Did You Know: Joan Southgate

In honor of Black History Month, throughout the month of February, we will recognize just a few of Case Western Reserve University’s black alumni who have made an impact on their fields, the university and society as a whole.

Photo of Joan Southgate
Photo credit: Restore Cleveland Hope

In 2002, one Case Western Reserve University alumna set out to retrace the steps of escaped slaves and conductor families on the Underground Railroad.

Joan Southgate, who graduated from what is now the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences in 1954, has traveled more than 500 miles on a journey that began in Ripley, Ohio, and continued through Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada.

Her journey began in Ripley, Ohio, and Southgate has walked through Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada. She chronicled her experience in In Their Path: A Grandmother’s 519-Mile Underground Railroad Walk.

Southgate also founded Restore Cleveland Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to telling Cleveland’s Underground Railroad history and preserving the historic Cozad-Bates House, which is in University Circle.

Previously, Southgate had a 30-year career in social work.

In 2007, Southgate was selected to give the keynote address at Case Western Reserve’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, and in 2018, she was honored through the Trailblazer Project.