Cleveland among most segregated cities in U.S.

Recently The Huffington Post ranked Cleveland as the most segregated city in America. The article says that, “in areas with the worst segregation, no one lives in a zip code with anyone of a different race/ethnicity.” Cleveland has been on the top 10 list for a couple of years, but this year it moved up from fifth to first.

“Cleveland’s biggest challenge is desegregation,” Paul Hanson, SAGES professor and anthropologist explained. “The only way we can make a comeback is if this segregation process is turned around.”

In the early 1900s, there were small populations of African-Americans settled in Cedar Central. As the city became more developed, more African-Americans migrated to this same area just to be kicked out later. Until the 1970s, they were pushed into small areas through a process called “urban renewal.” Thus, they were pushed to the east side of Cleveland.

Hanson explained that in the 1960s there were riots between African-Americans and Italian-Americans. Due to the overwhelming number of children attending the school for African-Americans, a large school bus was used to bring some of the children to a school in Little Italy. Some Italian Americans were not happy with this, and they attacked the bus while the police stood by and did nothing.

“There’s still racism everywhere,” Hanson said.

According to Hanson, the combination of slums, gang/drug violence, prostitution and housing stock makes East Cleveland a relatively unsafe area.

John Grabowski, professor in the history department and the editor of the online The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History/Dictionary of Cleveland Biography believes it is Case Western Reserve University’s responsibility to help East Cleveland and other run-down communities to get back on their feet.

“[CWRU] is a part of the city,” Grabowski said.

Both Hanson and Grabowski agreed that our campus is extremely integrated, in contrast with the segregated city around it.

“CWRU is working hard to fit into the community,” Grabowski said.

Grabowski stressed the importance of getting off campus and exploring. He encourages students to simply take the Healthline around the city and get a sense of the neighborhoods around them.

“You can’t live in a bubble,” Grabowski said.