In this 2006 interview, Bennie Jean Johnson, a life-long resident of Cleveland, recounts many of her living experiences as an African-American in Cleveland. She talks about her early childhood homes in E.55th and E.79th Street neighborhoods during the 1950 and 1960 decades. She describes her experiences during the Hough Riots. She talks about Leo's Casino and other well-known Cleveland east side institutions. She also talks about her experiences in moving to the west side of Cleveland--first to public housing near the Airport in the 1970s, and then to West 83rd Street in the 1980s, where she and her children were subjected to episodes of violent racism by neighborhood youths. Finally, she talks about her work as a Block Watch volunteer with the Detroit-Shoreway Association.
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Interviews in this series were conducted by students and researchers in the History Department at Cleveland State University in partnership with Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO). Interviews took place at Gordon Square Arcade and in other venues in the neighborhood. Select oral histories were accessible for several years in listening stations in the Gypsy Beans coffee house at Detroit Avenue and West 65th Street.