Historian Shares Lives of Three Black Groundbreakers at WRHS Blog

Bernard, Julian, and Robert Madison looking over model for one of their designs, the United States embassy building in Senegal, in 1966.

 

The Western Reserve Historical Society has had longtime partnership with various segments of the community to establish, develop and house archives relating to their history in the greater community. One of the is the African American Archives, which now includes “In Their Voices: Documenting the African American Experience in Cleveland, An Initiative to Promote Listening, Learning, and Teaching.”

Among other things, it features a collection of first-person narratives and other primary documents. It’s currently looking for stories about how people are surviving now in this season of pandemic and protest.

The Western Reserve Historical Society’s blog features a new post by historian Dr. Regennia N. Williams exploring the legacy of three significant black men, including one Clevelander.

“May 29, 2020 was the Friday after Mr. Floyd’s death on Memorial Day and the day before the first round of related peaceful protests and violent unrest in Greater Cleveland, Ohio,” she writes. “It was also the date that I decided to invite members of the Facebook group for the African American Archives Auxiliary of the Western Reserve Historical Society to join me for the June 1, 2020, launch of a new initiative, ‘Black Agency and Black Activism, around Cleveland and around the World.’ My goal was to raise awareness about this topic in recent history.

“As commentators began to compare the events of 2020 with those of the turbulent decade of the 1960s, I decided that the focus of my ‘Agency . . . Activism’ posts for the first week in June would be the power of the written and spoken word, according to three black men with firsthand knowledge of the 1960s: James Baldwin, Robert P. Madison, and the Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II.”

You can read her detailed take on the lives and contributions of these men: author Baldwin, Cleveland architect Madison (pictured) who released his memoir Designing Victory last year, and activist Barber at the WRHS blog here.

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