Food Race Justice 2014 Black Land Workshop

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Black land use in Cleveland 1800s-2000s

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  • Unlike may other parts of the country, Black people in Cleveland do not have a long history of working in agriculture.
  • “Black people have been in Cleveland since before there was a Cleveland.” 1809 : African American Inventor George Peake settles in Cleveland. Brought his own capital, invented a grain mill. Cleveland incorporated in 1814.1820-1860: Black-owned construction, manufacturing and service industry flourishes. Substantial agricultural center: European immigrants did dairy and fruit farm labor.1850: Abolition radicals , white anti-slavery organizers, helped seekers of freedom from slavery pass through Cleveland, established “Hope’ as a major stop on the Underground Railroad. Southern blacks work as laborers, not in agriculture.1890s: African-Americans factory workers buy homes in Mt. Pleasant, historically racially integrated. First settlers were Manx & Hungarian farmers, sold land to black homeowners. Like most of the city, not a strong history of segregation.1910-1920 Black population of Central neighborhood quadruples: was the main business district in Cleveland, hired blacks to work there. One of the first “black neighborhoods” in Cleveland. Strong working class until dense concentration of public housing located there depressed the diverse local economy. As renters, relationship to land was not ownership
  • 1910-1930: Four big shifts affected black relationships to land1910-1920 Black population of Central neighborhood quadruples: was the main business district in Cleveland, hired blacks to work there. One of the first “black neighborhoods” in Cleveland. Strong working class until dense concentration of public housing located there depressed the diverse local economy. As renters, relationship to land was not ownership1900 “Collamer” area experiences environmental degradation: transitions from forest to orchards; due to disease, shifted from fruit orchard to vineyards; by 1930s was becoming residential, strong Jewish presence. This is the area now known as East Cleveland, where I grew up with a grapevine in my back yard.1930: Racial segregation in housing andrecreation becomes the norm. Restrictive covenants in deeds, whites only recreational neighborhoods and facilities enforced by threat of violence rather than by law.Cleveland is a metropole, farming declines from 4,500 farms in 1910 to just1,200 farms in 1930
  • 1940-1960 : Second Great Migration: 30% of Cleveland’s population is black, many of them new migrants from the south. Brought many agricultural traditions, backyard gardens with them.1950s: Hough and Glenville neighborhoods become predominately black due to blockbusting and white flight. Schools become highly racially segregated.1966-67: Hough and Glenville riots. Many displaced blacks buy homes in East Cleveland, which experiences white flight. Did not become severely economically depressed until deindustrialization in the 1980s and 1990s.1974: Equal Credit Opportunity Act: women’s access to credit, homeownership. Blacks move into integrated suburbs (Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights)Between 1980 and 2010, steel and manufacturing left the Great Lakes area. Cleveland's land use changed dramatically. 500,000 people moved out of the city, leaving a center city with vacant land and brownfields; and white flight to exurbia. In the past decade, the center city is becoming gentrified, with blacks residing in older historically black neighborhoods without commerical districts, or inner ring suburbs.
  • So, that is a peek at the past.We’re here to ask you about the future. What do you want land use in your community to look like in the future?(Individual silent reflection on desire for block, neighborhood, community)
  • Food Race Justice 2014 Black Land Workshop

    1. 1. What have black relationships to land looked like in Cleveland?
    2. 2. A history of Black/Land in Cleveland • 1850s: Abolition radicals establish “Hope” on the Underground Railroad • 1890s: African- Americans factory workers buy homes in Mt. Pleasant • 1809 : Black inventor George Peake settles in Cleveland • 1820-1860: Black-owned construction, manufacturing and service industry flourishes. Dairy and fruit farm laborers are eastern European immigrants.
    3. 3. A history of Black/Land in Cleveland 1910-1930: • Black population of Central Ave. quadruples during Great Migration. • East Cleveland transitions from orchards to vineyards to residential area • Racial segregation in housing, recreation starts to become the norm • Farming declines from 4,500 to 1,200 farms
    4. 4. A history of Black/Land in Cleveland 1940-1960 : Second Great Migration: 30% of Cleve population is black 1950s: Hough and Glenville neighborhoods become predominately black 1966-67: Hough and Glenville riots 1974: Equal Credit Opportunity Act: women have access to credit, homeownership 1980-2010: 500,000 people leave post-industrial Cleveland
    5. 5. How do you want land to be used in your community?

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