Teaching Cleveland
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Elementary School Edition: K-5

Lesson 17

Prominent African-Americans in Cleveland during the 1890s


To introduce students to important members of the African-American community in the 1890s. Students will identify qualities and characteristics of successful citizens and identify prominent citizens of their community today.



  1. Who were prominent African-American citizens in Cleveland during the 1890s?
  2. What makes a citizen "prominent"? What special qualities or characteristics do they have?
  3. Who are the prominent citizens of today's community?


  1. Ask students to define prominent in relation to citizens in the community. (widely known) List qualities or characteristics that would make a person a "prominent" member of the community. (Answers should include but are not limited to accomplishments - personal or professional, hard-working, dedication, success, notoriety.)
  2. Distribute or read to students the biographies of prominent citizens of the African- American community in the 1890s. How do these individuals fit the definition of prominent citizens? Have students identify their characteristics and accomplishments.
  3. The lesson could be extended by having students create their own "Hall of Fame." Ask each student to identify a prominent citizen in their community, identifying the special qualities and characteristics of the person that make them special to the community. Each student will then create a poster that will include the inductee's name and special accomplishments. Encourage students to be thoughtful about their nominations and creative with their posters. Students will then present their posters to the class. Display all posters in the room or hall with the title "Our Community Hall of Fame."

Variation: Have students research prominent African-Americans in Cleveland's history and have them create a "Hall of Fame". Students can use the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History; Black Americans in Cleveland, by Russell H. Davis; Discovery, A Teacher's Guide to Regional History; The Western Reserve Historical Society.

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