The Cleveland Community and the Call and Post

     The impact of the northward migrations17 of Blacks was evident in Cleveland by the 1930s. As in other destination cities, racial exclusion and cultural solidarity caused Blacks in Cleveland to cluster in residential, social, religious and business activities. The increased population also provided for a diversity of social, occupational, and educational classes.

     Prior to the migrations, the Black population was small and primarily consisted of people with similar socio-economic characteristics.18 They tended to be natives or longstanding Cleveland residents usually involved in self-employed services or professional occupations. They had an integrated clientele which reflected the cohesiveness and the racial liberalism of the city.19 Cleveland had been a stronghold of abolitionist activity and continued such sentiments for decades after Emancipation. Thus, Blacks and whites generally lived and socialized with each other on an equal basis. Furthermore, there were not enough Blacks living in Cleveland to be the sole support of Black-owned businesses.20

     The racial egalitarianism and homogeneity of the Black population had disappeared by the 1930s.21 There were various factions in the Black community that had different ways of approaching the challenges unique to the race. Traditional organizations such as the NAACP and the Urban League, whose members were of the elite, professional class tended to work through clubs, churches, and other established institutions to obtain racial equality. For example, the NAACP advocated using political and legal action, whereas the Urban League presented forums, speeches, and discussion groups to promote positive race relations.22

     The Depression-ridden '30s, however, gave prominence to radical groups that focused on the economic plight of the Black working class. These groups included various Communist Party factions,23 those related to labor movements and those advocating the use of economic boycotts.24


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February 2000