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Leatrice Branch Madison

Civic leader, retired educator, and community activist Leatrice Branch Madison, was born September 5, 1922 in Washington, D.C. to Julia Bailey Branch and Hayes Branch. She was the oldest of three daughters. She attended the racially segregated public schools of Washington, D.C., graduating from Dunbar Senior High in 1939. Madison went on to earn a bachelor’s of science degree (cum laude) from Miner Teachers College in Washington, D.C. in 1943 and a master’s of arts degree in guidance and personnel from the University of Chicago in 1947.

Madison taught in the public schools of Washington, D.C. from 1943 to 1949 and Cleveland, Ohio between 1949-1951 and again later from 1954-1960, before becoming a fulltime wife, mother, homemaker and community volunteer in 1960. During this time, she also worked as an assistant librarian at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (1951-1952). Madison has served on the boards of numerous educational and human services organizations, including the Bingham Day Nursery, United Way Services, the Federation for Community Planning, Case Western Reserve University Board of Overseers, and Blue Cross of Northeast Ohio. Madison was a founding member of Heights Citizens for Human Rights—forerunner of Heights Community Congress--an organization established to ensure equal rights and fair housing for minorities moving into Cleveland Heights. She was also a founder of and one of the original board members for HARAMBEE: Services to Black Families, an agency designed to provide parenting skills to teenage parents and to recruit permanent adoptive homes for Black youngsters.

Madison’s devotion to community service also inspired committee work with the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, Friends of Karamu, the NAACP Fund Dinner, Case Western Reserve University’s Visiting Committee on the Humanities, the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra Advisory Council, the Planned Parenthood Long Range Planning Committee, and the Juvenile Court Youth Services Advisory Board, among others. In 1963, she helped launch the Cleveland Heights / University Heights Summer School Project, recruiting participants from the Cleveland Public Schools and raising funds to offer financial assistance to those in need. The project, which ended in 1969, helped pave the way for the integration of the Cleveland Heights / University Heights Schools.

Madison is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the NAACP’s Distinguished Service Plaque, the Federation for Community Planning’s President’s Award, Who’s Who Among Black Americans, and the University of Chicago Alumni Association’s Public Service Award. In 1999, Mrs. Madison and her husband Robert P. Madison received the Cleveland Opera Award for their visionary support of the arts in Cleveland. In 2004, she was honored by the Golden Age Centers for her many years of community service. Madison is an alumna member and former president of the Links, Incorporated, Cleveland Chapter.

Madison and her husband, Robert, reside in Shaker Heights, Ohio. They are the parents of two adult daughters.

Madison was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 14, 2004.\

Leatrice Madison passed away on March 30, 2012.

Accession Number

A2004.074

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/14/2004

Last Name

Madison

Maker Category
Middle Name

Branch

Occupation
Schools

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Miner Teachers College

University of Chicago

Shaw Junior High School

Lucretia Mott Elementary School

First Name

Leatrice

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

MAD03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

9/5/1922

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cleveland

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pudding (Corn)

Death Date

3/30/2012

Short Description

Community activist Leatrice Branch Madison (1922 - 2012 ) is a co-founder of and one of the original board members for HARAMBEE: Services to Black Families, an agency designed to provide parenting skills to teenage parents and to recruit permanent adoptive homes for African American children.

Employment

District of Columbia Public Schools

Cleveland Public Schools

Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Leatrice Branch Madison's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Leatrice Branch Madison lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about her childhood home in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about the schools she and her siblings attended

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Leatrice Branch Madison describes her school years in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Leatrice Branch Madison recalls being in teachers college as the United States entered World War II

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Leatrice Branch Madison recalls how she met and married her husband, HistoryMaker Robert P. Madison

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about her husband's experience in the 92nd Infantry during World War II

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Leatrice Branch Madison remembers the 1930s and 1940s

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about her grandparents and the death of her grandmothers

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about the political affiliations of Washington, D.C.'s African American community during the 1940s

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about voting rights for Washington, D.C. residents

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about her membership in the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about her mother's influence on her own civic engagement and her parent's attempt to buy a house

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about living in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Leatrice Branch Madison recalls her time living in Paris, France, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Leatrice Branch Madison recalls her time living in Paris, France, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Leatrice Branch Madison recalls returning to the U.S. and teaching in Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about her daughters and Karamu

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Leatrice Branch Madison describes enduring racist terror in Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Leatrice Branch Madison describes the racial demographics of Cleveland Heights, Ohio when her family moved there in 1960

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about people who lived in Cleveland Heights, Ohio and her involvement in community organizations

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about her neighbors in Cleveland Heights, Ohio and integrating a summer school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about her experience with the education system in Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Leatrice Branch Madison recalls when she began to see changes in the racial demographics of students in Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about a recommendation she made for inner city schools in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about the HARAMBEE adoption program

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about her involvement with the Women's Committee of the Cleveland Orchestra

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about her volunteer efforts through Jack and Jill and The Links, Incorporated

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about Project Discovery and United Way Services

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about predominantly black organizations The Links, Incorporated and Jack and Jill of America

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about the importance of education reform and her concerns for the 21st century

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about fundraising

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Leatrice Branch Madison talks about her grandchildren

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Leatrice Branch Madison reflects upon her success and awards she has received

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Leatrice Branch Madison remembers moving to Paris, France and serving on the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library Board

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Leatrice Branch Madison narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

9$7

DATitle
Leatrice Branch Madison describes enduring racist terror in Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Leatrice Branch Madison recalls returning to the U.S. and teaching in Ohio
Transcript
Now Cleveland Heights [Ohio] is a rather exclusive suburb at that point in history isn't it?$$I guess it was. Guess it was.$$Was that a positive experience then integrating the neighborhood?$$Well we had some good neighbors.$$Okay.$$We got threatened before we ever moved. See one thing that happened, the Sun Press had an article, a very inflammatory article because some people had moved--(unclear) those areas. And the Sun Press, you know, in essence, the Negroes are comin'. And we got threatened. Somebody called my husband [HistoryMaker Robert P. Madison] and, you know, asked him why was he movin' and our house was just about complete. As a matter of fact, we were gonna move in the next weekend, the next week, we'd move on the weekend. And he told Monk [Robert P. Madison] he would buy his house, buy our house if we would meet. And Monk said okay I'll meet you at my office and he never showed up. But during that period, and I don't know why, [J.] Newton Hill came as director of Karamu [House, Cleveland, Ohio] and they bombed his house. And then he was gonna buy a house from a family named Garrd, no I got it backwards. The Garrd family, G-A-R-R-D, they said they would sell to Newton Hill, they bombed it. So when they sold to Newton Hill they bombed it again. So I heard both of those. And one of, this is the irony you deal with, and one of those occasions, Robert Madison had left home to get the model of the American Embassy to take to the [U.S.] State Department the next day. And I'm sittin' here with two little kids [Jeanne Madison and Juliette Madison] and the house is shakin'. And, you know, he is getting this kind of recognition and this is what's happening. And then one Mother's Day we heard, it was night, we had been out to dinner and come in, we heard a bomb and they bombed Rodger Saffold's house at one point. So I don't know. We never did find out. And I got a copy of the letter we used to get religiously in that box, the hangman's noose and the letter. And we called the Cleveland Heights police and I called the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation]. I never heard that they found anybody or that they knew who it was. But it ceased after a while. And we had some good neighbors who looked out for us.$$Okay. So you built the home in Cleveland Heights, is that one that Mr. Madison designed?$$As a matter of fact, there are two Madison design houses side-by-side. We moved, we were supposed to move the same time, we were a week apart. How it all got started, a guy who was a psychiatrist, who has since died, Charles DeLeon, came and said to Monk, "I have two adolescent daughters and I'm livin' in an apartment, I wanna build a house." So his wife, Sydney [ph.], and I, we'd go out and look at land, and we had looked in Bratenahl [Ohio], we'd lookin' out in Mayfield Village [Ohio], we're lookin'. And Robert came home one day and said, "Ya know, I was drivin' down North Park Boulevard and I saw two lots." So we got a white lawyer who bought those two lots for us and gave us a quick claim deed. And then Robert designed the houses, and the City of Cleveland Heights said okay if you go in straight up, you know, with no deception, it's okay. So (unclear) the contractor said the same thing. And so we moved in our house first, October the 27th, 1960. And I will never forget the first night we were there, all of a sudden I see all these people running out in the street, across the street to the ravine. I thought oh my God what has happened now. I didn't hear anything. But nothin' happened. And then one night somebody came up into our circular driveway and the light came down our drape, and Monk ran outside to see what it was and I was pleading with him, "Don't go out, don't go out, stay in here." We had some harrowing times, but we survived.$And so, when you came home in '53 [1953] where did you settle?$$Well, we went back to Washington [D.C.] and he [Madison's husband, HistoryMaker Robert P. Madision] taught a year and announced he was coming back here [Cleveland, Ohio] to open his office. So I said well since we like to eat, I got up and got a job teachin'. So I taught a semester before we came back here, and we came back here in '54 [1954] and he opened his office, you see. When I came here in '49 [1949] I had my master's [degree] and I went down--people told me, "Oh Cleveland board won't hire you, they don't hire colored teachers." What it is, they would only hire colored teachers and put up in an area where there were colored teachers and colored kids. It happens, thank goodness, I wrote to the state first and got my certificate for elementary schools and for guidance counseling, and went down and talked to Dr. Levinson [ph.]. And Miles Standish [Elementary School, Cleveland, Ohio] at that point was in transition. And so he said I'm--we didn't even have a car, so he said I'm gonna appoint you to Miles Standish--no I'm gonna appoint you to a school on a streetcar line. So every day I rode the bus and then I had to walk that long two blocks from 105th street to Miles Standish until we got a car. And so I taught there a year and a half. But while I was down at the board of education, I went to find out about guidance counseling. So I went to information, they said to go to the second floor. I went to the second floor and they said, oh no go to the sixth floor, this was 1949. And I went to the sixth floor, they said go to the second floor. I said, I just left the second floor and we just stood and looked at each other. Slowly it dawned on me I was getting the run around, and I don't have good sense. We came back in '54 [1954] and I went through the same thing again (laughter).$$But you got hired?$$Well I got hired to teach, but I got a degree to do some counseling, I think I could do some counseling as well as some of these other people.$$Did you ever get a position counseling?$$No, 'cause I came home, eventually.