Out of the Shadows: Informal Segregation in Warren, Ohio, 1954-1964

By: Kenneth J. Bindas & Molly Merryman

Former educator and long-time Warren-area resident Cliff Johnson looked relaxed and comfortable sitting for his interview. When asked what he remembered best about the 1950s and early 1960s in the small northeast Ohio city of Warren, he talked about the separateness that permeated his world and his discomfort with this invisibility: “I personally would rather have someone call me a bunch of dirty names and at least acknowledge me as a person than to act as if I wasn’t even there.” Being invisible for Johnson was “probably the worst thing to ever do to a human being.”[1. Clifford Johnson, interviewed by Laurie Dangerfield, October 2002, Documenting Justice DVD, produced by Molly Merryman and Kenneth J. Bindas, 2002. Hereafter DJ. These interviews were part of a community history project discussed in the text and involved the digital video interviewing of 14 people.]

Historians studying the United States after 1945 have begun to investigate the
effect and pervasiveness of the Civil Rights movement on a local, less visible level.
How did ordinary Americans, particularly outside the South, act and react to the social and legal revolutions that swept the country through 1965? The people from Warren, Ohio, offer an interesting case study through which we can begin to provide insight into the complexities of this question. Continue reading Out of the Shadows: Informal Segregation in Warren, Ohio, 1954-1964