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Title:The Black Freedom Movement and community planning in urban parks in Cleveland, Ohio, 1945-1977
Author(s):Seawell, Stephanie
Director of Research:Lang, Clarence E.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Lang, Clarence E.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Barrett, James R.; Burgos, Adrian; Cha-Jua, Sundiata K.; Oberdeck, Kathryn J.
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Public Space
African American
Civil Rights
Black Power
Abstract:African American residents of Cleveland, Ohio made significant contributions to their city’s public recreation landscape during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. Public parks were important urban spaces—serving as central gathering spots for surrounding neighborhoods and unifying symbols of community identity. When access to these spaces was denied or limited along lines of race, gender, sexuality, or class, parks became tangible locations of exclusion, physical manifestations of the often invisible but understood fault lines of power that fractured, and continues to fracture, urban landscapes. In Cleveland, black activists challenged these fault lines through organizing protests, developing alternative community-run recreation spaces, and demanding more parks and playgrounds in their neighborhoods. This dissertation considers five recreation spaces in Cleveland—a neighborhood park, a swimming pool, a cultural garden, a playground, and a community-run recreation center—in order to make three important interventions into the scholarship on black urban Midwest communities and postwar African American freedom struggles. First, this dissertation takes up spatial analysis of black activism for improved public recreation opportunities, and argues this activism was an important, if often understudied, component of broader Black Freedom Movement campaigns in the urban north. In particular, focusing on recreational spaces allows for a deeper consideration of how young people and children factored into Black Freedom Movement campaigns. Second this dissertation looks at the role of parks and playgrounds in black urban life, arguing that these spaces facilitated intra-racial class production and became significant sites for black participation in the urban public sphere. Finally, Cleveland is understudied in both post-War Black Freedom Movement studies and black urban studies, and this dissertation argues that the events that unfolded in Cleveland were important to understanding these broader national histories.
Issue Date:2014-05-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Stephanie Seawell
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-30
Date Deposited:2014-05

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