Browse Interviews

  • Subject is exactly "African Americans"
52 total

Charles V. Williams interview, 01 February 2020

Charles V. Williams is a longtime advocate for the Black Deaf community at both the local, state, and national levels. In this first of two interviews, he discusses losing his hearing as a child, growing up on Cleveland's East Side, early efforts to help Black Deaf newcomers to the city, working at Thompson Products and in the Cuyahoga County Engineer's Office, and campaigning for Carl Stokes for mayor.

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Annette Fromm interview, 07 March 2018

Annette Fromm is a folklorist and museum professional in Miami Beach, Florida. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, she earned a Ph.D. in Folklore from Indiana University and was the curator and oral history project director for the Greater Cleveland Ethnographic Museum in the late 1970s. She discusses her involvement in the museum and describes various grant-funded exhibits and initiatives that it undertook, including working with Icabod Flewellen's African American Museum.

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Marian Garth Saffold interview, 12 October 2017

Marian Garth-Saffold discusses her time living in Moreland, her involvement in the community, and reasons she moved to and from Shaker. The choice to move to Moreland was influencd by its good school system and its acceptance of blacks in the 1960s. Marian talks with the interviewer about her job as a lab technician and then working for the unions. She discusses her daughter's impact on life in Shaker and Warrensville, where she and her husband moved when her daughter became the city's mayor.…

Art Ledger interview, 04 June 2017

Art Ledger, the son of migrants who left Alabama to work at Republic Steel in Cleveland, became the first African American taxidermist in the United States as well as the first African American to own property in his Near West Side neighborhood. He explains how the Near West Side has changed demographically over time. He discusses his childhood on the East Side and move to the Near West Side during high school, his experience as a U.S. Marine in the Vietnam War, and how after his return he…

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Catherine Poulsen interview, 20 February 2017

Catherine "Cookie" Poulsen, was born in Cleveland in 1950. She was encouraged to interview with Republic Steel through a class assignment. The day after she graduated from high school she started work at Republic Steel in the filing department. Poulsen worked her way up through the ranks at Republic and LTV Steel after the merger in 1984. She worked several departments, including payroll, insurance claims, human resources, and sales. She describes Republic Steel as a family company where all the…

Geoffrey Mearns interview, 16 June 2008

Geoffrey Mearns, the Dean of Cleveland Marshall College of Law and Louise Mooney, the communications coordinator stitch together the past, present, and future of Cleveland's public school of law. Mearns, explains what is on the horizon for the law school in terms of community engagement. Mooney provides the history of the law school and how that history has affected the schools present. The Marshall College of Law excels in providing a diverse, well-rounded, and accessible law education for…

Zeta Swaggard interview, 2006

Zeta Swaggard was born in 1914 and migrated to Cleveland from southern Ohio during World War II. She quickly found work in a factory and found a place to live in a rooming house. Swaggard vividly describes riding the streetcars and notes their importance. She describes the atmosphere and the culture of Downtown Cleveland, including the shops, department stores, restaurants, and theatres. Swaggard notes the change in downtown as the department stores moved to the suburbs and they started to…

Dr Edward Jackson Interview, 01 July 2008

Interview with Dr Edward Jackson who is a senior advisor to the CEO at University Hospitals--primarily involved in championing diversity efforts at the system. Jackson relates how growing up in the Central neighborhood inspired him to work towards addressing disparities in healthcare. He discusses the role Case Western Reserve University, has played in attempting to bring diversity to the medical field in the area, and the history of these efforts in Cleveland. He also talks about health…

Jeff Davis Interview, 2 October 2002

In this interview, Jeff Davis discusses his role as delegate to the African American Cultural Garden. Mr. Davis touches on how he became involved with the gardens, groups involved with the garden, and what the gardens represent as a whole. He then goes on to discuss the obstacles for the African American Cultural Garden, how those obstacles can be met, and why there are no busts within the garden. Other topics include the history, present state, and future plans for the garden.

Valerie Coates Interview, 18 April 2005

Valerie Coates, the delegate for the African American Cultural Garden, discusses the African American experience in Cleveland and abroad. She discusses the formation of African American Cultural Garden, how it came to be, and the garden's future plans. Other topics include influential African Americans throughout history, slavery, and African American life in the mid 1900s.

Cordell Edge Interview, 14 October 2002

Cordell Edge, a delegate of the African American Garden, discusses her involvement with the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. Ms. Edge describes how she got her start in the African American Cultural Garden, what her role is within the Cultural Garden Federation, and how the garden was created. Other topics include her memories of the gardens and how the neighborhood surrounding the gardens has changed over time.

Dorothy Silver Interview, 26 July 2013

Dorothy Silver, a Detroit native, describes what drew her to Cleveland. She says that Cleveland was calling her because it was "receptive to various changes that needed to be made." She and her husband began used the theater as a stage to talk about desegregation. She discusses interracial shows at the time of the Hough Riots in 1966. She also discusses fair housing and mixed neighborhoods. She found it surprising that in her experience the people of Cleveland Heights were generally accepting.

Sarah Taylor Interview, 3 July 2013

Sarah Louisa Taylor and her husband, Phillip, were orginally from England. Sarah works at Case Western Reserve University as a research assistant and helps new faculty members settle into the area. The Taylors were active in the Open Housing Task Force in the 1970s, which helped prevent efforts by realtors to prevent the racial integration of Cleveland Heights. The Taylors invited one such realtor to their home to discuss the issue, which led to a lawsuit against the Taylors by the realty…

John A. Lunkins Interview, 1 July 2013

John Lunkins was born in Cleveland in 1964. His family was one of the only black families on his mostly Italian American street, East 113th off of Union. Growing up, Lunkins had a best friend who was of Italian descent. He shares his fondest memories of his childhood, playing baseball in the street with his friends, but then also recalls that when all the kids went to go play in the little league, he was unable to play because of his color. As Lunkins grew up he experienced some racially driven…

Margaret Peacock Interview, 7 August 2013

Margaret Peacock grew up in Columbus, Ohio. Her father worked for the railroad and her mother was a homemaker. She went to Wittenberg University were she met her husband Larry. They married when they were juniors. Peacock describes her involvement with organizations for black students at Wittenberg. After college, the Peacocks moved to Cleveland and were teachers in the Cleveland School District. Larry was hired to teach in Cleveland Heights, so they moved. Margaret Peacock taught at Fairfax…

Larry Rivers Interview, 04 March 2008

Larry Rivers, lifelong resident of Glenville, discusses growing up in Glenville during the 1950's and 1960's. He describes the self-contained nature of Glenville and the importance of churches to the community. Rivers relates the change in racial make-up of the neighborhood, the gradual shift towards an all African-American population and the decline of neighborhood businesses. He notes the change in African-American attitudes following the Hough and Glenville riots. This change contributed…

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Fred and Anna Marie Johnson Interview, 2008

Fred Johnson and Anna Marie, long time Cleveland residents discuss growing up in Cleveland as African-Americans. Fred, a former Cleveland policeman, discusses racial discrimination faced by African-American policemen from the 1950's through the 1970's, the Black Shield Officer's Association and National Black Police Association. Anna Marie describes the Cedar Central neighborhood, shopping and movies, streetcars, and layout of neighborhood now known as Fairfax. Other topics include the positive…

Emily Peck Interview, 2 April 2008

Emily Peck, retired school principal, born and raised in Memphis, came to Cleveland in 1950. She relates her experiences as an African-American woman living in Cleveland in the 1950's. Race relations in the 1950's were not overtly troubled, but Peck describes the rise of resentment as African-Americans attempted to move into immigrant neighborhoods. Peck notes lack of opportunity for African-Americans, the emphasis on education amongst middle-class blacks, and their perseverance to create and…

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Abdul Qahar Interview, 2008

Abdul Qahar, a political activist who has worked with prisoners, urban youth and community development organizations, discusses social and economic issues facing African Americans in Cleveland and in the US broadly. Qahar discusses his work with the Black Panther Party and describes the history and impact of the Black Nationalist movement. He relays some of the problems affecting Cleveland's neighborhoods, including drugs, foreclosures, corporate development, and the ongoing power of white…

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George Dixon III Interview, 24 July 2007

George Dixon III, owner of the Lancer Steakhouse on Carnegie Avenue, discusses the restaurant's history, including under the previous ownership of Fleet Slaughter, and its importance to the African American community. Mr. Dixon discusses the other African American establishments in the Midtown area prior to his ownership, including Corner Tavern, Leo's Casino, and Art's Seafood. Dixon recounts change and continuity in the Lancer's menu, as well as how the Midtown area has changed over the years.…

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William R. Bennett Interview, 16 July 2014

William R. Bennett, previously the Financial Aid Director at Cleveland State University (CSU), discusses his position and how things have changed for African Americans in North East Ohio. He begins by talking about his experiences at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. He recalls that those days, days of segregation, no one confronted the students because they were a major economic driver in the town. After Hampton, Bennett came to Cleveland and pursued a research position at area hospitals…

Dargan Burns Interview, December 2005

This 2005 interview of Dargan Burns is a follow up to an earlier interview. In this later interview, Mr. Burns discusses in greater deal his friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr--how, when and where they met, and relates very personal stories about King that illuminate King's personality and magnetism as a young minister going to school in Boston in the early 1950s. In the second part of this interview, Burns discusses his involvement in Cleveland's historic Church of the Covenant. Burns…

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Dargan Burns Interview, November 2005

In this 2005 interview, Dargan Burns, an African-American discusses his involvement in integration efforts in Cleveland from the 1950s to the present. Burns, born in South Carolina, fought in the Army in World War II, and was educated at the Hampton Institute and Boston University. At BU, he met and became a friend of Martin Luther King, Jr.. He was also a friend of J. Harold Brown, who was very active in Karamu House. In 1954, Burns joined the then white elitist Church of the Covenant as one of…

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Michaelangelo Lovelace Interview, 2005

2005 interview of Cleveland artist Michaelangelo Lovelace. Mr. Lovelace grew up in the inner city of Cleveland; dropped out of school; took menial jobs and then discovered his artistic talent. Cleveland and its people are the subjects of his paintings. He painted "Born Again," a mural located at East 36th Avenue and Cedar near the projects. In this interview, Mr. Lovelace describes his troubled youth and his recollection of various districts of the inner city of Cleveland.

Sandra Blakely Interview, 2010

Sandra Blakely was born in Cleveland, Ohio. While she was attending Dillard University in New Orleans she came across a flyer asking for camp counselors to work at Camp Mueller over the summer. After she was hired, Sandra worked at Camp Mueller from the ages of 18-21. She discusses working with the children and keeping records on each child's behavior. Her experience as a camp counselor was positive and prepared her for her career in social work.

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Patricia Ford Interview, 2010

Patricia Ford, born 1958, raised in Cedar neighborhood, attended Camp Mueller from age eight to thirteen. Ford relates her experiences at camp, which she attended as part of her care at Antioch day care. She was apprehensive about leaving home at first but learned to love camp. She remembers the good food and the counselors who used Indian names, and the freedom to run and play outdoors.

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Janet Nevilles, Alice Dickson, and Sherrai Landrum Interview, 2010

Two separate oral histories by three participants discuss their experiences at Camp Mueller as a way for the interviewers to practice their questions and tweak lines of discussion. Having attended or having had descendants who attend the camp throughout the decades, each of the interviewees recalls why they went to camp, their experiences while there, and how it impacted their lives after leaving.

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Ronald F. Dodson Interview, 2010

Ronald F. Dodson attended Camp Mueller in 1957 and 1958, at age nine and ten. Dodson lived in the Rawlings neighborhood and credits his Camp Meuller experience with promoting his lifelong love of the outdoors. Dodson discusses his memories of camp, the rain that spoiled his second year, and the excitement of getting ready to attend camp. He also recalls the anxiety that he felt at being away from home for the first time and the experience of getting to know fellow campers, lessons that…

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Carolyn Walker Interview, 2010

Carolyn Walker, born 1954, worked as a counselor at Camp Mueller in the late 1970's. She compares her GirlScout camp experience with co-ed Camp Mueller. Walker describes some camp activities and talks about the positive learning experiences children have at camp.

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Dyeatra Williams Interview, 2010

Dyeatra Williams grew up in Cleveland and attended Camp Mueller during the early 1950s. Dyeatra also attended Camp Hiram House. Her two younger brothers also attended camp with her after her first year. Dyeatra discusses the positive impact camp had on her life and the how she feels every child should have the same opportunity to go to camp as she had. Dyeatra's family owns a pest control business that has a long standing in the community. She recounts working at the family business on the…

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Norma McLaughlin Nelson Interview, 2010

Norma McLaughlin Nelson was born in Alcorn, Mississippi on the college campus of Alcorn A & M (now Alcorn State University) where her father was a professor. The family later relocated to Greensboro, North Carolina, when Norma's father took a position as Dean at North Carolina A & T. Norma's mother was a friend of Jane Edna Hunter, the founder of the Phyllis Wheatley Association and was given a job as a dietitian in the cafeteria. Due to this relationship, Norma and her sister attended Camp…

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Bernice Thompson Lavendar Interview, 2010

Bernice Thompson Lavendar attended camp when it first opened in 1938. Bernice's experience with camp left a lasting impression on her growing up. As an adult she attended Bible school and after graduating worked as the youth coordinator for a church where she worked to ensure the children she was working with had the opportunity to go to camp as well. Bernice was also involved with the Future Outlook League and became one of the first African Americans to work at the Woolworth's in downtown…

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Brenda Matthews and Leslie Witbeck Interview, 2010

Brenda Matthews and Leslie Witbeck met at camp when they were kids. Both ladies remember Camp Mueller fondly and especially swimming in the pool at the camp. Brenda and Leslie talk about how the camp counselors had "Indian" names. The two ladies also recount the various activities campers did at the camp, including riding on the camp's mule.

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Robert Madison Interview, 01 August 2006

In 1954, Robert Madison started Robert P. Madison International Inc., Ohio's first architectural firm started by an African-American. In this 2006 interview, Madison discusses the challenges he faced as a black man trying to become an architect and the discrimination he faced at various points in his life. He describes serving in World War II and coming back to Cleveland, where he successfully challenged racial discrimination at Case Western Reserve University, graduating with a degree in…

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Michaelangelo Lovelace Interview, 28 October 2008

Artist Michaelangelo Lovelace (b. Michael Anthony Lovelace) discusses his personal background and career; including details on his family and art education, and insights on the intersection of art and race. Lovelace, a native Clevelander, describes the formative moments of his life, including his first encounters with racism, the mentorship of artist Reverend Albert Wagner, his art education experiences at Cuyahoga Community College and the Cleveland Institute of Art, his first art exhibit at…

Anthony Mahone Interview, 13 January 2009

Photographer Anthony Mahone discusses his life and art. Born and raised in Cleveland, Mahone spent much of his early adulthood elsewhere; first, while attending a military academy in North Dakota, and later traveling to Europe and Africa. The bulk of Mahone's education was in Ohio (at Cleveland State and Ohio State University), where he also pursued his interest in Engineering, Physics, and History. Mahone discusses the influence of Cleveland photographer Misumi Hiyashi, as well as other faculty…

Kevin Snipes Interview, 13 January 2009

Artist Kevin Snipes discusses his life and art. Born in Philadelphia, PA, Snipes and his family moved to Cleveland in the 1960s. Snipes distinguished himself as an artist at an early age in the public schools of Cleveland and Shaker Heights. After leaving Cleveland to attend Carnegie Mellon University, the artist returned to Cleveland to continue his education at the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA). Although his earliest artistic inclination was toward two-dimensional line drawing, Snipes…

Moe Brooker Interview, 13 January 2009

Artist Moe Brooker discusses his life and career. A native of Philadelphia, Brooker came to Cleveland in 1979 to teach at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where he became its first full-time African American instructor. Shortly after arriving in Cleveland, Brooker won top honors at the prestigious May Show at the Cleveland Museum of Art, overcoming the common perception that no black artist could win the show. The artist describes his own artistic education and development from his early interest…

Kevin Everson Interview, 13 January 2009

Mansfield native Kevin Everson discusses discovering his artistic ability in college and his interest in photography and film. He recounts attending the University of Akron and the masters program at Ohio University. He taught art at Akron and Oberlin College and is currently an instructor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Art films are his main focus at the present time. His subjects are people and objects that represent black working-class culture. Everson worked with a Widelux…

Cushmere Bell Interview, 24 December 2008

Artist Cushmere Bell describes his life and career. Raised in Cleveland, Bell knew he wanted to be an artist at an early age. An early interest in comics and a "part-time job" of drawing commissioned sports scenes from the covers of Sports Illustrated magazine for classmates typified his earliest artistic activities. After "discovering Impressionism in 12th grade," Cushmere decided to pursue a career in painting. Encouraged by teachers at Shaker Heights High School, Bell attended the Cleveland…

Robert Banks, Jr. Interview, 03 December 2008

Filmmaker, Robert C. Banks, Jr. discusses his life and career. A lifelong Clevelander, Banks attended the Cleveland School of the Arts (CSA), where he learned many of the fundamentals of art and film. Despite having spent some years pursuing higher education at the Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland State University, and elsewhere, Banks credits much of his film-making expertise to self-education and collegial exchanges from within the Cleveland art scene. Banks discusses his service in the…

Miller Horns Interview, 28 October 2008

Artist Miller Horns discusses the role of art in his education, discussing how his artistic ability helped him cope with dyslexia in elementary school and how Mark Sopliln at the University of Akron encouraged him to study art at the college level. He was accepted at CIA and spent five years commuting by Greyhound bus from Akron to Cleveland to attend school. His education gave him an appreciation of other art forms, especially dance and theater. Miller became interested in electrostatic art…

David Buttram Interview, 03 December 2008

David Buttram, a Cleveland artist and high school art teacher, recounts his childhood desire to draw cartoons and how art became his strength in school. He enrolled in Cooper School of Art, then CIA, and ultimately earned a Masters at Kent. He discusses how his thirteen-month tour of duty with the Marines in Vietnam influenced his work, his subsequent employment as a machinist, and his return to painting. The interview also focuses on characteristics of his paintings, which are mostly urban…

Lawrence Baker Interview, 03 December 2008

Artist Lawrence Baker discusses his life and career. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1947, Baker moved to Cleveland in the late 1960s. Baker's early education lacked art programs, so he looked over his brother's shoulder for art inspiration. Art is Baker's own endeavor, and he considers himself as the sole motivator for his artwork. He challenges himself to find individuality in his artwork and to be recognized by the art community. Baker identifies himself first as an artist, then as African…

Virgie Patton-Ezelle Interview, 28 October 2008

Artist Virgie Patton-Ezelle, a native Clevelander, discusses her life and career as an artist. Ms. Patton-Ezelle describes the earliest recognition of her artistic ability and its impact on her identity. She notes individuals who encouraged her to pursue art as a professional, especially her teacher at John Hay High School, Mrs. Shidoba; artist John Ferguson of Karamu House; her instructors at the Cleveland Institute of Art, including artists Paul Travis and John Tyrell; and arts patron Richard…

John L. Moore Interview, 13 January 2009

Artist John L. Moore discusses his life and art. Born on the east side of Cleveland in 1939, Moore attended East High School and took art classes at the Cleveland Museum of Art before attending Cuyahoga Community College and later Kent State University, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Art. The artist discusses his experiences at these institutions, including information about numerous individuals who had an impact on his artistic development. After high school, Moore joined the Army,…

Al Bright Interview, 28 October 2008

Al Bright has been driven since childhood by his art, "a force inside him." He describes a childhood incident with racism, which taught him the feeling of "nothingness." The incident did not leave him hating white people, but did lead him to read philosophy, which has influenced his art. Bright won Junior Achievement award in high school, met CEO Ed Mosler who encouraged him to go to college and helped him attend the University of Youngstown. Bright came from a very musically creative family,…

Mark Howard Interview, 28 October 2008

Artist Mark Howard discusses his personal background and career, including his family and art education. Born in Newark, New Jersey, Howard realized he had artistic abilities as a young child. With early encouragement from his mother, Howard pursued his interests in drawing and had an "insatiable" demand for paper and art supplies. Although his early education did not provide arts programs, his teachers continued to encourage his abilities. Howard moved to Cleveland in 1981 and enrolled at the…

Johnny Coleman Interview, 29 October 2008

Artist Johnny Coleman discusses his personal background and career as an artist. Coleman was born in Saugus, Massachusetts, and grew up in Redlands, California. Early in life, Coleman struggled as an artist, "drifting in the streets" as a method of learning the arts, but eventually took a full-time job at a drugstore. After several years at the drugstore, Coleman's friends and especially his brother encouraged him to pursue his artistic abilities. Coleman took formal art classes at Santa Barbara…

Anna Arnold Interview, 29 October 2008

Cleveland portrait artist Anna Arnold discusses her love of drawing and painting as a child, encouragement from her parents and teachers, and her ambitions to attend the Cleveland Institute of Art and become a "famous Cleveland artist." She found inspiration at the Cleveland Museum of Art, especially in the work of the Impressionists. Influential CIA teachers included Mo Brooker, Joseph Cintron, and Van Duser. Arnold discusses the importance of bright colors in her work, and the support of…