October 13, 2016

CSU professors offer insight to history of desegregation of Cleveland schools

The newly released publication ‘’Boycotts, Busing, & Beyond,’’ authored by four Cleveland State University professors is a perfect story regarding what is going on in today’s society.

Published by Kendall Hunt, this book explores white supremacy and black inferiority during the 1960s in Cleveland. Going in depth about the desegregation that affected the schools in Cleveland, the authors also examine many court cases, such as the 1954 ruling Brown v Topeka Board of Education.

Written by Professors Ronnie A. Dunn, Donna M.Whyte, James Hardiman, Mittie Davis Jones, and Adriennie Hatten. Ronnie A. Dunn, Ph.D., an associate professor of urban studies at Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, and Donna McIntrye Whyte, Ph.D., the interim director of Black Studies who also teaches courses in African-American history, discussed the book in separate interviews.

When asked what the biggest factor was in publishing this book, Dunn responded, “The most important thing—is to discuss the history of school segregation in the North, and we use Cleveland as a case study because Cleveland, the 1964 Kracket v Cleveland Public Schools court case, was the first post-Brown challenge to school segregation in the urban North,” Dunn said.

Dunn added that the late congressman Louis Stokes was the legal counsel who brought the case and while Dunn was stationed in the military, he met Charles Kracket.

Kracket’s mother Daisy had filed a case on behalf of her son. Dunn located Charles and his brother and was able to get substantial information regarding the case.

When readers read the book, they realize segregation wasn’t just in the South, but also was present in the North.

Dunn wants readers to come away from the book with some understanding of the times and its legacy.

Dunn said he wants readers to have a more in-depth and fuller understanding of the history and legacy of school segregation and the impact that it has even in present-day society.

“When we look at inner cities and the status of our schools today, readers will realize how a lot of that stems from these historic challenges around equal education for in this regard (not only) African Americans, but ultimately all populations,” Dunn said.

With all the problems going on today when it comes to racial tensions and how it compares to the problems that plagued the 1960s when it came to African Americans, Dunn responded.

“We know that a lot of the present issues that we are seeing, specifically pertain to the interactions and encounters between African Americans and the police.” Dunn said. “The police are the front end of that criminal justice system. They are the most frequent contact the average citizen has with that system.”

Dunn added that until equitable, equal, and quality education is available for all citizens, these type of challenges and problems will persist. As America becomes a more racially diverse society, it will continue to see an increase in the types of conflicts now occurring.

Whyte said her dissertation at Case Western University, “African American Community Politics and Racial Equality in Cleveland Public Schools,” gave her the expertise and knowledge to contribute to a book on racial inequality and desegregation in Cleveland.

“I’ve always had this interest in learning the basis for a boycott that occurred in 1964 because I was one of the students that actually supported the boycott and I stayed home,” Whyte said. “As a high school student I was not as involved as perhaps parents of students who were experiencing what the African American community perceived as desegregation of African American students in communities that were predominately African American.”

When asked what her favorite part of the book is, Whyte responded: “When I think back on my education in Cleveland and much of it in my dissertation I can remember because I was a student in Cleveland schools during the time of the desegregation, one of the things that impressed me most, which I think also led to my activism around public school concerns and eventually led to my service on the Shaker Heights school board, is that parents have a voice.”

Whyte said she wants people who read the book to understand the desegregation in schools and how it just didn’t happen in the South.

“There’s much can be taken away from this,” she said. “The students that experienced desegregation in Cleveland Schools -- each one of them has a story. They’re adults, and they’ve had their lives, careers and their families and all, and so we have to remember that we have to talk to them to learn from them …from what they experienced.”



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