The 50th Anniversary Celebration program of the Lomond Association on Friday evening April 24th, 2015 reviewed the history of the Association over the past fifty years. The Association was born in the tumult of the early 1960s, when the Civil Rights movement had gained momentum under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Reverend Joan Brown Campbell, the celebration’s keynote and first speaker, personally knew Martin Luther King and told the story of his visit to Lomond in July of 1965 when she was a young Mother of three. (She became an ordained minister at age fifty.) MLK had mentioned to her that although he had spoken in many black churches in Cleveland, he had never been invited to speak in a suburban church with a white congregation. JBC confidently invited him to speak at her church, Heights Christian Church on Van Aken at Avalon in Lomond. To her surprise, this proposal was not welcomed by all members of the Congregation, some of whom, in order to sabotage MLK’s appearance, chose that moment to renovate the sanctuary. Undaunted by not having the use of the sanctuary, Dr. King spoke from the front steps of the Church to a crowd of thousands, a gathering much too large for the interior of the Church. A video of this event is included in a collage of excerpts of MLK speaking in Cleveland. (Video Vault MLK link Cleveland.) In the video one can see the supporters and opponents assembled in the audience and one can sense the emotional intensity of that historical era.
After Rev. Campbell, Dr. Ware Petznick, the Director of the Shaker Historical Society, explained to the gathering how restrictive covenants became part of Shaker Heights’ homeowners’ deeds. Originally the Van Sweringen Co. deeds for homes in Shaker Heights only dealt with architectural and landscaping issues. However, in 1925 when two respectable, professional African American families bought homes in Shaker Heights, these families encountered violent opposition. [In one instance, the police, called for protection, checked the family and its visitors as they came and went. Eventually the family moved.] At this time a group called “The Shaker Protective Association” formed. It persuaded the Van Sweringen Co. to ask homeowners to amend their deeds to require them in cases of impending sales to prospective buyers, to obtain the written consent of neighboring homeowners before closing on a sale. Thus, during the 1920s homeowning in Shaker Heights began to explicitly reflect the prejudices of the times. Restrictive covenants remained in effect in Shaker Heights through the 30s, 40s and into the 50s.
As African Americans began to buy homes in the Lomond neighborhood in the early 60s, some Lomond residents began to meet to discuss what they could do to prevent “white flight” which resulted from real estate agents’ “block busting” tactics. The third speaker, Irwin Feldman, an early President of the Association (1967-1969), explained that the Association founders wished to promote and maintain the peaceful integration of the Lomond neighborhood. A journal article, “Impact of a Community Association on Integrated Suburban Housing Patterns,” by Stephen J. Alfred and Charles R. Marcoux in the Cleveland State Law Review of 1970, http://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol19/iss1/12) outlines what the Association did to fulfill its objectives. When the Lomond Association became incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1965, its mission statement included the following objectives: “eliminate prejudice and discrimination in the Lomond School Area of the City of Shaker Heights, Ohio, and in surrounding areas; defend human and civil rights as provided by law in said Area; combat and prevent community deterioration and juvenile delinquency in said Area; lessen community tensions….; present public discussions, forums, panels, lectures or published materials for the education of persons residing in such Area and in the Greater Cleveland area with respect to the above matters; conduct such other charitable and educational programs as are exclusively for charitable and educational purposes in the public interest.”
Mr. Feldman explained that the early Association persuaded the City Council of Shaker Heights to ban the use of “For Sale” signs from the City. Convinced that balanced integration was a desirable goal, the Association tracked the neighborhood’s racial demographics. A $50,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation supported a housing coordinator and a rental coordinator. The Lomond Association with the Ludlow, Moreland, and Sussex Community Associations formulated a pro-integrative housing plan which the City of Shaker Heights’ Council accepted. City Council established the Shaker Communities Housing Office in 1967. The Lomond Association founded and helped finance “Suburban Citizens for Open Housing” to assist black families seeking homes in the eastern suburbs.
In 2006 and 2007 the neighborhood came together once more to discuss the mission of the Association. Professor Brian Yusko, a recent Lomond Association President (2007-2009), told how in a series of three workshops led by Emma Melton, a Social Worker trained in conducting community workshops at the Mandel Center at CWRU, a large gathering of Lomond residents formulated its “vision” of the Lomond Association for 2012. Residents brought renewed energy and enthusiasm to the work of the Association. A group wrote a new Code of Regulations based on the original charter and workshop discussions. Once again neighbors peacefully came together to endorse the organization’s original objectives which were broadly stated in “Vision 2012.” To Dr. Yusko the Lomond Association is important because it brings people together to know each other and to work for the betterment of the neighborhood. “People Peaced Together” has been and continues to be the Lomond Association’s motto.
Mayor Earl Leiken concluded the Golden Anniversary Celebration by presenting the Association with Proclamations from the City of Shaker Heights. The Proclamation honors the work the Lomond Association has done and continues to do for the benefit of this community.
MotoPhoto generously volunteered to film the Lomond Association’s 50th Anniversary 2015 Celebration event. DVDs are available for $20 each from MotoPhoto at 20116 Chagrin Blvd. in Shaker Heights. They can be ordered online at ProEventPhoto.com, or by telephone at 218-751-6686 x105 or 866-751-6686. A DVD of the event in the Shaker Heights Room at the Shaker Heights Main Library is available for circulation.