Remembering Dr. King's Cleveland connection

Submitted by sshockley on
Dr. King speaks at Glenville High School in 1967

As the nation pays tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin L. King today, we thought it was only fitting to remember his connection to the city of Cleveland.

As Clevelanders, we know that our city holds a plethora of history, including the nation's first city to have publicly lit streetlights - Public Square.  It was once known as the wealthiest community globally with Millionaire's Row, a.k.a. Euclid Ave as its showcase, and we have darker memories that include the infamous Hough Riots.  

We all know who Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was, what he stood for, and we appreciate that most of us get a day off from work in his honor.  However, have you ever thought about how strongly connected to Cleveland he was?

Dr. King frequently visited Cleveland in the mid-1960s after the Hough riots aiding community leaders and offering advice on dealing with the city's racial problems. He worked feverishly to register black voters and boost Carl Stokes' chances of becoming the first black mayor of an American city.   

On April 26, 1967, during his visit to Glenville High School, Dr. King offered this advice to those in attendance, "If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures." That quote has become a staple in many African American households.

Dr. King's Cleveland efforts proved fruitful when Carl B. Stokes was elected mayor of Cleveland on November 7, 1967, fifty years ago this year.