Emily Peck on School Desegregation in Cleveland

The following clip relates to the Ohio Department of Education curriculum for Social Studies education through:

  • 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.
  • American Government Content Statement #17 – Historically, the United States has struggled with majority rule and the extension of minority rights. As a result of this struggle, the government has increasingly extended civil rights to marginalized groups and broadened opportunities for participation.




Emily Peck was a teacher and later a principal in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. She moved to Cleveland in 1950 from Memphis, Tennessee and took up residence in the Glenville neighborhood. In this story clip, she recounts how Cleveland Metropolitan School District implemented a transportation program, which was essentially the busing of African American students to white schools, in the 1960s in an effort to desegregate school populations and combat overcrowding. She recalls how children shuttled to schools outside their neighborhoods were confined to the classroom and prohibited from having contact with the rest of the student body. She also recounts community efforts to protest the building of new schools within the Glenville neighborhood in an effort to contain the African American population and stop them from moving into the Collinwood neighborhood. Her story ends with the sad fate of Bruce Klunder being run over by a tractor during a demonstration at the construction site of Stephen E. Howe school and the pre-existing tensions prior to the Glenville riots.

Potential Classroom Applications:

This story clip illustrates the tensions involved with attempts to desegregate schools during the civil rights era of the 1960s. Emily Peck’s story provides an example of extra-legal practices employed to try and maintain the racial status quo in the wake of the landmark Supreme Court decision in the case of Brown v Board of Education. It demonstrates the reality for many African Americans during this tumultuous time and highlights the struggle for equal rights and treatment under the law.

Follow this link to the full interview: Emily Peck Interview, 2 April 2008

Picture appears courtesy of Special Collections, Michael Schwartz Library at Cleveland State University.

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