Hiram College

To celebrate Black History Month, Hiram College is collaborating with Lake View Cemetery Foundation, the History Center at Western Reserve Historical Society and WVIZ/PBS ideastream® on a series of lectures on prominent African Americans buried at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland. The lectures feature a distance-learning component through which high school and middle school students can either interact live or livestream and email questions beforehand.

Last week, Anisi Daniels Smith, Hiram College sociology instructor, presented the first of these lectures, on Jane Edna Hunter. A NAACP Spingarn Medal winner, Hunter founded the Working Girls Association, which offers assistance, shelter and education to women. Hunter graduated from the Cleveland Law School.

Vivien Sandlund, Ph.D., professor of history, will present a lecture next Wednesday on Carl and Louis Stokes. Louis Stokes was the first African American congressman elected to Ohio in 1969, headed the Congressional Black Caucus and was the first African American on the House Appropriations Committee. Cleveland-based politician Louis Stokes became the first African American elected mayor of a major U.S. city when he took the office in 1968.

Wrapping up the series, Liz Piatt, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology, will present a lecture on Charles and Helen Chesnutt on Feb. 28.  Charles Chesnutt was one of the best known writers of the Harlem Renaissance and the first African-American writer to publish in the Atlantic. His daughter Helen Chesnutt was the first African American teacher in Cleveland Public Schools. Both were actively involved in social, educational and civic efforts to not only improve the lives of African Americans, but to change white people’s perceptions of African Americans during the early 20th century.

While these men and women spent a large part or all of their lives in Cleveland, their influence reaches beyond the city limits. They paved the way, in social, political, educational and civil means, for generations to follow.