In June of 1908, a group of black professional men united to improve the economic and social conditions for the black race. They called themselves The Cleveland Association of Colored Men.
They came out of a smaller organization called the Cleveland Board of Trade which was an affiliate of Booker T. Washington's National Negro Business League.
The Cleveland Association of Colored Men had a mission to advance the interests of colored people of Cleveland and they did it by bringing community leaders together.
The group presented lectures, public meetings, charity functions, and social events to promote discussions on how to make the community better. They zeroed in on discriminatory practices and met with officials to solve injustices. They stressed self-reliance, believing that one day the result would be an acceptance of blacks.
A favorite event of the group, but also a very controversial one, was an annual Emancipation Celebration picnic at Luna Park. It was a "whites" only facility that only accommodated black people on select occasions.
The highlight of the event was a speaker of national prominence. Cleveland inventor Garrett Morgan was one of those speakers and he was also a founding member of the organization.