Shaker Heights has Tried to Tackle Race for 60 Years. What if Trying isn’t Enough?
It’s an article of faith in this Cleveland suburb: If any place can navigate the complex issues of race in America, it’s Shaker Heights. Sixty years ago, black and white families came together to create and maintain integrated neighborhoods. The school district began voluntary busing in 1970, and boundary lines were drawn to make schools more integrated. Student groups dedicated themselves to black achievement, race relations and cross-racial friendship.
So why, last November, was 16-year-old Olivia McDowell on the stage of Shaker Heights High School, begging the packed auditorium to understand how hard it is to be one of the few black kids in Advanced Placement English?
Sixty-five years after the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision declared segregated schools inherently unequal and ordered desegregation plans, many school districts remain deeply segregated. Racial issues are raw in many systems.