At the Western Reserve Historical Society, we provide exhibits, programming, preservation, and access to the history of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, which includes African-American history and the history of social justice.

WRHS’s mission is to inspire people to discover the American experience through the tangible history of northeast Ohio. We strive for relevance and do our best to collect history as it happens so that we may give audiences the opportunity to discover history through their own lens and world view. History is made every day, and WRHS makes every effort to share stories that are truthful, balanced, and representative of the region we serve.
Black Agency & Black Activism
Around Cleveland & Around the World
By: Dr. Regennia N. Williams, Historian

“What’s past is prologue.” Playwright William Shakespeare suggested as much in The Tempest more than 400 years ago, just prior to the beginning of African servitude in what would become the United States of America. In the first decade of the 20th century, during the era of Jim Crow segregation, philosopher George Santayana wrote in The Life of Reason, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” While both authors are long dead and frequently misquoted, thought leaders throughout the global community are expressing similar sentiments in our time, as they struggle to explain the growing activism and public protests, both peaceful and violent, following the death of George Floyd, a black man, at the knee of Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer. Many historians–while refusing to accept fate and destiny as acceptable explanations for current events, will admit that one can learn valuable lessons by carefully studying the American past.
Share Your Story
WRHS preserves the tangible history of our region, history which can be perceived and experienced in the exhibit galleries, among our properties, and in the Research Library.

In line with our mission to tell your stories, we are interested in collecting documents, artifacts, sound files, or moving images (videos, gifs, etc.) that help illustrate life for our community. We are interested in photographs, correspondence, journals, artwork, music, poetry, and recipes, anything that shows how you, your family, or your neighbors experience life.

The materials you share will become a part of the collections of Western Reserve Historical Society. They will help us teach others about our region and how we live as individuals, as institutions, and as a community.
Please be advised if you have any questions about your submissions, or about any restrictions on the use of your submission please contact us at Info .