Isaac Haggins was born in New Bern, North Carolina, in 1930. He grew up in Tennessee and Asbury Park, New Jersey. After graduating from West Virginia State College in 1949, Haggins moved to Cleveland to join his brother in the Glenville neighborhood in 1953. In 1956 he bought his first home near Rockefeller Park. After a stint selling shoes, he entered the real estate business, opening an office in Glenville and later in Union-Miles. In 1968 he was the first black real estate broker to open an office in a Cleveland suburb, which was at 2221 North Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights. Within months the office got bombed. The crime was never solved despite an FBI investigation, but the incident so outraged the community that Haggins found many white sellers coming to him wanting to list their homes on the open market as a matter of principle. Haggins claims he listed the first house sold to an African American buyer in Lyndhurst after the bombing. He and his family later moved to Cleveland Heights. Haggins's grandfather, Isaac Smith, was also a real estate pioneer. Born a slave, he developed a large black residential neighborhood in New Bern in the early 20th century after serving as a black state legislator until the passage of the Disfranchisement Act of 1900.
Haggins, Isaac Sr. (interviewee)
Souther, J. Mark (interviewer)
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"Isaac Haggins Sr. Interview, 6 August 2013" (2013). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 990056.