This photograph shows Jill Levy, Lee Owen, and Sandra Driggins of Ludlow Elementary School in Shaker Heights, Ohio, shaking hands in front of a sign for Brotherhood Week in 1956.
Busing of schoolchildren for the purpose of achieving racial integration was used by several Ohio school systems in the late twentieth century.
In 1954, the United States Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional. Civil Rights organizations began to move school districts across the South to desegregate and allow African-American students to attend historically white schools.
Segregation of schools also existed in the North. Black students often attended predominantly African-American schools, while white students attended overwhelmingly white schools. During the 1960s and 1970s, several Civil Rights groups brought legal action to desegregate Northern schools.
During this period, the school boards in Columbus, Cleveland and many other Ohio cities faced lawsuits. In all of these cases, federal judges ruled that the school districts presided over segregated school systems. Under court order, both districts implemented busing to desegregate their schools. The school systems transported some white students to traditionally African-American schools and sent some black students to historically white schools. In the case of Columbus, approximately one-third of Columbus Public School students rode buses to school when the program was fully implemented.
These court rulings and the busing programs that often followed from them were controversial. Many parents objected to busing students many miles from their homes when other schools existed nearby.
As late as 1986, federal courts were still involved in ending segregation in Ohio's schools. This was especially true in Cleveland. Typical of whites in other cities, many Cleveland whites had moved to the suburbs and left African Americans and ethnic whites in the city itself. Many ethnic whites preferred their own neighborhood schools, where the teachers could educate the students in their traditional customs. By the mid 1980s, with the use of busing and other methods, most school districts were desegregated.
At the start of the twenty-first century, segregation of schools has again become a major issue in Ohio. One important reason for this has been the cutting of busing by many school districts to offset budget shortfalls. With many neighborhoods still not integrated, the result of limited busing has been de facto segregation.