About

THE FIGHT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS IN AMERICA

The 1950s and 60s marked a period of unrest across the United States. Faced with racial segregation, discrimination, and disenfranchisement, African Americans came together in a civil rights movement that paved the way for sweeping legislative, social, and economic equality.

CLEVELAND’S CIVIL RIGHTS HISTORY

Every major city contributed to the strength of the civil rights movement; Cleveland included. The African American Civil Rights Trail creates an immersive retelling of the story of our city, from the earliest days of the movement to the major events that helped shape national change.

ABOUT THE CLEVELAND CIVIL RIGHTS TRAIL

Cleveland’s African American Civil Rights Trail will include 11 historical markers, each significant in the fight for equality. Follow the trail sequentially for a high-level history of the civil rights movement, or visit individual sites to understand their significance in shaping our city.

Image of Rev. Sumpter at Cory United Methodist Church. Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. 

About Cleveland Restoration Society

The Cleveland Restoration Society (CRS) is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit organization founded in 1972 by a racially diverse group of people to counter demolition during urban renewal and revitalize old neighborhoods. Today, CRS’s mission is to preserve, protect, and celebrate historic buildings and places that foster vibrant and inclusive communities. We envision a future where our architectural and cultural heritage is recognized as essential in sustaining diverse and thriving communities. To learn more about CRS’s historic preservation project and programs, please visit clevelandrestoration.org.

Meet the Team

John Doe

Lead
Enter member description here which describes the position of member in company

John Doe

Lead
Enter member description here which describes the position of member in company

John Doe

Lead
Enter member description here which describes the position of member in company

John Doe

Lead
Enter member description here which describes the position of member in company

Scholars

Thomas L. Bynum, Ph.D.

Thomas L. Bynum, Ph.D.

Thomas L. Bynum is the chair of the Department of Africana Studies and associate professor of History at Cleveland State University. He teaches introductory and upper division classes in Black Studies and History. His research and teaching areas include African American History with emphasis on the civil rights/black power movements and youth/student activism.

His first book project, NAACP Youth and the Fight for Black Freedom, 1936-1965, which examined the activism of the NAACP youth councils and college chapters, was published by University of Tennessee Press in 2013. His book was also recognized by Choice and nominated for the Lillian Smith Book Award in 2014. Additionally, Bynum has peer-reviewed publication and book reviews in scholarly journals, including the Journal of African American History, Journal of Southern History, Georgia Historical Quarterly, and the Alabama Review.

Bynum is currently working on a second book project, which examines the political activism of the Young Turks (young middle-class professionals) and their goal to steer the NAACP towards Black Power and wrest power from the organization’s old guard (like Roy Wilkins) during the 1960s. The book is tentatively titled: New Guard versus Old Guard: Young Turks, Black Power, and the NAACP.

Donna McIntyre Whyte, Ph.D.

Donna McIntyre Whyte, Ph.D.

Donna McIntyre Whyte has a long career as a higher education professional in both administration and teaching at Cleveland State University. She spent most of her 28-year administrative career at CSU as director of the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs from which she retired in 2013. Whyte is currently a research consultant with the Cleveland Restoration Society.

Holding a doctorate from Case Western Reserve University in Social Policy History, Whyte’s dissertation title is “African American Community Politics and Racial Equality in Cleveland Public Schools, 1933-1973.” Since 2009, Whyte has been an adjunct faculty member in the departments of history, comparative religion, black studies, and urban studies.

Among her most popular courses are the Religious Ethics of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and Cleveland: The African-American Experience. In 2016-2017, she came out of retirement to serve as Interim Director of CSU’s Black Studies Program and Visiting Associate Professor. She is a co-author of the 2016 book, Busing, Boycotts and Beyond: The History & Implications of School Desegregation in the Urban North.  Whyte is a former trustee of the Shaker Heights Board of Education and Shaker Heights Public Library Board, and currently serves on the city’s Neighborhood and Economic Development Committee.  Dr. Whyte’s bachelor’s degree in Spanish and master’s degree in Adult Education are both from The Ohio State University.

Jim Robenalt

Jim Robenalt

Jim Robenalt is a partner at the law firm of Thompson Hine LLP. He is also the author of four nonfiction books: Ballots and Bullets, Black Power Politics and Urban Guerrilla Warfare in 1968 Cleveland (2018); January 1973, Watergate, Roe v Wade, Vietnam, and the Month that Changed America Forever (2015); The Harding Affair, Love and Espionage During the Great War (2009); and Linking Rings, William W. Durbin and the Magic and Mystery of America (2004). Robenalt lectures nationally with John Dean, Nixon’s White House Counsel, on legal ethics and the legacy of Watergate. Together they have spoken to tens of thousands of lawyers across the country in one of the most acclaimed continuing legal education programs. Mr. Robenalt lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio. He writes regularly for The Washington Post and other publications on the presidency, Article II, impeachment, Watergate, abortion, and the Progressive Era. His great-grandfather was the register of the United States Treasury under President Franklin Roosevelt and the first elected president of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. He advocates for an Ohio Presidential Center. He speaks on racism and implicit bias.

Aaron G. Fountain, Jr.

Aaron G. Fountain, Jr.

Aaron G. Fountain, Jr. is the African American Cultural Heritage Fellow at the Cleveland Restoration Society. In 2022, he completed a PhD in history at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. His research documents 1960s and 1970s high school student activism in the San Francisco Bay area. While enrolled, he published articles and op-ed in various academic journals and media outlets and has been quoted in publications such as The Atlantic, PBSNewshour, The Guardian, and others. He has been integral to furthering the Cleveland Restoration Society’s work in documenting, preserving, and sharing Cleveland’s African American cultural heritage, primarily through his work on the African American Civil Rights Trail. CRS has greatly benefited from his scholarly research, content curation, and multimedia prowess.

Community Engagement Committee:

Natoya Walker Minor, Chair and Chief of Public Affairs, City of Cleveland
Dione Alexander, Cleveland Restoration Society Trustee
Dan Bickerstaff, Cleveland Restoration Society Trustee
Gwendolyn Chapman, Ludlow Community Leader
Keisha Chambers, ThisisBLKCLE
Kathleen Crowther, President, Cleveland Restoration Society
Margaret Lann, Manager of Preservation Services & Publications, Cleveland Restoration Society
Leah Lewis, Founder, CEO & Chief Creative Officer Three Butterflies, LLC
Crystal Montgomery, CRS Trustee, Member of Community Engagement Committee
Glen Shumate, Cleveland Restoration Society Trustee
Tony Sias, Executive Director, Karamu House
Kim Smith Woodford, Journey on Yonder

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 carefully mapped trail that features 11 iconic destinations, each steeped in the history of Cleveland’s civil right movement, commemorating the struggle and fight for equality.