Soul City Cleveland

Soul City Cleveland

The Covid-19 pandemic has reshaped the world, the existing disparities it highlights,  and perspectives on the virus’ impact on different communities and issue areas. While  everyone, regardless of race and national origin, is experiencing stress related to the pandemic, Black senior citizens, children and youth residing in hypersegregated  neighborhoods are especially vulnerable to this stress.

A partnership between Cleveland Rocks: Past, Present and Future, the Youth  Resiliency Institute and the National Rites of Passage Institute, Soul City Cleveland  Stories is a culturally responsive community arts pilot project designed to connect  youth participants residing in under-resourced communities to elder Black artists  through generative immersion. 

Through Soul City Cleveland Stories, project participants ages 15-21 will interview  elder Black musicians and singers. In the process, participants will learn about the  role that music has played in the African-American community in inspiring hope,  optimism, pride and joy- important in a time when the nation and state are  overwhelmed with personal experiences and news of hate crimes, bias, devaluation of  older lives, discrimination and injustice aimed towards people of color. Furthermore,  project participants will be provided with opportunities to interact and remember  the ancestry of communities while impacting the literacy of place and history. 

Through a mix of virtual and in-person workshops, project participants will engage  in journalism and video production using the latest technology. Participants will  explore pedagogy that surround digital media thus addressing the historic  marginalization and stigmatization of youth voice in under-resourced communities  while developing orientations toward digital media methods of acquiring new  knowledge, employability skills, and a sense of their own identities as producers of  authentic media. As part of the project, participants will initiate a repository that  respectfully archives the wisdom and knowledge of elder Black artists. 

An important goal of Soul City Cleveland Stories is to leverage pre-existing  partnerships to prioritize equity, strengthen authentic community engagement, and  provide safe space to dispel the racialized and class-based stigma that attaches to  marginalized communities and populations.

For more information, visit

Special thank you to the Ohio Arts Council for their support of this project.

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