On this page I’ll share some public documents and other resources around school segregation and Rochester history. Check back as I add new things.
School demographics calculator
Enter any two schools or districts in New York and see how one would change if it had the demographics of the other.
Austin Steward, Twenty-Two Years a Slave, and Forty Years a Freeman (1857)
The memoir of Rochester’s first prominent Black resident and the founder of its first school for Black children in 1818 (see p. 132).
“Racial Segregation in Rochester Schools, 1818-1856”
My article in Rochester History about the Rochester school desegregation battle of the 19th century, adapted from my book.
“How Rochester’s growing city and suburbs excluded Black residents”
My story in the Democrat and Chronicle reviewing housing discrimination in the Rochester area, adapted from my book.
“George Eastman created Rochester’s middle class. Why was the Black community left behind?”
An adaptation from my book published in the Democrat and Chronicle.
“50 years ago Rochester tried an experiment with desegregation. It lasted less than 2 months”
A third excerpt from the book, this one focusing on the 1971-72 school year.
“The Rise and Fall of an American Tech Giant”
A lengthy article about Eastman Kodak and Rochester in The Atlantic magazine, June/July 2021 (I’m quoted).
“Second Report of the N.Y.S. Temporary Commission on the Condition of the Colored Urban Population” (1939)
A wonderful survey resource on the Black populations of Rochester and other cities in the years before the Great Migration began in earnest.
“Negroes in Five New York Cities: A Study of Problems, Achievements and Trends” (1958)
This study has a wealth of detailed information on housing, education, employment and other aspects of Black Rochester in the midst of the Great Migration here. (The other four cities included are Albany, Binghamton, Syracuse and Troy.)
Proposed Model for a County Federation of School Districts (1971)
This study from 1971 represents the most formal consideration of metropolitan education reform that’s ever been conducted in Rochester. It dismisses the idea of a true countywide school district but proposes sharing property tax and state revenues across Monroe County and creating a regional governance board with mandatory shared services.
Phillis Wheatley Public Library Oral History Collection
An archive of more than 100 oral history interviews with leading Black Rochesterians, conducted in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Rochester Black Freedom Struggle Oral History Project
Transcribed interviews of several veterans of the Civil Rights movement in Rochester. Conducted by historian Laura Warren Hill and used in her book Strike the Hammer: The Black Freedom Struggle in Rochester, New York, 1940-1970.
“Racist Policy and Resistance in Rochester”
A PowerPoint by Shane Wiegand, a Rush-Henrietta teacher and co-lead of the Antiracist Curriculum Project at the Pathstone Foundation who is developing anti-racist curriculum for use in local schools. It contains striking documentation regarding housing discrimination, Ku Klux Klan activity and blackface minstrel shows in the Rochester area.
“Confronting Racial Covenants: How They Segregated Monroe County and What To Do About Them”
A 2020 study by City Roots Community Land Trust and the Yale Environmental Protection Clinic, documenting the widespread use of racially restrictive covenants in the Rochester area.
Great Schools for All report on “breakthrough schools” (Orrick report)
A 2021 report examining legal and financial barriers to cross-district schools. It recommends state legislative change to BOCES, allowing RCSD to participate for a limited purpose.