Can Black Flight Change the Model of Integration?

Author: Yuvi January 13, 2023 Can Black Flight Change the Model of Integration?

The reputation of Shaker Heights was created by the rejection of white flight in Cleveland, which began as black people moved to Northeast Ohio during the Great Migration. In the 1950s, a handful of black and white couples formed the Ludlow Community Association—a group that encouraged black families to move as well as white families to stay. The result was the first successfully integrated community in Cleveland, and one of the first in the country. And for many years it was regarded as a utopia. In 1963 Cosmopolitan magazine ran a feature called “The Good Life in Shaker Heights”, presenting it as the ideal American town. The New York Times described the city in 1975 as “one of the nation’s most dramatically successful, long-term ventures into racially integrated housing in the suburbs”.

My parents wanted to be a part of such a community. I went to Shaker schools from kindergarten to 12th grade, and was a group leader in the Shaker student group on race relations. Shaker, to me, always felt quaint and extraordinary—not just for its winding, wooded streets lined with elegant Tudors and colonnades, but for the mission of equality that quietly informed every aspect of community life. In our desire for diversity, I felt we were all like-minded.

But not only was Shaker Heights integrated, it prospered. In 1962, the U.S. Census Bureau declared it the nation’s wealthiest community—a bedroom community for the descendants of Cleveland’s carmakers and steelmakers. Its prosperity waned in the late 1960s, but in 1999, when I was entering my junior year of high school, the median household income was still $63,983, which would be $114,336 today.

The median household income is now $92,463, higher than the national average of $69,021, but still a decline of nearly 20 percent from two decades ago. The economic gap between black and white residents is also growing: When adjusted for inflation, the median income of a white household was $68,803 higher than that of a black household in 2010, and is now $94,109 higher.

Judge Dan Aaron Polster, whose parents were original members of the Ludlow Community Association, said the growing economic gap between Shaker Heights residents is forcing some residents to do an introspection about what kind of want diversity. Judge Polster, 71, is a federal judge for the Northern District of Ohio and a lifelong resident of Shaker Heights. He is white. “There is a much bigger economic divergence than before, and that creates some challenges. People vote with their feet,” he said.

Doctor. Glassner said he is aware that some families, both black and white, are unhappy with the changes he has made. But he believes they are in the minority.

“When I talk to families about why they live here and send their kids to school here, they will often talk about the value they place on diversity. But when push comes to shove, It can be challenging,” he said in an interview at his office in Shaker Heights. “Change is hard. This is as true in Shaker Heights as it is anywhere else in this country or the world.

Author: Yuvi

My name is Yuvi, I work as Sub Editor at

13 January, 2023, 3:30 pm

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