Juanita Storey and her husband moved into Cleveland Heights during a time of strong racial segregation. Race was the primary factor in determining where people lived. Realtors played a role in maintainig the racial segregation of the city. She describes the process of racial integration in the city during the 1960s at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The 1960s was a particularly interesting time in Cleveland Heights because of the diversity of attitudes among the city's residents. People of all opinions about race were living in the city. Storey is happy to report that today Cleveland Heights is very integrated although socioeconomic status determines where people live.
Storey, Juanita (interviewee)
Hollowell, Bethany (interviewer)
Provost Summer Program
"Juanita Storey Interview, 14 April 2013" (2013). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 990027.
Juanita Storey [00:00:04] No, my husband was active with the Heights Fund, which was an effort to give. down payments to people who wanted to move into the Heights. That was--I don't know I remember exactly when that was--but that was a positive effort to promote integration in Cleveland Heights.
Bethany Hollowell [00:00:26] [inaudible question]
Juanita Storey [00:00:32] Well, I think he was asked to be involved. I'm trying to remember because it was really something he did. How the money--where the money came from--I think people who are interested in integration must have contributed to it. And as I say it was called the Heights Fund. And, people who wanted to move to Cleveland Heights who might not have enough of a down payment could borrow from the fund and they would pay it, and of course that would keep the fund going. And this was maybe late 70s [or] early 80s, something like that.
Bethany Hollowell [00:01:13] So, you guys--it's interesting because you guys moved in in the early 60s to...
Juanita Storey [00:01:20] Well mid 60s probably.
Bethany Hollowell [00:01:21] Mid 60s to Cleveland Heights and now this effort to integrate is still going on 15 years later...
Juanita Storey [00:01:29] Well now maybe I'm-- Yeah. I would say maybe 10 years. Maybe I'm you know I'm a little fuzzy on the dates for the Heights Fund. I'd have to check with him but I wouldn't say 15 years I would say probably more like 10. Yeah mid 70s mid 70s to early late 70s so.
Bethany Hollowell [00:01:50] So that's something you did, not through work....
Bethany Hollowell [00:01:55] That was just a volunteer activity. Do you know who coordinated that?
Juanita Storey [00:02:00] It was coordinated through the city, I think. It was an arm of some part of the city. If I recall.
Bethany Hollowell [00:02:10] Are you familiar with any kinds of lawsuits that they filed against the city of Cleveland Heights?
Juanita Storey [00:02:20] Not that I know of. I'm not familiar with any anyway.
Bethany Hollowell [00:02:23] Were there efforts to keep integration subdued?
Juanita Storey [00:02:23] No Were there any that you've come come across?
Bethany Hollowell [00:02:33] There have been.
Juanita Storey [00:02:34] Oh.
Bethany Hollowell [00:02:34] In fact there was a case where [inaudible] real estate expressed ... maybe do tests and a white person called and said they were interested...
Juanita Storey [00:02:50] Oh yes. That kind of thing. Yeah. Well that was by that. That must have been by, by the city. This was all by a realtor or something like that.
Bethany Hollowell [00:03:03] Right. Those were individual cases where - you're right, they weren't involved in a suit
Juanita Storey [00:03:09] Oh yeah. Well, I can remember people, you know, that sort of testing.
Bethany Hollowell [00:03:14] The realtor one was ... he would show you certain houses in certain areas in a white neighborhood... for example Roxboro [partially inaudible]
Juanita Storey [00:03:53] Yeah. I suppose that. I do remember the tests of going to, not Stuart Wallace obviously, but to a more conventional realtor and asking about a particular house that had been advertised and having a black person told, Oh well that's no longer on the market, and having a white person encouraged to go see it. But. I remember supposedly our second child. Well by the time he was born we lived in Cleveland Heights and he was supposedly the first black child born to a family that lived in Cleveland Heights although he was born in Saint Ann's which was still in Cleveland. But that was what we were told and I was dumbfounded that that should be true in 1965, when he was born. But I guess that the real conflict didn't come for a while. I think it was because there were so few black families in the, say, from 65 to late 60s. That was not as much of an issue as it became. As I say I'm not. It was it was a point in my life or perhaps I wasn't as aware of some of this as I might have been.
Bethany Hollowell [00:05:12] Keeping up with kids kind of makes you kind of [inaudible]...
Juanita Storey [00:05:17] Yeah that's why I was sort of surprised when I was asked to do this, actually, because I was not one of those people that was really active in the formal efforts or the organizations that grew up around this whole issue.
Bethany Hollowell [00:05:36] Well, it's still important to ... [inaudible] fact that your child was the first... [inaudible].
Juanita Storey [00:05:51] Yeah it was a little bit. I was very surprised when we were told this.
Bethany Hollowell [00:06:01] So, I'm interested in your kids because they didn't go to public schools after a certain age. Why did you guys decide to do that?
Juanita Storey [00:06:04] Yeah. Well I suppose in part because of our own background. We felt they could they would get a better education essentially. And I'd never gone to public school so I had no particular feeling that public schools were better. University School was an option that. In a sense they didn't they weren't the first black students but that wasn't an instance where University School was making more of an effort to become integrated. And I told you about Exeter, that's where my husband went. He had a natural desire. He had a wonderful experience. He wanted his children to go. And it was an all male school when he went. So Becky I think Becky was less enthusiastic about going to boarding school but we felt well we've done this for the boys we couldn't say to her, No you can't do it.
Bethany Hollowell [00:07:02] Where is Laurel located?.
Juanita Storey [00:07:08] Laurel's in Shaker Heights. Well, it's at [inaudible] and somewhere.
Bethany Hollowell [00:07:14] [inaudible] Did your kids ever have any issues at school where race played a factor?
Juanita Storey [00:07:30] Not that they ever articulated.
Bethany Hollowell [00:07:31] Really?
Juanita Storey [00:07:33] No. Quite the contrary. They. They felt. Very. Welcomed. Let me see now, let me think. The only the only instance that I could think of that possibly might have that was when our eldest who had gone to Canterbury. And then we moved and he went to Roxboro. And, somewhat immodestly, he's a very bright kid. He was, is, still a bright man. And when he. When we showed up the first day of school at Roxboro, he was assigned to a class. And because I was sort of went. In trying to find out what was going on at school just as I had, I discovered very early on that it was not the most challenging of the classes. And so I made a bit of a fuss and they transferred him but it's my feeling that they saw him and they decided well he's not going to be that good a student so we'll put him in the less challenging class. It turned out. When he went into the more challenging class he did very well. So that was not something he ever experienced firsthand but I thought that was probably the reason.
Bethany Hollowell [00:08:53] And did you take it up with the principal?
Juanita Storey [00:08:57] Yeah I just went into the principal and said look if you look at his records from Canterbury he's always done extremely well in all of the standardized tests, I'd like him to put in the other class. There was no problem, I understand. But if I had not perhaps been as vigilant he might have wound up in a different situation. And as I said, I don't think whoever did the assignments of the classes looked at his record because if they had they wouldn't have put him in a less challenging. They just looked at him exactly. Yeah.
Bethany Hollowell [00:09:29] That story about the lady, about the cat. Would you say that was the only instance you ever ran into where it was kind of right in your face that somebody was...
Juanita Storey [00:09:30] Yeah. Yeah. I would say. It may have been behind my back, but That was the only instance where it was very obvious. But I imagine that face.
Bethany Hollowell [00:09:57] And as far as, I assume you made friends with people who went to your church, was your church mostly a white or black church?
Juanita Storey [00:10:12] Well it was. After when we moved we moved right across the street from St. Paul. So we started going to St. Paul's. And by that time Emmanuel was a parish that. Back when Euclid Avenue was a very-- It was an old church it had an old parishioner group. And most of those people would die. And it was just shrinking. So it was not a very vibrant congregation. And it was a mixed congregation with blacks and whites but it was just simply shrinking. And. Since we moved right across the street from St. Paul's it didn't seem to make a lot of sense not to go there because it was an Episcopal Church.
Bethany Hollowell [00:11:02] Were you guys involved in the church?
Juanita Storey [00:11:03] I was on the vestry which is the sort of governing body for a while. So was my husband I did an after school program, a volunteer program there. Let's see, what else did we do? Yeah, that's about it.
Bethany Hollowell [00:11:15] And you had a lot of, I guess you probably created a lot of friends...
Juanita Storey [00:11:25] Yeah we had friends that were part of St. Paul's. Yeah. Sure. You know, that was, I wouldn't say it was our major social outlet but yeah we had friends.
Bethany Hollowell [00:11:35] What would you say was your major social outlet?
Juanita Storey [00:11:35] Some people that both of us knew from college were in Cleveland. You know, people that my husband worked with. Others. And. Church people. I belong to a couple of women's organizations. So they were friends through that. The Links for example on a is a black woman's organization.
Bethany Hollowell [00:12:08] What is it?
Juanita Storey [00:12:09] It's called the, it's called the Links. It's an organization a national organization of black women that voted to service. And. So I have had friends do that and they have, that was another outlet.
Bethany Hollowell [00:12:23] Where did you guys meet?
Juanita Storey [00:12:27] You mean the links? In people's homes. Or if you wanted to you would take it to a restaurant any place that had enough room. It wasn't a very large organization, maybe tops when I was involved about 25 people.
Bethany Hollowell [00:12:42] And were all the ladies from Cleveland Heights?
Juanita Storey [00:12:45] No. They were from all over Cleveland, mostly Shaker. And. As time went on and more and more black families moved east. A lot of people lived out further out, Pepper Pike, Moreland Hills.
Bethany Hollowell [00:12:57] So can you tell me a little bit about what you ladies did?
Juanita Storey [00:13:08] They had a tutoring program in the Cleveland schools. They gave scholarships. They did. They organized a black history course for their own children. My two went to that. Back when when. The effort to teach middle class for want of a better word black children about their own history and that was not being taught in the schools and I organized that. They gave benefits and gave money to various things.
Bethany Hollowell [00:13:45] The teaching of the African American history was kind of I guess you could say it stemmed from the civil rights movement. Can you tell me what you remember about the civil rights movement?
Juanita Storey [00:14:06] Well if you're talking about the bus boycott and Rosa Parks and all that I was still in college. [crosstalk] Yeah. I remember. Now. I think. As much as anything that was 50 years ago I remember most of the major events and and the changes that came about as a result.
Bethany Hollowell [00:14:29] Later on when you were in Clevleand Heights did you kind of see that Cleveland Heights was becoming a hot spot for this change called integration?
Juanita Storey [00:14:48] I don't know quite what you mean by hot spots certainly it was an area that that because I think of the fact that there were. Some very varied population in Cleveland Heights at that time and I think still is, I mean you have people who were at the university you had people with the orchestra and then you had people who were far more wealthy and far more old family Cleveland-type people. And then you had because it's a relatively large city you had people who were more sort of ordinary in terms of their occupation. So. I guess you could call it a great place to sort of play out some of the tensions in society because you had people who buy the, as I mentioned that university people people who are perhaps more inclined to support the changes that were coming about through the civil rights movement. Then you had people who were less inclined and well maybe digging in a little bit and I'm sure that's what made Cleveland Heights a bit of a struggle.
Bethany Hollowell [00:15:52] Did you recognize then when you moved to Coventry Road that more black people lived in the middle, there was more integration, and south Cleveland Heights is a more white area?
Juanita Storey [00:16:19] Did I recognize that at the time? Well, I don't think there were very many black people. When you say north what do you mean?
Bethany Hollowell [00:16:25] I guess that would be north of Mayfield.
Juanita Storey [00:16:36] Remember that's relatively recent. That wasn't the case when we moved here. They weren't. And that's where my daughter lives now. But. 40 years ago that there were no black people in what you now call north. I mean there just weren't. Those people moved out as. I mean it's sort of similar to what happened in East Cleveland. It just happened later. So I. Know when you say north south middle that to me if I as I reflect back. Then it had no meaning at all.
Bethany Hollowell [00:17:10] There was no north Cleveland Heights [inaudible]...
Juanita Storey [00:17:10] No. That's that's much much more recent actually because of course we're not here a lot. I wasn't even sure that... I'm interested to find out that that is a delineation. That's the case now even.
Bethany Hollowell [00:17:33] I don't know if it's in fact Mayfield Road. That was just kind of a guess spoken with a few others who have recognized that now there's a north, south middle kind of segregation between Cleveland Heights...
Juanita Storey [00:17:45] Well I'm sure that's an economic issue. As much as anything. I mean because the houses and what you would call South Cleveland Heights. You know many of them a million dollars or more. And. It's just economic as much as racial. And what you would call middle, I would imagine there's more integration there than there is. And then. If if North is because again people tend to tend to. There was a certain amount of white flight out of Cleveland Heights and I would assume it was more in that area.
Bethany Hollowell [00:18:39] Just kind of general question, what were some of your fondest memories? [inaudible] You lived there for 41 or 40 years?
Juanita Storey [00:18:40] We moved there in 1969, and we moved here, I would say 42 year, 42 43 somewhere in there. I have to go look at real estate right. But that was more than 40. Well it's 43 44 40... Somewhere around in there.
Bethany Hollowell [00:19:08] So then what would some of your fondest memories be of those 40 years?
Juanita Storey [00:19:14] Of living in Cleveland Heights? The people. Oh yes. I think Cleveland Heights is a wonderful community. You have people of all kinds You know again of the very very rich. And I'm sure that the very very rich that we came to know what people who were. Very much in favor of integration and were comfortable in the Cleveland Heights that developed over that 40 year period as opposed to the people who weren't happy and left. Our neighbors on East Scarborough. We still keep in touch with a couple of them. They're wonderful people. They were older than we so they. Unfortunately a couple of them were no longer with us but we've come over the time that was possible we kept in touch with them. And. Again Coventry is a little different in that it wasn't a neighborhood as such because of the kind of street it was but. We still see we don't see in terms of planning that we bump into people that live. In that area from time to time.
Bethany Hollowell [00:20:19] I think more towards where the stores are now, the residents over there created an organization called Coventry Neighbors.
Juanita Storey [00:20:32] Oh yes yes I remember that. That was. I don't remember when it was. But again it was not something that we ever did. And I don't know why we didn't. It wasn't a conscious decision not to. It may have been because we were older at that point. You know. And. That's something that you do. When you're in your 40s maybe 50s. By the time we left. We were well into our 60s. And. Again I think it's a stage of life issue more than an interest issue. We were perfectly supportive. But. I hate to use the word tired but.
Bethany Hollowell [00:21:16] It sort of applies I guess. So is there anything else that [inaudible] stories... [inaudible] the one about the cat...
Juanita Storey [00:21:33] Yeah. Let's see. [crosstalk] Now the story about the neighbors is east Scarborough, the story about the cat. I can honestly say that to my face and I don't know what people were saying. Those are the only instances in our 40 plus years in Cleveland Heights actually 45 if you count them. But. Where I felt any. Any. Antagonism or difficulty or. Anything. Really. I imagine we were lucky. I'm sure that would not be the case for everybody. And. You mentioned the bombing. They were obviously ugly people. We just were fortunate that we never bumped into any of them.
Bethany Hollowell [00:22:17] I think the simple fact that you had to go through Stuart Wallace. you had to go through an equal housing realtor. It's kind of shocking that you couldn't do it the way everybody else did.
Juanita Storey [00:22:33] You. Know I think we weren't we weren't so naive as to think that was going to be possible. We. We. We were. Savvy enough to know that if we wanted to move to Cleveland Heights again because of the schools. That we would. Need to go through with Stuart Wallace. Because they were those stories as you mentioned of the testing of you know roing to a normal realtor and saying well I'm interested in such and such and such and being told no it's not available.
Bethany Hollowell [00:23:04] So you guys kind of just avoided that whole [inaudible]
Juanita Storey [00:23:05] Just. Yeah I guess. But I'm not sure we avoided it consciously as I said we knew Stuart from. A church group that was discussing integration. Generally and we knew that he was a realtor so it wasn't as though we want you we thought about it we'd better not go to a realtor we should go to Stuart. We just naturally went to him because we knew what we knew him personally we knew that was the stated. Goal of of this agency.
Bethany Hollowell [00:23:49] Can you tell me about those church discussions a little bit?
Juanita Storey [00:23:49] Oh well they were just. I guess there was a notice maybe in the bulletin because this was an issue at the time or people who were who. Wanted to talk about integration and. I guess Stuart must have been invited because he didn't go to our church. But. It was again it was a. Creature of the times and it was just. We met in living rooms. And maybe went on for. A year. And then people either moved away or got involved in other things and it kind of petered out. No no. Animosities or difficulties we just kind of stopped meeting.
Bethany Hollowell [00:24:37] And it was an integrated group I assume.
Juanita Storey [00:24:39] Oh yeah. Oh. Yeah.
Bethany Hollowell [00:24:41] And what were the how would you describe the people...
Juanita Storey [00:24:53] They were just people of. Good faith and people who were. Who felt that that rigid segregation was wrong and that there should be ways to move away from that. That would did not involve violence. I think that was part of the whole you know kind of peaceful integration issue. And they were just people of good faith. How I would describe them. They were in various occupations. One was a lawyer. One was. Man. One was a doctor.
Bethany Hollowell [00:25:26] Just people of good faith. [inaudible] compainies were invested [inaudible] realtors were promoting equal housing.
Juanita Storey [00:25:47] This was much later. Much much later.
Bethany Hollowell [00:26:04] And just because they knew that a few years from now they would look like idiots if they had that reputation that they didn't support something in good faith [inaudible]
Juanita Storey [00:26:06] They would lose money.
Bethany Hollowell [00:26:07] So lastly I would just ask if you can share anything else you feel that's important to your life story?
Juanita Storey [00:26:20] Well I. I just would say that I had. A wonderful experience living in Cleveland Heights. I was proud of the fact that relatively speaking integration has proceeded so. Smoothly with the blips. That happened. But those were a long time ago. I am a little distressed at hearing the economic. Stratification that you mentioned but. I guess that's part of life. That's not going to change and that's not necessarily just. Limited to Cleveland Heights. People tend to move where they feel they can afford to move. My sense is that even in the south part of. Cleveland Heights you mentioned that today a black person would have no problem buying a house in fact we know people who live in that area. As long as it is the. That aspect of buying in Cleveland Heights is pretty much ended. But the economic stratification is intensified. That would be my observation.
Bethany Hollowell [00:27:33] I. See. [inaudible]
Juanita Storey [00:27:36] Yeah. Oh.
Bethany Hollowell [00:27:37] [inaudible] now you've lived here for how many years?
Juanita Storey [00:27:49] You mean this this unit? Twelve.
Bethany Hollowell [00:27:51] And did all of that stuff that's right up there. Starbuck's. Fairmount.
Juanita Storey [00:27:57] Well that's shops have changed. That was. It was pretty much there though. I mean every so often something moves out. It's pretty much the same feeling as now. Yeah.
Bethany Hollowell [00:28:10] I was gonna say because that look is very...
Juanita Storey [00:28:11] Yeah. Yeah. And I think the owners of that building made an effort to keep the same kind of second story and there's a Cedar Fairmount association that very much invested in keeping this particular little place the same. There was a. Place called Micks that had become a kind of. Unfortunate nightclub that. The. Cedar Fairmount association was very active in getting the Cleveland Heights Police and so forth closed. So there has definitely been an effort. To keep it the same.
Bethany Hollowell [00:28:47] Well we have come up on an hour so I guess we will conclude...
Juanita Storey [00:28:58] OK. Well thank you for your questions and having making me remember things that I had submerged. Not consciously submerged just over the years forgotten.
Bethany Hollowell [00:29:10] When people ask it brings back thoughts...
Juanita Storey [00:29:14] Yeah. Yes exactly.
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