By Laura Meckler, The Washington Post, October 11, 2019
It’s an article of faith in this Cleveland suburb: If any place can navigate the complex issues of race in America, it’s Shaker Heights. Sixty years ago, black and white families came together to create and maintain integrated neighborhoods. The school district began voluntary busing in 1970, and boundary lines were drawn to make schools more integrated. Student groups dedicated themselves to black achievement, race relations and cross-racial friendship.
So why, last November, was 16-year-old Olivia McDowell on the stage of Shaker Heights High School, begging the packed auditorium to understand how hard it is to be one of the few black kids in Advanced Placement English?
“I need answers,” Olivia said after escaping her seat, jumping onstage and taking the microphone out of the principal’s hand. She had ignored her mom’s admonition to keep quiet and, unable to suppress her rising anger, outed herself as the student at the center of a swirling controversy.