Karamu House – oldest African-American Theater in US

Karamu House is the oldest African-American theater in the United States.

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes

Many of Langston Hughe’s plays were developed and  premiered at the theater.

In 1915, a pair of Oberlin graduates opened a settlement house in an area of Cleveland  to establish a common ground where people of different races, religions, social and economic backgrounds could come together to seek and share common ventures.

The “Playhouse Settlement” quickly became a magnet for some of the best African-American artists of the day. Dancers, printmakers, actors, writers all found a place where they could practice their crafts. The Playhouse Settlement was renamed Karamu, a Swahili word meaning “Place of enjoyment in the Center of the Community”, in 1941.

Another notable Karamu actor was Robert Guillaume – a film, stage and television actor best known for starring — in the late 1970s–mid 1980s — in the television situation-comedy series Soap and its spin-off series Benson.


Karamu House Ohio Historical Marker

Karamu House Ohio Historical Marker


Sankofa Fine Art Plus commissioned nationally renowned muralist Kent Twitchell to work with select local artists and community members to honor one of Karamu House’s most successful alums, Ruby Dee. The 40′ mural was officially unveiled in a ceremony on July 26, 2013.






Photos and Videos from the Ruby Dee mural unveiling and ceremony

Address: 2355 E 89th St, Cleveland, OH 44106

Just a few miles from downtown Cleveland.

Phone: (216) 795-7070