Glenville, Ohio, is a neighborhood area of Cleveland, northeast of downtown. Historically, this neighborhood has been home to various minority groups, predominantly Jews and African Americans.
The region that now comprises Glenville was settled by Anglo-Americans in the late 1700s. Initially, most residents earned their living by farming, constructing Cleveland's various buildings, or working on the Ohio and Erie Canal crews. As Cleveland emerged as a major industrial center following the American Civil War (1861-1865), many of Glenville's residents found employment in Cleveland's factories.
Following World War I (1914-1918), Cleveland's Jewish population began to move into Glenville. By 1930, more than fifty percent of Cleveland's Jews lived in this neighborhood. Many of these new residents established family-owned businesses, while others found employment in Cleveland’s other industries. During and following World War II (1939-1945), Glenville's Jewish population began to move elsewhere. Throughout World War II, thousands of African Americans moved to Cleveland seeking work in the city’s various defense plants. Many Cleveland suburbs implemented restrictions that prohibited African Americans from residing in these communities. Glenville had no such restrictions, and the neighborhood's African American population soared. In 1930, only eight percent of Glenville's population was African American, but by 1950, African Americans comprised ninety percent of the population. By 1953, no Jewish children were enrolled in Glenville High School. During the 1930s, ninety percent of the school's students were Jewish.
During the Second Great Migration, a mass migration of African Americans from the Deep South to northern states, many African Americans came to Cleveland with hopes of making a better life. However, African Americans were met by racial segregation and housing laws which prevented them from finding well-paying jobs and housing in the city, with the exception of its northeastern neighborhoods, among them Glenville. Other factors, such as African American children being forced to attend white schools where they were not eligible to participate in extra-curricular programs such as arts and athletics, outraged the African American community and civil rights activists and members of the Black Power movement grew considerably in Cleveland in the mid-1960s. Many African Americans rejected Martin Luther King’s model of resistance through peaceful protest and instead engaged in more militant, anti-white establishment tactics. These sentiments heightened after King’s assassination in April 1968, and African Americans’ demand and fight for equality continued.
African American Ohioans played an important role in fighting for equality and many racially-charged demonstrations occurred in Ohio cities, including some violent ones. The Hough Civil Disorders of 1966 and the Glenville Shootout both took place in Cleveland. During what became known as the "Glenville shootout," when Cleveland police and an African American militant group led by Fred “Ahmed” Evans engaged in gunfire on July 23, 1968. Evans was a former Korean War veteran who became a prominent figure in Cleveland’s African American community and leader of a local Black Power militant group. Three police officers, three of Evans’ followers, and a civilian were killed, in addition to 63 businesses damaged by the ensuing looting and arson, a totaling loss of $2.6 billion
Since the 1960s, city officials have attempted to improve the economic situation of Glenville residents. The neighborhood's residents continue to be predominantly African American.
- Van Tassel, David D., and John J. Grabowski, eds. The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.