Mission Statement

The mission of Restore Cleveland Hope, Inc., is to celebrate Cleveland’s historic anti-slavery past through the establishment and operation of an Underground Railroad education and resource center in the historic Cozad-Bates House.

Vision Statement

Restore Cleveland Hope, Inc. will retell, promote and celebrate Cleveland’s Underground Railroad history. We will serve as a resource for children and adults to inform and inspire them through educational programs. We will act as a unifying force in the community by providing a venue for open dialogue, reflection and reconciliation among all freedom-loving peoples.

Our Origins

In April 2002, Joan Southgate, a retired Social Worker and Cleveland-area activist, stepped off from the small town of Ripley, Ohio, with a simple goal: She wanted to highlight the courage and resourcefulness of the American slave and conductor families who risked so much for freedom on the Underground Railroad. She called her journey IN THEIR PATH! and set out to increase awareness of a moment in history when people came together across color, creed and class to do freedom’s work. Her journey has taken her on a 519 mile walk across Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada. From schoolchildren to community groups, bank president to truck driver, her inspiring story and message of unity has resonated over the miles. Her walk has ended, but her mission-continues.

IN THEIR PATH: A Grandmother’s 519-Mile Underground Railroad Walk is now available, celebrating Joan’s great journey and highlighting the anti-slavery history of Ohio communities she traveled through. Joan and Cleveland-area writer Fran Stewart have collaborated on this unique book that honors the brave acts of individuals and families who participated in what has been described as the nation’s earliest integrated civil rights movement. IN THEIR PATH also praises the work of modern-day conductors intent on keeping alive the spirit of the Underground Railroad in their communities and provides travel information for people interested in exploring this incredible legacy for themselves.

Restore Cleveland Hope is Born

It is not taboo to go back and fetch it when you forget.
 a proverb of the Akan people of southern Ghana

On July 9, 2003, Joan Southgate invited six women to her home (Ginger Mook, Nishani Frazier, Binnie Eiger, Binne’ Douglas, Nicki Gudbranson and Fran Stewart) to talk about saving the historic Cozad-Bates House.   Five weeks later twenty three people attended our first community meeting at Western Reserve Historical Society and in tribute to Cleveland’s Underground Railroad code name ‘Hope’ our newly formed grassroots organization took the name Restore Cleveland Hope.

Speaking in churches, synagogues, schools, universities, ward meetings, neighborhood clubs, service organizations and city councils, Ms. Southgate brought attention to Cleveland and Ohio’s antislavery history and championed the mission of Restore Cleveland Hope.  Our organization, now a 501c3 non- profit, has successfully campaigned to save the only pre-civil war home still standing in University Circle and will establish an Underground Railroad Education and Resource Center in the Cozad-Bates House 11508 Mayfield Rd.

Many community groups had been concerned with saving this beautiful Cleveland home for over thirty years.  For three years our large multiracial, multicultural group of activists organized candle light vigils, sidewalk informational sessions (dressed in period costume), engaged various service, arts and church groups and held large public community meetings.  On April 7, 2006, University Hospital Inc. graciously donated the Cozad-Bates Home to University Circle Inc.  Now, University Circle Inc., Restore Cleveland Hope, and the Cleveland Restoration society are collaborating to bring this exquisite, historic building into use as a dynamic Underground Railroad Education and Resource Center.

Sankofa, an Akan word, means go back and fetch it.  There is wisdom in learning from the past to build for the future.   Cleveland seems to have forgotten its vibrant antislavery and Underground Railroad history.  Restore Cleveland Hope’s Underground Railroad Education and Resource Center will recapture the spirit of the Underground Railroad and celebrate the heroic ordinary folks who courageously stepped forward to do-the-right-thing in dangerous times.

You Can Help Save the Cozad-Bates House

  • Drive past and take a look at the beautiful Cozad-Bates house at the corner of Mayfield and East 115th Street, between Euclid and Little Italy. The address is 11508 Mayfield Road.
  • Come join Restore Cleveland Hope in creating something wonderful on this sacred ground.