Unknown to some, there is a piece of American history in Cleveland that is key to understanding the past behind the Civil Rights movement. St. John’s Episcopal Church, the first authenticated Underground Railroad site in the city, provided passage to many African Americans as they sought freedom from slavery in Canada.
Cleveland Public Theatre celebrates the past, present, and future of this social justice movement with Station Hope, a lively festival that invites guests to engage with cultural artists and organizations from the community while celebrating social justice, freedom and equality at the Ohio City site. This year marks the festival's 10th anniversary.
“Being a part of Station Hope is a tremendous honor for me,” says Kim Furganson, the director of audience engagement and marketing for CPT. “This is a wonderful, family-friendly event that anyone can attend.”
This year, Clevelanders will experience historic retellings of figures like Cleveland olympian Jesse Owens and influential writers Zora Neale Hurston and Winsor French at one of Cleveland’s historic jazz clubs, “Val’s in the Alley.” Guests can also expect to learn about two unseen women of the movement; pieces will feature Ella Baker and Claudette Colvin's Civil Rights work, Lorain native Toni Morrison's writing and stories about abolitionist Harriet Tubman.
Other components of the fest include performances by Reflections Dance Theatre, visual arts installations, a display by the African American Quilt & Doll Guild and local food trucks. Meanwhile, visitors can explore the rich historic grounds of the church where the Underground Railroad once led many enslaved people to freedom.
Station Hope launched in 2014, intending to shine a light on social justice issues while also giving a platform for multimedia performers who, Furganson said, “bring unique perspectives, energy and creativity to the event each year.”
Station Hope takes place Saturday, May 27 at 7:00 p.m. at 2600 Church Ave. in Cleveland. Find more information at cptonline.
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