A Different Kind of Delta
|• Total||7.58 sq mi (19.63 km2)|
|• Land||7.58 sq mi (19.63 km2)|
|• Water||0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)|
|Elevation||141 ft (43 m)|
|• Density||1,478.03/sq mi (570.63/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central (CST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0668601|
Cleveland has a large commercial economy, with numerous restaurants, stores, and services along U.S. 61. Cleveland is one of the two county seats of Bolivar County (the other being Rosedale) Cleveland is also home to Delta State University and The Grammy Museum Mississippi, the first Grammy Museum outside of Los Angeles.
Named after President Grover Cleveland, the town began formation in 1869 as people moved inland from the Mississippi River. The Louisville, New Orleans & Texas Railroad ran through the town and a portion of the railroad remains there today. Early records show the community was called Fontaine in 1884 and at some point Coleman's Station. Moses W. Coleman built the first home on the bayou in the area. In 1885, it was officially named Sims after Rueben T. Sims, who owned part of the land on which the town stood. The village of Cleveland was chartered on March 25, 1886, and the United States Post Office recognized the town as such on August 5, 1887. It was Sims's son, B.C. Sims, who was responsible for the name change to Cleveland.
The town grew steadily and by 1901 Cleveland was named the second county seat and a new courthouse was erected. Bolivar County is one of ten counties in Mississippi with two judicial districts.
As more trees were cleared, more land was put into cultivation. In the early days, all of the planting and harvesting was done by hand. At the end of WWI, African Americans left Bolivar County in great numbers, but many stayed, becoming tenant farmers. There was an increasing demand for labor and Delta planters began to recruit overseas. Today, in addition to the first settlers of English, Scottish, German, Irish, and African descent, Bolivar County is its own “melting pot” of ethnicities.
The African-American influence in Cleveland's history is quite evident. Nearby Dockery Plantation is designated with a Mississippi Blues Trail marker declaring the location as the probable “Birthplace of the Blues.” Many of the early Delta Bluesmen lived and worked around Dockery, influencing each other and educating the next generation.
In the early 1920s, as the State Legislature considered a location for a new Normal college, Cleveland became the obvious choice due to its central Delta location, the railroad, and the donation of land. However, perhaps the most important factor in the equation was the City leaders’ willingness to relocate the infamous Black Bear Saloon that was located between the depot and the soon-to-be Delta Normal College, now Delta State University. In the early 1950s city leaders were able to attract Baxter Laboratories and Mississippi Power & Light’s Delta Steam Electric Station just north of town. The population of Cleveland basically doubled over the following decade.
In 1967, Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Joseph S. Clark Jr. began Senate hearings to assess the effectiveness of the War on Poverty programs. The first field hearings were held in Jackson, Mississippi, and the following day Kennedy and Clark set out to visit "pockets of poverty" in the Mississippi Delta. They arrived in Cleveland, along with Marian Wright and Peter Edelman, for a tour conducted by Amzie Moore. There they observed barefoot, underfed African-American children in tattered clothing, with vacant expressions and distended bellies. Kennedy told Edelman that he thought he had seen the worst poverty in the nation in West Virginia, but it paled in comparison to the poverty he observed in Cleveland.
Most recently, the City of Cleveland and Bolivar County, partnering with DSU, was able to see the realization of the Grammy Museum adjacent to Delta State’s campus. It is the most technologically advanced music museum in the world.
Cleveland is also home to the Railroad Heritage Museum, housing the largest O gauge model layout in the southeast, thousands of railroad artifacts, and a 1941 Illinois Central caboose, all paying tribute to Cleveland's railroad beginnings. The Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum is located on the third floor of the Delta State Archives & Museum. The Boo Ferriss Baseball Museum, located beside the DSU baseball stadium, honors the late Red Sox pitcher and Hall of Famer, Boo Ferriss, a Shaw, Miss. native and legendary coach at DSU. The Amzie Moore House is the actual home of the late Civil Rights leader, which has been preserved and converted into a museum, paying tribute to his efforts. The home has also been designated as a stop on the Freedom Trail.
Geography and climate
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Cleveland is located 19 mi (31 km) southeast of Rosedale and the Mississippi River along Mississippi Highway 8. U.S. Route 61 (N-S) and route 8 (E-W) are the main highways serving Cleveland. Jones Bayou and the old Illinois Central Railroad pass through the city from south to north.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.58 square miles (19.6 km2), all land.
|Climate data for Cleveland, Mississippi|
|Record high °F (°C)||80
|Average high °F (°C)||51.3
|Average low °F (°C)||33.2
|Record low °F (°C)||−6
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||5.68
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||0.6
|U.S. Decennial Census|
|Black or African American||5,519||49.28%|
|Hispanic or Latino||284||2.54%|
As of the 2020 United States Census, there were 11,199 people, 4,266 households, and 2,611 families residing in the city.
Arts and culture
Mississippi Blues Trail
Four Mississippi Blues Trail markers are located in Cleveland. The first marker recognizes Chrisman Street, which once served as the center of African-American business and social life in Cleveland. The second marker celebrates blues musician W. C. Handy. The third marker is located at the Grammy Museum Mississippi. The fourth marker recognizes Rev. C.L. Franklin, who preached at St. Peter's Rock M.B. Church here, influenced gospel, R&B and blues artists, and his daughters Aretha, Erma and Carolyn became noted soul singers after starting out singing in church.
Colleges and universities
Bolivar County residents have residency for two community colleges: Coahoma Community College and Mississippi Delta Community College. Their main campuses respectively are in unincorporated Coahoma County and Moorhead in Sunflower County.
Primary and secondary schools
The City of Cleveland is served by the Cleveland School District. Schools within the Cleveland city limits include:
- Cleveland Central High School – Formed in mid-2017 by the consolidation of Cleveland High School and East Side High School, occupying the former Cleveland High School and Margaret Green Junior High School.
- Cleveland Central Middle School – Formed in mid-2017 by the consolidation of D.M. Smith Middle School and Margaret Green Junior High School, located at the former East Side High School campus.
- Elementary schools
- Nailor Elementary School
- Cypress Parks Elementary School
- Pearman Elementary School
- Parks Elementary School
- D. M. Smith Elementary
- Alternative School
- Cleveland Voc Tech Complex
- Private schools
- K-12: Bayou Academy
- K-6: Presbyterian Day School
Previously ethnic Chinese students were required to attend separate schools, something that persisted into the 1940s. The Chinese Mission School educated them. This building was demolished in 2003.
- The Bolivar Bullet
- The Bolivar Commercial (Defunct)
- The Cleveland News Leader (Defunct)
- The Cleveland Current (Defunct)
- Channel 17, WXVT-LD
- 88.1 WDSW-LP: (Cleveland, Delta State University) Adult Album Alternative|Americana (music)|Blues
- 92.1 WKXY: Country
- 98.3 WBYB (FM): Oldies
- 101.7 WZYQ: Adult R&B
The city of Cleveland is served and protected by the Cleveland Police Department and is located on South Sharpe Avenue. Currently, 45 people are employed by the department. Of the 45, 39 are sworn police officers and six civilians serve in a support role. Sworn officers average out to one officer per 357 citizens.
The Cleveland Volunteer Fire Department is currently rated Class 4 by the State Rating Bureau and has three paid employees and 37 volunteer fire fighters. The paid employees include a Fire Inspector, Maintenance Engineer and Maintenance Assistant. All other positions are volunteer. The department operates from three separate fire stations, including a new station at the Cleveland Municipal Airport that opened in late 2011 and utilizes four front line pumpers, two rescue/utility vehicles, an aerial platform pumper, an airport/crash rescue truck, one Ford F-2500 with a bed mounted deluge gun, a Hazardous Materials Response Unit and one backup pumper for its daily operations. The department also operates a training facility that is home to a rope rescue tower, smoke house, ventilation simulator, confined space maze, drafting pit, and a Class A burn facility.
Bolivar Medical Center is a hospital in Cleveland with emergency services.
- Bobby Bradford – jazz trumpeter, cornetist, bandleader, and composer
- Amzie Moore – Civil rights activist
- Walter Rhodes – blues accordionist and singer
- Bobbie L. Steele – 32nd president of Chicago's Cook County Board of Commissioners
- Larry Speakes – acting spokesman for the White House under President Ronald Reagan
- Professional baseball players:
- Professional football players:
- Johnny O'Bryant III – professional basketball player
- Margaret Wade – Basketball Hall of Fame Coach, namesake of the Wade Trophy
- "Cleveland". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior.
- "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 24, 2022.
- "Circuit Courts - State of Mississippi Judiciary".
- "Bolivar County, Mississippi Demographics - Income, Housing, Race, Business".
- "Home". The Mississippi Blues Trail. Retrieved March 9, 2023.
- "Welcome Guide | Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce".
- Schmitt, Edward R. (2011). President of the Other America: Robert Kennedy and the Politics of Poverty. University of Massachusetts Press. pp. 178, 179. ISBN 9781558499041.
- "Welcome Guide | Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce".
- Mississippi Atlas & Gazeteer, DeLorme, 4th ed., 2001, pp. 28-9 ISBN 0-89933-346-X
- Cleveland, MS, 7.5 Minute Topographic Quadrangle, USGS, 1966 (1984 rev.)
- "NOAA NCEI U.S. Climate Normals Quick Access". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved November 27, 2021.
- United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved September 2, 2013.
- "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 7, 2021.
- "List of Blues Trail Markers". Mississippi Blues Commission. Retrieved December 1, 2013.
- "Student Residency Archived August 4, 2017, at the Wayback Machine." Coahoma Community College. Retrieved on July 8, 2017.
- "Message from the President Archived July 4, 2017, at the Wayback Machine." Mississippi Delta Community College. Retrieved on July 8, 2017.
- Home. Cleveland School District. Retrieved on July 2, 2017.
- Estrin, James (March 13, 2018). "Neither Black Nor White in the Mississippi Delta". The New York Times. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
In the mid-1940s, there were separate classrooms for Chinese students in Cleveland, Miss.
- Thornell, John G. (2008). "A Culture in Decline: The Mississippi Delta Chinese". Southeast Review of Asian Studies. 30: 196–202.
- "Police Department". Cleveland, MS Chamber of Commerce. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved May 30, 2007.
- History of Cleveland's Jewish community (from the Institute of Southern Jewish Life)