Cleveland Citizen Echoes Online (E letters)

           “History Through Commentary”

                        2001 to 2014

                         A Special Entry    

February 20, 2018

A Memo to Citizens of Cleveland, 

"Dr. Frederick D. Holliday - In  His Words”


Fellow citizens,

For many years when time drew near to Black History Month, two men stood out in my mind as leaders who strived to practice the ideals in democracy. They were Dr. Frederick D. Holliday, superintendent of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, and Dr. Edward Young, school board member at the time (the title Dr. came after). Both deserve to be included among the most honored in local history. In a future letter, I will center attention on the many reasons Dr. Young should be included.

In 1975 Dr. Holliday presented a speech to leaders of the Crispus Attucks Community Center in Lancaster, PA. The speech was framed and hangs on a wall at Crispus Attucks. At the time of his presentation, he was serving as Superintendent of York City School District. In a 2016 York Daily Record article, they showcased his address during Black History Month and in part called the it a “memorable speech.”

He paints a picture of the human condition, and all the pitfalls along the way that can smear the canvas of life if not cautious. How far have we come in rectifying the human condition? Best lift alone for readers to ponder. But reminders are always needed. Striving to be the best, is to look back in anger at self.  

The speech...

"During the last decade, liberals, Black and white, have created the thought that all blacks are nailed to the cross because of past injustices heaped upon them by the United States.

"Perhaps, a more correct view is that not all blacks are nailed to the cross, but there are some Negroes under it, unaware of its meaning, blissfully shooting craps for the robe. So says the February, 1975, Harvard Educational Review.

"Therefore, a more realistic approach for this day and age is to assume that there are differences among blacks; and, we can’t be all things to all people. So, in formulating the mission statement or statement of purpose for Crispus Attucks, these distinctions should be made. Consequently, behaviors of some people must be analyzed.

"Oppressed people throughout the world exhibit signs of sickness. In addition to the ravages of malnutrition, which is debilitating, psychological illnesses of the mind are devastating too.

"Self-hatred and poor self-concept are the principal psychological maladies. These disorders cause blacks, Puerto Ricans, Africans and even oppressed whites such as Jews and Poles to do some weird things to themselves.

"In fact, some of the acts we have all witnessed will support the fact that our sickness of mind, due to oppression, borders upon reckless abandon or suicidal behavior.

"For example, frolics by Black students in Penn Common which invite the attention of local and state police with the National Guard and federal troops standing by, is one example of suicidal behavior.

"Socially, having unwanted babies with no notion of how they are to be fed, educated, loved and developed into productive, socially-adjusted adults, is suicidal.

"Snatching a helpless woman’s pocketbook for a few pennies, inviting an officer’s bullet, is suicidal.

"Refusing to trade with a Black merchant and bragging that you won’t buy because you can’t trust a Negro is self-hatred.

"Jews having their noses bobbed and Poles changing their names is self-hatred.

"People who hate themselves carry marks of oppression, and these are a few examples.

"The oppressed behave in such a way as to make true what is said about them, and the prophecy of poor self-human worth is fulfilled.

"The mark of oppression appears to be upon Crispus Attucks. Although it is one of the finest facilities in the city, it bears a yoke of oppression.

"Don’t for one instant blame the lack of development of this facility, past or present, on one man or its board of directors. Rather, blame all of us who hate ourselves because anything which is Black has to be bad.

"Basically, that is what Negroes unconsciously believe. And, the feeling has persisted from generation to generation because of slavery. This yoke is still upon a portion of York’s Black community because it refuses to place a foot in the door of this excellent building.

"Not all the blame can be based upon race, attitude or slavery. The economics of the United States, which bars some of its citizens from participating fully in its industries, businesses and government, adds to Black psychological and physical ailments.

"Census data published in January, 1975, in summarizing 1973 information, state that the poverty threshold was $4,540 for a non-farm family of four. Eight percent of the white population and 31 percent of all Black people were below the poverty level in 1973. Therefore, economically, depression is always present in the Black community. We recognize its existence when it hits the white community.

"Sixty-six percent of those Blacks living in poverty were families headed by women. This situation worsens yearly. In 1959, 23 percent of all Black families were headed by women. Ten years later, in 1969, 32 percent of all Black families were headed by women. These female-headed families, if eliminated, would cut Black poverty overnight by two-thirds. That is, if there were a husband in each female-headed household.

"Consequently, what Black men do or do not do for their women is a case of Black community concern. Information on family planning through a clinic may be one of C.A.’s thrusts. Despite such a public facility in York, the pseudo matriarchy is a peculiar problem requiring the attention of Blacks.

"However, the problem of female and male relationships is much deeper than the simplistic notion I have just presented.

"In York City and York County, educational indicators help delineate the enormity of the problem.

"The Area Vocational School enrolls less than 5 percent Black people. Yet, York City’s William Penn is 31 percent Black. If saleable skills are not attainable through vocational training, how then can Black men enter into the York area labor market which provides abundant high-paying jobs?

"A closer look at our schools nationally shows that 84 percent of all Black students are performing less than what is normally expected. On the other hand, only 16 percent of all white students perform below predictions. To make a comparison that is more frightening – throughout the United States, at the end of high school white students attain 14 years of education in 12 years, while their Black counterparts average nine years of educational attainment in 12 years.

"Crispus Attucks might wish to think of an alternative school in cooperation with the York City School District. Surplus properties are available.

"Further, for every white student suspended in the United States, there are two black students suspended. C.A. might wish to consider guidance for Black children, or, the formulation of some questions about school systems which allow such inequalities in what children learn and when and why they are suspended.

"The black power movement of the 1960s is very much inoperative. If nothing else, it did produce one very constructive idea. That is, people who are oppressed much build a sense of community.

"Charles V. Hamilton, one of America’s great political scientists, who happens to be Black, described the plight of the oppressed by issuing a declaration to the disaffected to unite, to recognize their heritage and to build a sense of community.

"Turning specifically to Blacks, he said, “It is a call for Black people to define their own goals, lead their own organizations and to support those organizations.” However, the Black movement never progressed beyond this point. Blacks have not united. Blacks do not recognize our heritage. Blacks have not built a sense of community. Blacks have not defined their goals. Blacks are not leading their own institutions. Blacks do not support their own organizations.

"I have talked about what the system does to the oppressed, but the question also remains, what do the oppressed do to themselves? It’s simple – they rip one another off.

"A check of the York Police pin map will reveal that crime against persons, in the main are Black against Black and rarely Black against White. The southeast, Penn Common and the Crispus Attucks Center are areas where the pins are most numerous.

"What can be done immediately? Don’t look for the bargain that the “junkies” have to sell. Don’t tolerate the houses in your block that purvey vice. Teach your children about boy/girl relationships. Encourage school attendance and excellence.

"Despite this dismal picture, we can change the way it is. I have stated that the abortive movement for Black dignity during the 1960s did produce a useful notion; that is, the need to build a sense of community.

"However, no one got beyond that to the needed second statement. Or, how to build a sense of community. This is the question Crispus Attucks is asking. How can a community center help build a sense of community?

"I say to the Board of Directors and the Center Director, take this analysis of the problem as presented here, and if you agree that it has some merit, then commence the formulation of a statement of mission for Crispus Attucks.

"Preferably, the statement should be no longer than a paragraph, or maybe just as short as a sentence. It should be stated in generic terms. It should state what the purpose of this institution is now. The spelling out of the details is left to the various departments as to how each will accomplish its specific tasks in the economy of time and effort.

"My suggestion, as a start, is: The mission of Crispus Attucks is to improve the quality of life for the citizens of York, especially those who are Black and oppressed. Major emphasis is to improve health and employment opportunities, education and recreation for the Center’s participants.

"In addition, it is the Center’s aim to teach the less fortunate to become their own advocates and mediators.

"Once such a statement of mission or purpose is drafted, the difficult task of mission accomplishment may begin; the only restraints being, your limit of fiscal and human resources.

"We can change the way things are. And, of all the institutions in York, Crispus Attucks is the logical choice to improve the quality of life among the disaffected.

"Your new leader, this fine facility, and your Board of Directors give us all cause to hope.

"For some years now, in an attempt to correct the wrongs Negroes have traditionally suffered in the United States, liberals, both Black and White, have said that it is now time to release the downtrodden from the cross. Now, it is time to do something about it."

The social changes for the betterment has been, and still is a struggle since Dr. Holliday spoke those words. When Dr. Holliday came to this community, his primary intent was to bring his passion of education to the youth in our schools. He represented the good but it became enmeshed  with the spoils of the local past. Upon his arrival in 1982 the education of Cleveland’s youth was already losing ground to forces that was on the fringe of chaos. Education it seemed became secondary to more important causes within Cleveland City Council, For years the most powerful in the business community aligned themselves with the political leadership in legal “smash and grab,”efforts that lift education behind in the wake. I call some “human scavengers”with the know-how in logistics at fleecing the city and school treasuries. Certainly, this does not include all, just the ones who pillford taxes money needed in uplifting community services. Dr. Holliday knew about some of the detractors, but most of the fleecing was done within the boundaries of law which added frustration to his own work ethic. The note he left behind after his death was a clue to knowing. But the most important  passage in the note, placed emphasis on stopping the reckless bickering and start thinking about what is best for Cleveland youth.. His last request was not heeded either. Insanity is a strong word to use, but it fits the scenario to what came after the note was found. And today, there still are a few leaders growling...the man does not even deserve remembering for just a month out of the year because of…

Not so!. According to many citizens who echoed his demeanor in so many words claimed, Dr. Holliday was a man that mirrored democracy.  

Citizens have said, year after year, over and over, Dr. Holliday’s name deserves a place on a Cleveland school building. Who will among the leadership (the Mayor, Council members) step forward, and join others in remembrance of a person worthy of the most respected title in public education“superintendent.”  

Trying to find information on Dr. Holliday from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District homepage on the internet, is like looking for a needle in a haystack. It is there, but within another section of the site. Absent from the homepage are directions on how to get there. Once found (below) I noted the information next to his picture is in part, incorrect. I give this page a C grade with a chance of gaining an A, if CEO Eric Gordon is in a student sort of mood. An A Plus is even better after providing citizens with an easier way to access the “Former CEOS, Superintendents” site by route of the homepage.

Please let me know if the link below does not work.