on what it means to give back and be a hero to their community.
Visit this link to learn more about Martin Luther King, Jr. visits to Cleveland.
Observed each year on the third Monday in January, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an annual day of service that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy. This “day on, not a day off,” is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer and work to improve their communities. Below you will find just a handful of the countless individuals who dedicated their lives to the betterment of their families, neighbors, and community. These individuals are featured in the Cleveland History Center’s Cleveland Starts Here® exhibit, sponsored by the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation.
Hover your mouse over the profiles to pause the slideshow
WRHS is far richer with the hard work and support of our volunteers as well as our Auxiliaries: Friends of the Cleveland History Center, Genealogical Committee, African American Archives Auxiliary, and Citizens of Hale Farm & Village. Thank you so much for your meaningful help.
At WRHS, we prioritize people – the WRHS community and the communities we serve. WRHS strives for a culture of excellence, diversity, equity, access and inclusion. We apply best practices to the stewardship of our places, collections and digital resources. It is our purpose to empower an entrepreneurial spirit to create, promote, and sustain a relevant, experience driven organization. We approach our work through an equity lens to ensure that collections, experiences, staff and board reflect the rich diversity of Northeast Ohio.
By the Book Author Series
Religion, Spirituality, and Rights
with Reverend Dr. Marvin A. McMickle
FREE Virtual Event | January 20, 2022 | 6:00 pm
In this talk on Let the Oppressed Go Free, Dr. McMickle’s 18th book project, the author will consider the influence of various liberation theologies in social, cultural, and political history. Among other topics, Let the Oppressed Go Free focuses on Black Theology, Feminist Theology, and Womanist Theology in America.
By the Book Author Series
Class, Culture, and Consciousness in Black America
with Dr. Cassi Pittman Claytor
FREE Virtual Event | March 3, 2022 | 6:00 pm
Northeast Ohio native Dr. Cassi Pittman Claytor’s talk on Black Privilege will enrich program participants’ “understanding of the Black middle class [by] drawing on the firsthand accounts of Black New Yorkers to offer original analysis as to what middle-class status buys Blacks who have cultural capital, credentials, and cash on hand.”
By the Book Author Series
Important Differences in the Health of African Americans
with Dr. Gregory Hall
FREE Virtual Event | April 7, 2022 | 6:00 pm
In a talk that is designed to appeal to both general audiences and healthcare providers, Gregory Hall, MD, will focus on many of the topics that he explored in Patient-Centered Clinical Care for African Americans (Springer 2020). Participants are encouraged to visit Dr. Hall’s website and his blog prior to the event, if they would like to review related articles on this topic before the talk.
Frederick Douglass Speaks on Democracy
February 17, 2022 | 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
February 19, 2022 | 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Join Frederick Douglass (Nathan M. Richardson, Living History Interpreter) and Rania Assily, Professor of History at Cuyahoga Community College for a conversation about the meaning of American Democracy in the words of former slave turned writer, orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
Hear how Douglass escaped slavery. Learn how his relationships with William Lloyd Garrison, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman and Presidents Lincoln, Garfield and Grant significantly influenced the suffrage movement, the Antebellum, the Civil War and early Reconstruction. Hear Mr. Douglass explain his evolving views on the US Constitution and American Democracy. Bring your own questions.
Event is included with museum general admission.
Looking for something for the whole family? Don’t miss our bonus performance for children and families on Saturday, February 19!
Meet Frederick Douglass
Children and families are invited to a special living history performance to hear Nathan Richardson as Frederick Douglass speak on how he taught himself how to read and write. Mr. Douglass will dialogue with the youth and place special emphasis on the importance of education, civic responsibility and understanding the United States Constitution.
Choose Your Own Date When You Book This Speaking of Cleveland Program!
Speaking of Cleveland | Black Innovators of Northeast Ohio
How did African-American inventors and entrepreneurs impact the history of Northeast Ohio? In this program, learn about three black Clevelanders — Garrett Morgan, Alonzo Wright, and Amanda Wicker — who improved the city through their commitments to innovation, education, and community. Participants will reflect on the contributions of these community leaders in order to identify problems and imagine solutions to issues in their lives.
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