Annette Tucker Sutherland on Shaker Heights Integration

This clip relates to numerous content standards from the Ohio Department of Education curriculum for Social Studies education, including:

  • American History Content Statement #13: Following Reconstruction, old political and social structures reemerged and racial discrimination was institutionalized.  
  • American History Content Statement #28: Following World War II, the United States experienced a struggle for racial and gender equality and the extension of civil rights.

 

Abstract:

Annette Tucker Sutherland currently serves as Vice President of the Board of Education for Shaker Heights. Having attended the Shaker Heights public school system herself, she became one of the first students to voluntarily integrate at Moreland School in the early 1970s. Ms. Sutherland eventually went on to pursue law at Vanderbilt University and also pursued a career as an accomplished journalist, in addition to teaching at Case Western Reserve University. She has served in countless capacities for the Shaker Heights public school systems and has had three children attend schools in the district. In this interview from 2012, Ms. Sutherland discusses her experience with school integration in 1971. She explains how her upbringing and religious views influenced her to make the choice to integrate and treat all people with respect, regardless of skin color.

Potential Classroom Applications:

This interview clip could provide an excellent introduction to the topic of school integration in the 1960s and 70s. Many students do not understand the great hurdles and obstacles that students, parents and even districts faced in seeking to make public schools more equitable. Thus, this interview, in conjunction with other local examples like Charlise Lyles (Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?), provide students with firsthand accounts in regards to the struggle for school integration. On a national level, this interview can be tied to the Civil Rights Movement, which sought the fair treatment of all citizens of the United States, regardless of skin color. School integration was one of the hallmarks of this mid-20th century movement, as leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed that race relations had to be completely rebuilt, starting with society’s youngest members.

Another excellent way in which educators could integrate this interview clip into their classroom is to connect it with other instances of discrimination throughout the history of the United States. The struggle for gender equality and the equality of the LGBTQ community are both examples of points in history in which a group of individuals was not given the same rights and privileges as the rest of the population. This interview clip could provide an introduction into the topic of discrimination throughout the history of the nation and help students better identify with groups that have been marginalized. Connected with material from the He for She movement and The Welcoming Project, students can better understand the history of the many struggles for equality and appreciate the society in which individuals can experience a newfound sense of freedom.

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