English 102 9/23/13 Richard Gunn: A Servant Heart Richard Gunn was a man that grew up in Kansas City, Kansas but after passing the BAR exam moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1948 to practice law as an attorney, there he became well ingrained in the Cleveland community and saw the Negros around the area go up and down with the Jobs and positions that were being held by these people. It was a trying time for these people as they were trying to get their civil rights more established in American society and not Just words on a paper.
Gunn wanted to help these people that could not fend for themselves and through that he ecame involved in the educational change in the Cleveland school district trying to get Negro teachers to be allowed to teach at private schools, get young negro students into private schools, that quality education not Just be given to the white people, and then getting into the business world of Negros starting their own companies.
Richard Gunn was a driven man that fostered changes in how the school system works in Cleveland and along with helping Negro business owners succeed; he did this through his work with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Congress of Racial Equality. With that being said, Dunn gave up his Job as an attorney to help the civil right movement in Cleveland. He had a passion for education and was set on making all education equal for everyone and not Just the privileged. The way that he helped do this was by helping several different movements in particular the United Freedom Movement.
This was an organization that’s goal was to “examine the areas of education, housing, employment, health and welfare, and voting and political participation, as they related to blacks in Cleveland. ” (Encyclopedia of Cleveland History) This group was ey in the Freedom March on 14 July 1963 and its success. That march drew of 20,000 people to Cleveland Stadium. Not everything was so peaceful during these marches and changes that the I-JFM was trying to do. People were accidently killed during a protest in 1964. So this was not always a peaceful operation and with that they had to have strong leadership to keep everyone under control.
That is where Gunn and the members of the council came in and where able to work things out for everyone to be safe and create positive change. Another way that they were able to do this was with boycott that took place in Cleveland as well and it was much more peaceful than the previous one. According to Gunn, “In Cleveland, Ohio, between 92 and 95 percent of all Negroes in the city of Cleveland stayed out of school that day – about 65,000 children. ” This turned out to be a good thing for the movement and started to call for change.
One of those positive changes was getting African-American schoolteachers to be able to teach in private schools. Gunn also was the president of the Cleveland chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. This is an organization that has a lot of istory and national pedigree even during the Civil Rights Movement. Its mission in to Ensure the rights and privileges of all people and break the color barrier. “The NAACP – a history of effecting change” by New Pittsburgh Courier give a historical background of the NAACP for every decade that it has been around.
The NAACP was a major factor in helping colored people gets more rights and privilege as the history says. Through this organization and with the help of the citizens of Cleveland Gunn worked tirelessly to see that schools in the district were giving the same care to the Negro population as the white people. Gunn does discuss about how Cleveland does give some of the best education to its children because “… they announced the winners of the National Merit Scholarship Examinations, and these examinations are given all over the country, and in greater Cleveland we had several scholarship winners.
In the city of Cleveland, which has over 150,000 children in the school system, which is more than double the next largest community in this county, there was only one child to win a scholarship in Cleveland. Whether it’s important not, the one child was a Negro girl. Not one white child in Cleveland won a scholarship. “(Gunn 10) This was a big deal to him and it was a big deal because it did show that segregation was beginning to dissipate and that Cleveland had a good education system that was working.
There was still something that Gunn thought needed to be changed in the education system. The work that Gunn really was passionate about was getting the private schools to open up to colored students and teachers. He strived to make this happen by starting with Cleveland board of education and getting it integrated with colored people. This way there would be ore points of view and the chance to change the way the school system was at the time. In the article “Cleveland School Board, a Taste of the Old, New. By Kathy Coleman This article talks about how today in Cleveland, Ohio the board of education has several members that are of African-American background and it says that it has changed through out the years to look like it is today. This is evidence for the work that Gunn did for the people of Cleveland is an article about how the Board of Education in Cleveland has changed to majority black members and also how it has not changed anything. This source provides me with the evidence that Richard Gunn’s efforts to integrate African-Americans into the school system were a success.
This however did not change the fact “there are more Negro children in the city of Cleveland than there are white children in the school system. “(Gunn 13) This made it harder to create integration that Gunn wanted to happen. Gunn turned to the national media and wanted to get national attention on the happenings in Cleveland. The problem was that the newspapers would not print what they gave to them in statements so this made it very hard for Gunn to get any recognition for what was appening in Cleveland.
One of the other hard things for Gunn to deal with was the fact of Negros that were disassociating with being a Negro and conforming to the white way of life. These people were the ones that had the good Jobs and lived in nice neighborhoods. They were enjoying “… the privileges of first class citizenship, they feel, that they cannot readily identify with the Negro cause per se. “(Gunn #2 Pg. 1) and a lot of the Negro community felt like they had abandoned them and did not care for them.
This is an interesting topic because Gunn was an attorney and made is fair share, he could have easily conformed to the privileged lifestyle and not cared but he didn’t. The men, in particular that were still connected to the Negro community but were trying to live the privileged lifestyle were shy to say that they were having meetings about Civil Rights and instead played it off as “that these were just a bunch of Uncle Toms being called to this meeting, they did not know – for instance, many people I talked to that I had been invited, and that several other fellows who had been active in the civil rights movement had been invited. (Gunn #2 Pg. 2) Gunn felt betrayed almost by these men because they needed to be the leaders and if they could not stand up for what they said the wanted then nothing would get done. Although Gunn does see some hope for the future in that the middle class Negros has assumed a lot of the leadership and this has helped the movement carry on. The one concern for Gunn was that the “younger fellows” were going to have to step up as well and be an example.
They are going to have to be the ones taking the risk of being criticized so that others can stand with them. Finally, the Civil Rights ovement was not one that was peaceful at all times as we have discussed and Richard Gunn has talked about but it was a necessary act to be done. It made our nation stronger and better through it. Gunn bring up a good point with this statement, “… ou wonder what do you have to do in this country to be accorded full citizenship rights when the Constitution is existent, the Bill of Rights is existent, when we profess to be a democracy, when we profess to be basically a Christian nation. What do you have to do to shock the consciences of the people in this country in rder that they will treat me as a human being, in order that they will give me all the rights that anyone else is entitled to? and he is so right when he talks about that and our country. Our country needed a wake up call to catch up to the rest of the world and it succeeded in doing it. Yet this movement would not have happened without the dedication, passion, and hard work of Richard Gunn and men like him to change the education system to foster integration, along with changing the quality of education that the children of Cleveland received. Men like Gunn are hard to come by but when they do they need to be recognized.