On April 24, 2016, Restore Cleveland Hope in collaboration with Cleveland Public Theatre and University Circle Inc, hosted "Road to Hope" at the Cozad-Bates House where an afternoon of free performances themed around the Underground Railroad were offered, followed by the dedication ceremony and unveiling of the "Bench by the Road" awarded by the Toni Morrison Society through the donation of philanthropist, Toby Devan Lewis. Speakers included; Dr. Marilyn Mobley, Chris Ronayne, Raymond Bobgan, Dr. Carolyn Denard, Dr. Craig Stutman, Kathryn Puckett, and Joan Southgate.
The "Bench By The Road Project" was launched by the Toni Morrison Society in honor of Nobel Laureate, Toni Morrison. This bench is placed in recognition of the heroic freedom seekers who made the arduous journey north to freedom along the Underground Railroad, aided in part by Cleveland's African-American and White anti-slavery community. Horatio Cyrus Ford and Samuel Cozad III, successful businessmen and property owners in the are now known as University Circle, and African-American businessman and civil rights activist, John Malving, were exemplars of Clevleand's participation in the resistance to slavery and in the struggle for social justice. This bench is a memorial to the freedom seekers who passed through Cleveland and to those Cleveland residents who assisted them on their journey.
Produced by Simone Barros
Photographed & Edited by Zach Betonte