The Van Sweringens' Vision and the Shaker Heights Protective Association
In 1905, two brothers, Oris and Mantis Van Sweringen, began to plan out Shaker Heights, an inner suburb of Cleveland. They wanted Shaker to be an exclusive, white neighborhood that prevented racial minorities from living there. The citizens of the community believed in these ideals, and when diversity threatened, they felt it was their responsibility to keep Shaker homogeneous. In order to do so, they formed an organization, the Shaker Heights Protective Association, to keep out minorities.
"[There is an] ever-present menace to every resident of Shaker Village and throughout Cleveland…. Unless a street is 100% signed up for restrictions, … the danger of an undesirable neighbor is an ever-present one." -The Shaker Heights Protective Association
Beginning in 1925, when the first blacks began to move into Shaker, the Van Sweringens required the inclusion of restrictive covenants in property deeds. These covenants gave them the ability to exclude "undesirable neighbors," a phrase which referred to blacks, from moving into the property. The Shaker Heights Protective Association forced Shaker residents to sign restrictive covenants if they had not already signed the Van Sweringen imposed covenants.
De Facto and De Jure Segregation
"The practice of segregating people by race and gender has taken two forms. De jure segregation is separation enforced by law, while de facto segregation occurs when widespread individual preferences, sometimes backed up with private pressure, lead to separation. De jure racial segregation was a practice designed to perpetuate racial subordination; de facto segregation of African Americans had similar effects, but sometimes could be defended as a result simply of private choice, itself an important American value."
- "Dictionary of American History"
Shaker Heights originally faced de jure segregation enforced by Van Sweringen restrictive covenants, but after they were outlawed, segregation continued. De facto segregation was later used by white neighbors when they banded together to keep blacks out of Shaker.