African-American Civil Rights Trail

Walk in the footsteps of Cleveland’s African American civil rights activists and follow their fight for legislative and social progress.

Explore the Trail

From historic Cory United Methodist Church to the Pegg House and Ludlow Community Association, through the Hough Neighborhood and historic stops in-between, you’ll follow a trail that features iconic destinations, each steeped in the history of Cleveland’s civil rights movement, commemorating the struggle and fight for equality.

History Was

We invite you to walk the path to equality and learn the history that was made across Cleveland during the 1950s, 60s and 70s—history that’s still being made today. Stand at pivotal sites, hear the stories that influenced change, and immerse yourself in the powerful story of our city’s courageous contributions to sweeping legislative and social progress.


Each stop on Cleveland’s African American Civil Rights Trail tells its own story—one that’s part of a greater history. We invite you to step back in time, one stop at a time, to learn more about the struggles, triumphs, leaders, and sites that all played a role in creating a more equitable future for African Americans in Cleveland—and across the country.

Ali Summit and the Negro Industrial and Economic Union

The Ali Summit and Negro Industrial and Economic Union represented the submerging of civil rights activism, the anti-Vietnam war movement, and professional athletes’ involvement in national and local politics. Cleveland Browns players had a central role in organizing the summit and the Union.

Learn More   |   Directions

Additional Markers Coming Soon


The press meeting, now called the Ali Summit. In attendance were Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, John Wooten, Curtis McClinton, Sidney Williams, Bobby Mitchell, Jim Shorter, Willie Davis, Walter Beach III, Carl Stokes, Lorenzo Ashley, Bill Russell and Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). Photo courtesy of the Western Reserve Historical Society.

Postponed: Date TBA

Ali Summit Historical Marker Unveiling at Cleveland Browns Stadium

UPDATE 5-22-23: With the recent passing of Cleveland Browns icon Jim Brown, we will be postponing the unveiling of the Ali Summit Marker at Cleveland Browns Stadium scheduled for Thursday, May 25, 2023. Look for an updated event date to be released soon.

Join Cleveland Restoration Society and the Cleveland Browns at the Cleveland Browns Stadium for the unveiling of the Ali Summit Marker to honor the historic event and the Cleveland Browns athletes who were involved. 

It happened right here in Cleveland. On June 4, 1967, at 105-15 Euclid Ave. at the Negro Industrial and Economic Union headquarters, boxer Muhammad Ali sat among a group of ten men and reiterated to reporters his refusal to be inducted into the Vietnam War. The men, who consisted of former and current professional and collegiate athletes—largely from the Cleveland Browns—and then-attorney Carl Stokes, all stood alongside Ali after failing to change his mind. On principle, they stood in solidarity with him and received criticism for their decision. Just two weeks later, an all-White jury found Ali guilty of draft evasion. He was released on bail pending an appeal, but had his passport confiscated and took a hiatus from boxing. In 1971, the Supreme Court reversed his conviction.

The Ali Summit and Negro Industrial and Economic Union represented the merging of civil rights activism, the anti-Vietnam war movement, and professional athletes’ involvement in national and local politics. Members of the Union were embedded in Cleveland’s Black community, understood its struggles, and used their resources and status as celebrities to facilitate change. For these reasons, the summit and the Union have been chosen as a part of the Cleveland Civil Rights Trail.

Learn more about the Ali Summit and Negro Industrial and Economic Union HERE.

African American Cultural Gardens. Staff photo

June 19, 2023

African American Cultural Gardens Marker Dedication 

Cleveland Restoration Society is pleased to announce its first Partner Site on Cleveland’s Civil Rights Trail!

The African American Cultural Garden will be another stop along the Trail. The African American Cultural Garden marks the struggle for equitable access to public space and the representation of Black cultural heritage. Please join the Association of African American Cultural Gardens and the Cleveland Restoration Society for a historical marker dedication on June 19th! The ceremony will be held at 11:45 am in the Cultural Gardens and is a part of the organization’s Juneteenth Celebration beginning at 10:00 am.

The Cleveland Cultural Gardens in Rockefeller Park were designed as part of an effort beginning in 1926 to promote ethic pride and cultural understanding. Yet, non-whites were not considered a part of this effort for many years. The effort to establish an African American Cultural Garden began in 1961. After 16 years of fighting for a space in the garden, land was dedicated in 1977. Learn more about the fight for equitable representation in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens and its association with Cleveland’s Civil Rights Movement HERE

Visit the African American Cultural Gardens website for additional information HERE. 


We are honored to acknowledge the following sponsors and grantors who embrace our mission of historic preservation.

This material was produced with assistance from the African American Civil Rights Grant Program, administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.

This website is made possible, in part, by Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This project has been funded in part by a grant from the Johanna Favrot Fund for Historic Preservation of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Additional support is provided by a generous anonymous donor, and Maxine Isaacs, daughter of Bernard Isaacs, co-founder of the Ludlow Community Association.


Whether Cleveland is your home or you’re visiting our great city, we urge everyone to rediscover the heart, soul and tenacity that lives in its history. Visit any of these sites to gain new perspective and a new appreciation for the history behind Cleveland as it is today.