By: Thomas Powell, State University of New York, Emeritus
In January of 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case in which the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, a builder of low-income housing, sued the city of Cuyahoga Falls for delaying construction of a housing project-an action they claimed was motivated in part by issues of discrimination. Although three months later the court overturned a lower court ruling and found in favor of the city,[1. City of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio et al. v. Buckeye Community Hope Foundation et al. No. 01-1269. A copy of the decision can be found through the FindLaw website at http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=000&invol=01-1269. Briefs for the case are at http://supreme.lp.findlaw.com/supreme_court/docket/2002/january.html#01-1269.] the case illustrates the continuation of long-standing divisions concerning race and residence in this Northeast Ohio Community.
Nearly forty years before the recent Supreme Court decision, Cuyahoga Falls was the focus of another lawsuit over discrimination and housing: Mercer Brancher et al. v. The Akron Area Board of Realtors et al., also known as “The Akron Fair Housing Case.” Thomas Powell, a former University of Akron professor and resident of Cuyahoga Falls at the time, here presents a first-hand account of his family’s role in the development of this case. Powell has chosen to write his account in the first person, present tense in order to impart the sense of “bite” and immediacy he felt as an eyewitness to these events. Given recent events, his stylistic choice seems particularly appropriate-even after forty years, some of the basic issues he discusses still have currency today.