Indiana University South Bend Archives
1700 Mishawaka Ave. P.O. Box 7111
South Bend, Indiana 46634
Telephone: (574) 520 - 4392
Creator: Civil Rights Heritage Center
Title: Streets Family papers of the Civil Rights Heritage Center
Extent: One (1) bankers box at 1.25 cubic feet, one (1) flat case at 1.20 cubic feet
The Streets Family papers documents the life of South Bend, Indiana residents Dr. Bernard and Odie Mae Streets, and their families in previous and subsequent generations. The Streets were life-long community activists in South Bend and beyond. The collection documents both their service to and activities in the South Bend community through the years through their personal papers and photographs. The Streets were key figures in community activism on many levels – bettering South Bend’s underserved populations and neighborhoods. The Streets family also was active in national non-profit and religious-based organizations
Scope and Content Note:
The collection material is arranged by subject. Photographs are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the primary individual (when known). If there are multiple items of the same subject, photographs are arranged chronologically. Further, the collection documents several South Bend-specific betterment organizations, such as the South Bend Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). There is a second box containing items too large for a banker’s box. This box is located in Archives Room #204A – in the lower shelving unit at the east end of the room
Dr. Bernard Streets, Sr. (May 6, 1906-July 1, 2000)
Dr. Bernard Streets, Sr. was an important civil rights leader in South Bend from the 1930s through the 1960s. He was born in Keyser, West Virginia in 1905. His family moved to Logansport, Indiana when he was a child and he graduated from Logansport High School in 1925. He attended Indiana University and graduated from the I. U. School of Dentistry in 1929. Dr. Streets became the first African American dentist in South Bend when he moved there in 1929. Together with other African American health professionals he organized an annual Negro Health Week, which focused on such issues as nutrition, free clinics for youth, and public health. As a dentist, Streets had a multi-ethnic clientele, learning Polish to better serve the patients in his neighborhood office. He was a key leader in the revival of the South Bend Chapter of the NAACP in 1930 when the organization began pushing for integration at the Public Natatorium and in theaters and restaurants. Streets was a member of the Sanhedrin Club, a group of African American professional men who worked together, despite having different political affiliations, to make sure that civil rights issues were addressed in the community. Streets also worked actively to open up better areas of factory employment for African Americans. In 1931 he married Odie Mae Johnson and they raised a family of four children, Bernard, Jr., Donald, Nancy, and Sandy. Streets served as a Dental Officer in World War II from 1942 to 1945. He was a devoted member of the Baha’i Faith, which he joined in 1952. Streets was an active member of the South Bend Human Relations and Fair Employment Practices Commission in 1966 and later years, promoting open housing and investigating claims of discrimination in employment and public accommodations. Dr. Streets welcomed James Meredith to South Bend and helped to bring in other nationally known speakers such as Alex Haley. He and his wife moved to Niles, Michigan in 1971, where he pursued his love of gardening. Streets continued to work through religious and political and social channels to promote better cooperation and understanding between the races. He died in Niles in 2000.
Odie Mae Johnson Streets (Nov. 1, 1913-August 10, 2006)
Odie Mae Johnson Streets was an important woman civil rights leader and educator, bridging the gap between African Americans and Latinos in South Bend. She was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1913 and moved to South Bend when she was a child. She graduated from South Bend High School in 1931. In that year, she was married to Bernard Streets. They lived on Lincoln Way West in South Bend and eventually had a family of four children, Bernard, Jr., Donald, Nancy, and Sandy. Streets, along with her husband, was one of the leaders who revived the NAACP in 1930. She served as Secretary. Streets worked for the Ball Band rubber company in Mishawaka during World War II. The Streets family also hosted international students in their home. From 1951 through 1968, Mrs. Streets studied and earned college credits at the Indiana University extension in South Bend, then housed at Central High School. Streets studied abroad in Europe and at the University of Guadalajara and other sites in Mexico. Streets served on the board of the YWCA and volunteered as a tutor with Laubauch Literacy Action. Streets helped women who stayed at the YWCA learn English. She was a board member of El Centro Migrant Center aiding Mexican Americans with her Spanish language skills. She was also one of the first volunteer teachers for Head Start under the South Bend Community School Corporation. She was a devoted member of the Baha’i Faith, which she joined in 1949. Odie Mae Streets gave of herself in helping others through her language skills and talents in education. Through her faith and her volunteer work she sought better cooperation and understanding between the races. She died in Niles, Michigan in 2006.