integrating shaker heights
March 1961, my family moved from Cleveland to Shaker Heights Ohio. This was significant because the Whiting family were one of the first African-Americans to move into this rich, white, and oh-so exclusive suburb.
The timing was significant because this was the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. The news was full of tear gas, cattle prods, sit-in's, and the often violent pushback from racist white Americans.
I was 7 years old and entered the 1st grade at Onaway Elmentary School. I was the first and only Black student until my brother Steven and Nancy Lewis started there when I was in 4th grade.
After 50 years I had to tell my tale. Let’s face it, it was inside of me for half a century.
When I first posted this on Facebook & YouTube I was overwhelmed by the responses. People volunteered their own stories and memories. Some even began to write theirs up. I heard from old friends, shocked my new ones, and learned of antisemitism in Shaker as well as racism and classism. Please feel free to share memories here on this page. -Jerry
Family friend Paul Mason told his story in the 2004 ABC documentary The Reunion. This is my story.
All power to the people!