History at Your DoorstepHistory atYour Doorstep is a Cleveland Stater special series by the Spring 2011 class of reporters. Our goal is to show how history continues toimpact our lives today. We will highlight local treasures of the city of Cleveland and surrounding areas in every issue. It is our hope to inspire you to visit or re-visit the historical landmarks of this great city. The title was proposed by Dr. Anup Kumar, adviser of The Cleveland Stater.
The Home of Rock and Roll
From the very beginning, Cleveland has been at the heart of the history of rock and roll music and culture. The Rock and Roll of Fame, built in 1993, honors the key role played by Cleveland in the history of popular music in its formative years in the 1950s. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has also been designated as a historical landmark by the city and the state because it was here that local deejay Alan Freed coined the famous term.
The use of the phrase “rock and roll” has historical roots in the euphemistic reference to sex in rhythm and blues music, which was known for its youth-inspired lyrics and electric guitars. The term’s sexual connotation comes from the 1922 Trixie Smith song “My Baby Rocks Me with One Steady Roll.”
Museum Founded by Flewellen Remains Closed and Ignored
Many Clevelanders and residents of surrounding cities are unaware of the 57-year-old historical landmark, the African American Cultural & Historical Society Museum, that housed artifacts and cultural exhibits of African American history. The museum has been closed for the last five years after the black history pioneer and founder of the museum, Icabod Flewellen, fell ill. There were also not enough funds or support to keep the organization running.
The museum was one of the first African American museums in the United States founded in 1953 by Flewellen. The West Virginia native began his collection of African American memorabilia at the age of 13.