Hillsboro witnesses discuss Ohio school segregation with Dr. Charles F. Casey-Leininger’s students
Date: 9/11/2017 12:00:00 PM
By: Jonathan Goolsby
Contact: Julie Campbell-Holmes
Phone: (513) 509-1114
CINCINNATI, Oh. — Like any good historian, UC professor Dr. Charles “Fritz” Casey-Leininger knows that gathering primary witnesses’ accounts is critical to understanding past events.
“When you bring people who were on the front lines into the class, it brings it home,” he said.
Last semester, Casey-Leininger facilitated a panel on racism and civil rights, focusing on an oft-forgotten fight against school segregation: the case of Hillsboro’s “Marching Mothers.”
An insidious, Northern version of Jim Crow.
Classroom discussions of pre-Civil Rights Era segregation often focus on injustices endemic to the traditional South. It surprises some students today to learn that segregation was also common throughout the North.
Whereas Jim Crow laws made segregation de jure in the post-Reconstruction South, “in the North, it was almost always de facto,” Casey-Leininger explained. “There’s this really strong connection between school segregation and residential segregation.”
Northern communities often built separate schools in black and white neighborhoods, then limited enrollments to just those students living in the immediate vicinity of each. Hillsboro, Ohio — the Highland County seat — did just so.
After the turn of the century, the town stood divided along strict racial lines. Black families were concentrated into two enclaves: one on the east side and another in the northeast corner of town.