Is Cuyahoga Valley a civil rights park? It was created in 1974 as part of the federal government's Parks to People policy. It was born out of the civil rights and environmental movements of the 1960s and early 1970s. For the first 40 years or so of the park’s history, the focus was on building access. Trail networks. A diverse menu of programs. Volunteer and education opportunities. For the National Park Service, we are an “urban park.” For people who visit us from urban centers, we feel rural or suburban. We are part of the metropolitan area, but we are also apart. In-between spaces are good spaces to explore what brings us together--and what divides us. Or just to explore nature.
As we prepare for our 50th anniversary, we are exploring park themes through the experiences of people whose stories have not always been told. Here we share stories about African Americans with connections to Cuyahoga Valley. Some people were just traveling through. Some lived here. Some worked here. Some played here.
Cuyahoga Valley is included in a 2022 study by the National Park Service called African Americans and the Great Outdoors. This research report includes a StoryMap with links to essays and other resources.
This page is a work in progress, so please check back and see what our research has uncovered.
We are also participating in the Green Book Cleveland project to map the history of Black entertainment, leisure, and recreation sites in Northeast Ohio. Visit that website to read about three newly rediscovered places in Cuyahoga Valley: the Drift Inn/Cabin Club, Stonibrook, and Lake Glen.