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Cleveland Connection

In 1963, there was a landmark case in Cleveland, Ohio, "Reed v Rhodes", a case that helped shaped the desegregaton of Cleveland City schools. Many protestors staged a sit-in at Cleveland City Hall in protest of the segregated schools in the city. Black students went to all Black schools and the same could be said for White students. The NAACP along with other groups met with Cleveland City Council and the Board of Education to end school segregation which was done by busing Black students to other schools as a way to end segregation. But segregation in the schools did not end. The students that were bused were placed in segregated classrooms and Black students in many cases were not allowed to participate in after school sports. The groups fighting against segregation filed law suits and made pleas to the city to no avail. Upon seeing the success of sit-in's in the South, the United Freedom Movement3 announced plans to protest Cleveland City Hall and the Cleveland Municipal School Building by sit-in. After many law suits, petitions, and compromises, Cleveland City schools were finally desegregated in 1976. 

3. Patterson, James T. Brown v. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and Its Troubled Legacy. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Sit-in protests were a wildly successful tool in changing political policies in every state. These protests were used to draw attention to what was deemed bad policy for American citizens. These type of protests were not regulated to just the South, but anywhere African American's and other minorities were not treated fairly, the use of sit-in's brought attention to what was deemed unjust and eventually changes were made to those policies. Even though laws were changed, it still takes a long while to change people's hearts and minds. It is very difficult for people to change their way of thinking when what they have known for all their lives is actually hurting other members of society. Sit-in's are designed to be disruptive, albeit peacefully. The sit-in's in Cleveland were peacefully disruptive and the people who protested achieved their goal. Sit-in's are not easy as some protests continued for weeks, but when the goal is met, then the protests are well worth it.