Getting down to the roots of Cleveland’s first African-American “surrogate suburbs”


In the first half of the 20th Century, many Clevelanders started moving out of the city’s increasingly crowded urban core in favor of more spacious, suburban lifestyles. While a relatively easy feat for most upwardly mobile white Americans, African Americans had more of a challenge—facing discrimination, deed restrictions prohibiting them from buying land in certain suburbs, and downright racism.

But a group of African-American pioneers defied the challenges and obstacles as early as the 1930s and, by the 1950s, had established roots on Cleveland’s southeast side in the Mount Pleasant, Lee-Harvard, and Lee-Seville (Miles Heights) neighborhoods.

Todd Michney, author of Surrogate Suburbs: Black Upward Mobility and Neighborhood Change in Cleveland, 1900-1980, stresses that…

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