Toppin was born in 1940 and grew up in the Cedar-Central and Glenville neighborhoods. His grandparents came to Cleveland from Georgia during the Great Migration, and his paternal grandfather started Majestic Cab Co. His father worked at the TRW plant in Euclid. He recalls the "Gold Coast" entertainment venues along East 105th Street, including in the Euclid-East 105 area, in the 1950s-70s and Motown artists who played the clubs. He describes the racial transition in the area as one from white-owned businesses catering to whites and then, increasingly blacks. When blacks became the main clientele, whites sold out and left within a very few years in the 1960s. He remembers seeing the Sowinski riot in 1966, moving just across the line into East Cleveland in 1968, and having bullets hit his house during the Glenville shootout. Toppin discusses the impact of the Cleveland Clinic on the Euclid-East 105 area. He attended Catholic schools, including St. Thomas Aquinas (where he was only the third black student) and Cathedral Latin. He recounts his work for Addressograph-Multigraph in Euclid and, later, the Home Repair Resource Center in Cleveland Heights. He moved to Cleveland Heights in the late 1970s.
Toppin, Russell J. (interviewee)
Souther, J. Mark (interviewer)
Provost Summer Program
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"Russell J. Toppin Sr. Interview, 19 June 2013" (2013). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 990022.