Martin Luther King, Jr. Day | Online Resources


Every year, Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) commemorates and celebrates the history, spirit, and life of one of America’s greatest heroes of social justice and equality – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  This year, WRHS continues this tradition by creating a unique online Martin Luther King, Jr. Day resource. On this day of reflection, take the time to experience this curated collection of free digital programs, activities, and content you can safely explore from home!



Immerse yourself in the stories and lives of Northeast Ohio’s past and present heroes when you sign up for WRHS’s live Zoom presentation and walkthrough of Carl & Louis Stokes Making History, an exhibit that honors Mayor Carl B. Stokes and his brother, Congressman Louis Stokes. Then, explore Celebrate Those Who Give Blackan online experience that tells the story of Black philanthropy in Cleveland by honoring the past, celebrating the present and inspiring the future. Other offerings such as historical photographs of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Cleveland, downloadable activity sheets, and informative blog articles will help individuals of all ages gain a unique perspective on what it means to give back and be a hero to their community.


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.


Cleveland Civics History Series | Charles Waddell Chesnutt:

The Civic Life of a Cleveland Creative (c. 1899-1929)

February 16, 2021 | 7:00 pm


In the life and work of Charles Waddell Chesnutt, we find the threads that weave together much of the story of early twentieth-century African American leadership in Cleveland and many of the challenges associated with living life along the ever-present color line.  A celebrated writer and successful business owner, Chesnutt was also known for his activism and reform efforts.  This presentation will consider both his literary life and his work in civic affairs, from the turn of the century through the “New Negro Movement” of the 1920s.



Speaking of Cleveland | Praying Grounds: African American Faith Communities

February 17, 2021 | 6:00 pm


African American faith communities have long served as influential centers of social and religious activities. In this presentation, historian and author Regennia N. Williams will discuss the evolving role of religion in Black America, based on her ongoing research for the Praying Grounds Oral History Project and her books and other publications, including Cleveland, Ohio and “Race, Religion, and Reconciliation: Academic Initiatives, Leadership Development, and Social Change.”



Speaking of Cleveland | Black Innovators of Northeast Ohio (For Kids K-5)

February 24, 2021 | 3:30 pm


How did African-American inventors and entrepreneurs impact the history of Northeast Ohio? In this program, geared toward grades K-5, students will learn about three black Clevelanders — Garrett Morgan, Alonzo Wright, and Amanda Wicker — who improved the city through their commitments to innovation, education, and community. Students will reflect on the contributions of these community leaders in order to identify problems and imagine solutions to issues in their lives. (All registrants are asked to have blank paper and markers/crayons/colored pencils on hand when they sign on for the program.)




  1. National Museum of African American History and Culture Martin Luther King, Jr. Online Collection

  2. The Immortal Messages of Martin Luther King Jr.

  3. Martin Luther King’s Last Speech

  4. Talking About Race

  5. Allen E. Cole Photographs

  6. Carl Stokes Photographs

  7. Kwanzaa in Cleveland

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