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John J. Grabowski, Editor
In celebration of the Cleveland area's rich ethnic heritage, Voices of Diversity focuses on firsthand accounts of the ethnic experience in northeast Ohio. Through personal narratives, translations or reprints of previously published accounts, and hard-to-find histories of regional immigrant communities, the stories and experiences of the people who make up this diverse community are told, adding to our understanding of the history of the region.


and | Filed under: Regional Interest, Voices of Diversity

Since the early nineteenth century, Cleveland and the surrounding region have benefited from the emigration of European Jewry. A unique anthology of essays, short stories, and poems, A Cleveland Jewish Reader gathers for the first time rare and previously inaccessible writings about the Jewish experience in Northeast Ohio. Dating from the late 1800s to the 1980s, this collection is organized along five major themes—arts and culture, civic life, work and business, continuity, and philanthropy and service. The editors present a variety of voices that discuss the Jewish cultural gardens, Yiddish theater, socialism in the working class and women’s role in the Garment Strike, the cigar industry and Jewish farming, the Alsbacher Document, philanthropic efforts by the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland, and many other topics.


An Integrated Boyhood

| Filed under: Autobiography & Memoirs, Discover Black History, Voices of Diversity

In An Integrated Boyhood, Richards candidly describes how this exemplary middle-class Cleveland sojourn left him hopelessly confused and dislocated at the very moment of his parents’ triumph. His narrative of success provides the background to a more private turmoil: Richards’s struggle to read the shifting meanings of his privileged experience amid the city’s shifting racial lines, the fringe on the Left, the tumult of rising black consciousness, and the fears of nervous white suburban neighbors. This coming-of-age story sings the undersong of an older generation’s hard-won success. Like all black Clevelanders, Richards was forced to struggle for his understanding of the city’s—and his own—endless racial confusion in the midst of frightening historical change. It is this reality that recurs throughout Richards’s memoir: the early encounters of a scared, bookish African American boy from Mt. Pleasant with what can only be described as the real world.


You Can’t Be Mexican

| Filed under: Regional Interest, Voices of Diversity
Mendez Book Cover

Frank Mendez, a child of Mexican immigrants begins his memoir with the story of his father’s harrowing migration from Mexico to Texas in 1920 as he escaped from Zapata’s guerrrillos and continues with his story of growing up in northeast Ohio. He recounts the Mendez family’s experience with the Depression, living in the Lorain, Ohio barrio, labor issues, racism, and World War II. Mendez dropped out of high school in 1943 and enlisted in the Marine Corps where he served twenty-two months in the Pacific theatre. When he returned to Lorain, he received his high school diploma, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and a professional engineering license.


My Father Spoke Finglish at Work

| Filed under: Regional Interest, Voices of Diversity
Fairburn Book Cover

The Finnish American Heritage Association of Ashtabula County was organized in 1995, and one of its first projects was the interviewing and taping of elderly Finnish Americans to obtain historical accounts of early immigrants. These first-person accounts were written as the narrator told them. Many of the first- and second-generation Finns were in their eighties or nineties at the time of their interviews, yet their recollections of times gone by were told with frankness and clarity. Photographs representative of these early years are also included in this volume.