As civil unrest continues to spread across our country, and worldwide, we can take this time to look back at Cleveland’s history when black activism affected change through peaceful protests and boycotts.
The Future Outlook League was founded in Cleveland, Ohio in 1935 by John Holly. He established the Future Outlook League as an organization that would demand better economic treatment for African Americans. Holly was inspired by a trip to Chicago’s World fair in 1933 where he saw black people with jobs in managerial positions that had been won through boycotts against white owned stores. Upon returning to Cleveland he held a meeting at his home and began forming the Future Outlook League (FOL) and served as its first president
The FOL used economic boycotts and picketing to get African Americans hired at places they shopped and conducted business at; but were unable to get employment at because of their race. Attempting to fight racial discrimination in employment, the organization’s slogan was “Don’t buy where you can’t work.” Through protesting and boycotting by not spending money at places that did not hire blacks, in Cleveland the FOL helped to integrate staffing of the Cleveland Transit System, Ohio Bell, and May Company.
During its peak, the FOL had more than 27,000 members, attracting both skilled and unskilled workers. The organization was mainly supported by weekly fees paid by those who secured employment through the efforts of the organization. . They also helped to organize working-class black people through labor unions, and began to challenge discriminatory practices through the court system.
If you wish to learn more about the Future Outlook League and Cleveland’s social justice history our archive collection consists of records pertaining to the establishment of the FOL and its activities in promoting employment and civil rights on behalf of Cleveland’s black community.