The African-American experience in columbus blog
This blog features brief articles on the African-Experience in Columbus from the Underground Railroad to the civil rights era.
By Matt Doran
On March 8, 1977 U.S. Circuit Court Judge Robert Duncan issued his ruling in the case of Penick v. Columbus Board of Education. Duncan ruled that the Columbus Board of Education had deliberately kept white and African-American students separate by creating school boundaries that sent African-American students to predominantly African-American schools and white students to predominantly white schools.
As evidence, Duncan cited policy as far back as 1909 when Champion Avenue School was established as a school for African-American students. There they were taught by African-American teachers (including four that been transferred from predominately white schools). White students from the same neighborhoods attended different schools.
Following Duncan’s ruling, the Columbus Board of Education developed a plan to desegregate the district. Some white students were bused to traditionally African-American schools, and some African-American students were bused to predominantly white schools.
Judge Duncan was a Columbus resident who lived in the Berwick neighborhood on the Near East Side. The desegregation plan required Duncan’s daughter to be bused to Olde Orchard Elementary on the Far East Side. On the day the buses rolled, two white supremacists called in a bomb threat to the school. Gregory S. Jacobs was a third-grader at Olde Orchard that day and a schoolmate of the judge’s daughter. In 1998, Jacobs wrote the book, Getting Around Brown: Desegregation, Development, and the Columbus Public Schools, a comprehensive account of school desegregation in Columbus.
Click here to view the Teaching Columbus resources on desegregation, including newspaper articles and a panel discussion.