The 65th anniversary of the Billy Graham Crusade at the Warner Park Fieldhouse is coming up.
The crusade, which helped vault the evangelist to a much wider audience, was March 15-April 14, 1953.
Dr. Graham died Tuesday at the age of 99.
It was written of the event by the Association of Religious Data Base, "In the 1950s, the majority of southern white evangelicals worried that civil rights activism was a communist fifth column designed to win the Cold War by destroying racial harmony in the segregated South. Many white evangelists, like Billy Graham, accommodated that paranoia by holding segregated revival meetings in the South. However, Graham's racial views started to shift as he spent time overseas. He realized that segregation horrified global Christians, gave the Soviet's a gift-wrapped opportunity for propaganda, and was not supported in the Bible.
Graham's first integrated crusade was in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1953. After the ropes cordoning off the black section of the auditorium were removed, Graham told the ushers who threatened to put them back up, 'Either these ropes stay down or you can go on and have the revival without me.' From then on, Graham permanently adopted the policy of holding only integrated revivals."
Longtime broadcaster Earl Freudenberg interviewed News-Free Press Editor Lee Anderson about the crusade. He noted that Everett Allen, a newspaper executive, helped raise funds to build the fieldhouse for the event.
Mr. Anderson recalled going to the crusade every night and of Billy Graham popping in the newspaper office one day to chat with him and Mr. Roy McDonald, publisher.
He told of the extensive front-page coverage given of the crusade by the News-Free Press by writer George Burham, who went on to write about many Graham crusades around the world.
Click here to listen to an interview with Earl Freudenberg and Lee Anderson about Mr. Graham's visit.
Click here for a video posted by David Carroll, from when Dr. Graham spoke at the Baylor School in 1991.
At 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, the city of Cleveland will drape the Billy Graham Avenue street signs beginning at Parker Street. The world renowned pastor began his higher education journey when Bob Jones College was located in Cleveland.
On Nov. 7, 2017, Mayor Tom Rowland held a street sign dedication ceremony in honor of Graham’s 99th birthday. Reverend Billy Graham died at the age of 99.
Mayor Rowland will be speaking and reflecting on the legacy of Reverend Graham at noon on Wednesday to the Cleveland Civitan at the Elks Lodge.