Friends of the African Union

We, the African Diaspora in the USA, can be a change Africa needs – now .

FAU Ohio State Chapter

Ohio is an Eastern state in the Great Lakes region of the United States. Ohio is the 34th largest by area, the 7th most populous, and the 10th most densely populated of the 50 United States. The state’s capital and largest city is Columbus, home of FAU Columbus.

Black or African American make up 12.2% of the population of 11,613,423 or 1.3M people.

As of 2011, 27.6% of Ohio’s children under the age of 1 belonged to minority groups. 6.2% of Ohio’s population is under 5 years of age, 23.7 percent under 18 years of age, and 14.1 percent were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 51.2 percent of the population.


Currently there are three FAU Chapters in Ohio

FAU Cincinnati (2012)

FAU Columbus (2016)

FAU Cleveland (2016)

City Population Number of BLACK FOLK County FAU Chapter
Columbus 787,033  220,241 Franklin Yes
Cleveland 396,815  211,672 Cuyahoga Yes
Cincinnati 296,943  132,670 Hamilton Yes
Toledo 287,208 Lucas
Akron 199,110 Summit
Dayton 141,527 Montgomery
Parma 81,601 Cuyahoga
Canton 73,007 Stark
Youngstown 66,982 Mahoning
Lorain 64,097 Lorain
Hamilton 62,477 Butler
Springfield 60,608 Clark
Kettering 56,163 Greene
Kettering 56,163 Montgomery
Elyria 54,533 Lorain
Lakewood 52,131 Cuyahoga
Cuyahoga Falls 49,652 Summit
Euclid 48,920 Cuyahoga
Middletown 48,694 Butler
Mansfield 47,821 Richland
Newark 47,573 Licking
Mentor 47,159 Lake
Cleveland Heights 46,121 Cuyahoga
Beavercreek 45,193 Greene
Strongsville 44,750 Cuyahoga
Fairfield 42,510 Butler
Dublin 41,751 Delaware
Dublin 41,751 Franklin
Dublin 41,751 Union
Warren 41,557 Trumbull
Findlay 41,202 Hancock
Lancaster 38,780 Fairfield
Lima 38,771 Allen
Huber Heights 38,101 Miami
Huber Heights 38,101 Montgomery
Marion 36,837 Marion
Westerville 36,120 Delaware
Westerville 36,120 Franklin
Reynoldsburg 35,893 Fairfield
Reynoldsburg 35,893 Franklin
Reynoldsburg 35,893 Licking
Grove City 35,575 Franklin
Stow 34,837 Summit
Delaware 34,753 Delaware
Brunswick 34,255 Medina
Upper Arlington 33,771 Franklin
Gahanna 33,248 Franklin
Westlake 32,729 Cuyahoga
North Olmsted 32,718 Cuyahoga
Fairborn 32,352 Greene
Massillon 32,149 Stark
Mason 30,712 Warren
North Royalton 30,444 Cuyahoga
Bowling Green 30,028 Wood
North Ridgeville 29,465 Lorain
Kent 28,904 Portage
Garfield Heights 28,849 Cuyahoga
Shaker Heights 28,448 Cuyahoga
Hilliard 28,435 Franklin
Medina 26,678 Medina
Barberton 26,550 Summit
Wooster 26,119 Wayne
Sandusky 25,793 Erie
Xenia 25,719 Greene
Green 25,699 Summit
Zanesville 25,487 Muskingum
Riverside 25,201 Montgomery
Troy 25,058 Miami
Trotwood 24,431 Montgomery
Centerville 23,999 Greene
Centerville 23,999 Montgomery
Athens 23,832 Athens
Solon 23,348 Cuyahoga
Maple Heights 23,138 Cuyahoga
Avon Lake 22,581 Lorain
Alliance 22,322 Mahoning
Alliance 22,322 Stark
South Euclid 22,295 Cuyahoga
Willoughby 22,268 Lake
Hudson 22,262 Summit
Marysville 22,094 Union
Chillicothe 21,901 Ross
Wadsworth 21,567 Medina
Oxford 21,371 Butler
Sidney 21,229 Shelby
Avon 21,193 Lorain
Parma Heights 20,718 Cuyahoga
Perrysburg 20,623 Wood
Piqua 20,522 Miami
Ashland 20,362 Ashland
Oregon 20,291 Lucas
Portsmouth 20,226 Scioto
Rocky River 20,213 Cuyahoga
Miamisburg 20,181 Montgomery
Lebanon 20,033 Warren
Painesville 19,563 Lake
Broadview Heights 19,400 Cuyahoga
Niles 19,266 Trumbull
Brook Park 19,212 Cuyahoga
Norwood 19,207 Hamilton
Mayfield Heights 19,155 Cuyahoga
Ashtabula 19,124 Ashtabula
Berea 19,093 Cuyahoga
Sylvania 18,965 Lucas
Twinsburg 18,795 Summit
Forest Park 18,720 Hamilton
Steubenville 18,659 Jefferson
Eastlake 18,577 Lake
Pickerington 18,291 Fairfield
Pickerington 18,291 Franklin
Whitehall 18,062 Franklin
Tiffin 17,963 Seneca
East Cleveland 17,843 Cuyahoga


Partitioned from the Northwest Territory, the state was admitted to the Union as the 17th state (and the first under the Northwest Ordinance) on March 1, 1803.  The post-American Revolutionary War Territory Northwest of the River Ohio, more commonly known as the Northwest Territory encompassing most of the pre-war territory of the Ohio Country, was an organized incorporated territory of the United States spanning most or large parts of six eventual U.S. States. It existed legally from July 13, 1787, until March 1, 1803, when the southeastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Ohio,

In the 18th century, Great Britain and the French Crown disputed for control of this region. The French had claimed it in the 17th century as part of the New France Province of Quebec; the competition between the nations was one cause of the French and Indian War (known as the Seven Years’ Warin Europe). After Britain gained control following its defeat of France in 1763, its attempts to reserve the territory for use byNative Americans under the Royal Proclamation of 1763roused resentment among British colonists, who were already seeking to settle west of the Appalachian Mountains.

The region was assigned to the United States in the Treaty of Paris of 1783, but sporadic westward emigrant settlements had already resumed late in the war after the Iroquois Confederation‘s power was broken and the tribes scattered by the 1779 Sullivan Expedition.

Ohio Indian wars

The young United States government, deeply in debt following the Revolutionary War and lacking authority to tax under the Articles of Confederation, planned to raise revenue from the methodical sale of land in the Northwest Territory. This plan necessarily called for the removal of both Native American villages and squatters from the Eastern U.S. Difficulties with Native American tribes and a supporting British military presence presented continuing obstacles for American expansion. As late as 1791, Rufus Putnam wrote to President Washington that “we shall be so reduced and discouraged as to give up the settlement.” The military campaign of General “Mad” Anthony Wayne against the Native Americans, who were supported by a British company, eventually culminated with victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794 and the Treaty of Greenville of 1795. Jay’s Treaty, in 1794, temporarily helped to smooth relations with British traders in the region, where British citizens outnumbered American citizens throughout the 1790s.

Furthermore, in regards to the Leni Lenape Native Americans living in the region, Congress decided that 10,000 acres on the Muskingum River in the present state of Ohio would “be set apart and the property thereof be vested in the Moravian Brethren . . . or a society of the said Brethren for civilizing the Indians and promoting Christianity.”[7]

The first governor of the Northwest Territory, Arthur St. Clair, formally established the government on July 15, 1788, at Marietta. His original plan called for the organization of five initial counties: Washington (Ohio east of the Scioto River), Hamilton (Ohio between the Scioto and the Miami Rivers), Knox (Indiana and eastern Illinois),St. Clair (Illinois and Wisconsin), and Wayne (Michigan).

Under the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which created the Northwest Territory, General St. Clair was appointed governor of what is now Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, along with parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota. He named Cincinnati, Ohio, after the Society of the Cincinnati, and it was there that he established his home. When the territory was divided in 1800, he served as governor of the Ohio Territory.

As Governor, he formulated the Maxwell Code (named after its printer, William Maxwell), the first written laws of the territory. He also sought to end Native American claims to Ohio land and clear the way for white settlement. In 1789, he succeeded in getting certain Indians to sign the Treaty of Fort Harmar, but many native leaders had not been invited to participate in the negotiations, or had refused to do so. Rather than settling the Indian’s claims, the treaty provoked them to further resistance in what is sometimes known as the “Northwest Indian War” (or “Little Turtle’s War”). Mutual hostilities led to a campaign by General Josiah Harmar, whose 1,500 militiamen were defeated by the Indians in October 1790.[8]

In March 1791, St. Clair succeeded Harmar as commander of the United States Army and was commissioned as a major general. He personally led a punitive expedition involving two Regular Army regiments and some militia. In October 1791 as an advance post for his campaign, Fort Jefferson (Ohio) was built under the direction of General Arthur St. Clair. Located in present-day Darke County in far western Ohio, the fort was built of wood and intended primarily as a supply depot; accordingly, it was originally named Fort Deposit. One month later, near modern-day Fort Recovery, his force advanced to the location of Indian settlements near the headwaters of the Wabash River, but on November 4 they were routed in battle by a tribal confederation led by Miami Chief Little Turtle and Shawnee chief Blue Jacket. More than 600 soldiers and scores of women and children were killed in the battle, which has since borne the name “St. Clair’s Defeat“, also known as the “Battle of the Wabash”, the “Columbia Massacre,” or the “Battle of a Thousand Slain”.

It remains the greatest defeat of a US Army by Native Americans in history, with about 623 American soldiers killed in action and about 50 Native American killed. Although an investigation exonerated him, St. Clair resigned his army commission in March 1792 at the request of President Washington, but continued to serve as Governor of the Northwest Territory.

Check signed by Arthur St. Clairwhile Governor of the Northwest Territory (1796)

A Federalist, St. Clair hoped to see two states made of the Ohio Territory in order to increase Federalist power in Congress. However, he was resented by Ohio Democratic-Republicans for what were perceived as his partisanship, high-handededness and arrogance in office. In 1802, his opposition to plans for Ohio statehood led PresidentThomas Jefferson to remove him from office as territorial governor. He thus played no part in the organizing of the state of Ohio in 1803. The first Ohio Constitution provided for a weak governor and a strong legislature, in part due to a reaction to St. Clair’s method of governance.

Ongoing disputes with the British over the region was a contributing factor to the War of 1812. When the United States attacked British North America, most of the British forces were engaged in the Napoleonic Wars. Thus, British North America had minimal troops to defend against the United States, who had a much larger (though poorly trained) military force. For most of the war, British North America stood alone against a much stronger American force. Reinforcements from the United Kingdom did not arrive until 1814, the final year of the war.

Britain irrevocably ceded claim to the former Northwest Territory with the Treaty of Ghent in 1814.

The Treaty was approved by the UK parliament and signed into law by the Prince Regent (the future King George IV) on December 30, 1814. It took a month for news of the peace treaty to reach the United States, and in the meantime American forces under Andrew Jackson won the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815. The Treaty of Ghent was not fully in effect until it was ratified by the U.S. Senate unanimously on February 17, 1815.

The course of the war resolved and ended all of the original issues, especially since the American Indians had been defeated and the Americans scored enough victories (especially at New Orleans) to satisfy honor and the sense of becoming fully independent from Britain.

A key reason that American frontiersmen were so much in favor of the war in the first place was the threat by various Native American tribes, which they blamed on intervention by British agents in Canada. In addition, they wanted access to lands that the British acknowledged belonged to the U.S. but that the British were blocking by inciting and arming the Native Americans. With the death of Tecumseh in battle in 1813, the First Nation military power ended.  With the destruction of the power of Indians to block American expansion into the Northwest. American fears of the Native Americans ended, as did British plans to create a buffer Native American state.

In the treaty, the British promised not to arm the Native Americans in the U.S. from Canada (nor even trade with them), and the U.S.-Canada border was largely pacified. However, some Americans assumed that the British continued to conspire with their former Native American allies in an attempt to forestall U.S. hegemony in the Great Lakes region. Such perceptions were faulty, argues Calloway (1987). After the Treaty of Ghent, the Native Americans in the Great Lakes region became an undesirable burden to British policymakers.

In the Southeast, Andrew Jackson‘s destruction of Britain’s allies, the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814, ended the threat of Native American hostilities in that region. It opened vast areas in Georgia and Alabama for settlement as plantations and farmlands. The U.S. occupied all of West Florida during the war and in 1819 purchased the rest of Florida from Spain, thus closing the base of weapons for hostile tribes. Creek Indians who escaped to Spanish Florida joined the Seminoles there, and put up a long resistance known as the Seminole Wars.

The natives were the main losers in the war, losing British protection, and never regained their influence.

William Henry Harrison, Sr. (February 9, 1773 – April 4, 1841) was the ninth President of the United States (1841), an American military officer and politician, and the last president born as aBritish subject. Harrison died on his 32nd day in office of complications from pneumonia, serving the shortest tenure in United States presidential history.

Before election as president, Harrison served as the first territorial congressional delegate from the Northwest Territory, as governorof the Indiana Territory, and later as a U.S. representative andsenator from Ohio. He originally gained national fame for leading U.S. forces against American Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoein 1811.

He originally gained national fame for leading U.S. forces against American Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoein 1811, where he earned the nickname “Tippecanoe” (or “Old Tippecanoe”). As a general in the subsequent War of 1812, his most notable action was in the Battle of the Thames in 1813. This battle resulted in the death of Tecumseh and the dissolution of the Indian coalition which he led.

After the war, Harrison moved to Ohio, where he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. In 1824, the state legislature elected him to the U.S. Senate. He served a truncated term after being appointed as Minister Plenipotentiary to Gran Colombia in May 1828. In Santa Fe de Bogotá, he spoke with president Simón Bolívar, urging his nation to adopt American-style democracy.

Slavery was abolished in Ohio by the state’s original constitution (1802). But at the same time, Ohio, with slave-state Kentucky across the river, took the lead in aggressively barring black immigration. The Ohio River was a major slave market and port for shipping slaves downriver by the Mississippi to the South.

Ohio’s first constitution, the Ohio Constitution of 1803, outlawed slavery. This was a requirement of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Despite this legal protection, some African-American Ohioans were actually slaves. Slave owners lived especially in southern Ohio. If a sheriff or some other law enforcement official accused the owner of violating the law, the slave owner would simply transport his slave or slaves across the Ohio River to the slave-holding state of Kentucky.

The numbers of African Americans in Ohio hovered near two percent of the state’s total population throughout the first half of the nineteenth century. By 1810, 1,890 blacks called Ohio home, increasing to 4,723 a decade later. By 1860, 36,700 African Americans resided in the state.

The state had enacted Black Laws in 1804 and 1807 that compelled blacks entering the state to post bond of $500 guaranteeing good behavior and to produce a court paper as proof that they were free.

“No extensive effort was made to enforce the bond requirement” Likwack wrote, “until 1829, when the rapid increase of the Negro population alarmed “whites” in Cincinnati. The White riot occurred in Cincinnati because Irish immigrants disliked economic competition from the African-American community.  The city authorities announced that the Black Laws would be enforced and ordered Negroes to comply or leave within thirty days.”

Citizens of the city’s “Little Africa” — largely a ghetto of wooden shacks owned by whites — appealed for a delay, and sent a delegation to Canada to try to find a place to settle there. But if the authorities were willing to offer more time, the Ohio mob was not, and whites in packs roamed through the black neighborhoods, burning and beating. The delegation came back from Upper Canada with the offer of a safe home from the governor. “Tell the Republicans on your side of the line that we royalists do not know men by their color. Should you come to us you will be entitled to all the privileges of the rest of His Majesty’s subjects.”

About half of the city’s 2,200 blacks left, most of them apparently going to Canada. The proponents of strict enforcement of the Black Laws then discovered that they had driven off “the sober, honest, industrious, and useful portion of the colored population,” which lessened “much of the moral restraint … on the idle and indolent, as well as the profligate” among the rest.[3]

The abolitionists in the Old Northwest pitched their appeal, in part, to the desire for a homogenous (white) Ohio by claiming that attempts by blacks to immigrate into the state would end when slavery ceased and there was no more reason for blacks to flee the South for “the uncongenial North.”

Blacks petitioned against the exclusion laws, but the state legislature denied they had the right to petition the government “for any purpose whatsoever.” Finally, after the Free Soil Party gained a degree of power in the state in 1849, a compromise partially repealed the Black Laws, ending the bond-posting requirement. It was a rare, if not unique, instance of a Northern state loosening its restrictions on black settlement.

Sometimes African Americans formed their own towns in Ohio. Such was the case for Carthagena in Mercer County. During the 1840s, whites drove them from the area. Similar events occurred in the Scioto River Valley in the early 1800s.  Carthagena was laid out in 1840.[3] It is named after Cartagena, a city in the south-east of Spain. The village was started by Charles Moore from Harrison County, Kentucky around the same time Mercer County was established. Charles Moore was a black man and owned 160 acres of land in Carthagena. Black people lived in Carthagena for over 100 years, the last known member of the black community in Carthagena was Albert Bowles who died in 1957 and is buried in the black cemetery there. The land a black school stood on (Emlen Institute) was purchased by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood (C.P.P.S.) for $4500 on March 14, 1861. Aseminary was built and named “Saint Charles Seminary”. The Saint Charles Center has been operated by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood since then

The northern tier of the state had been settled by good stock from southern New England and to a degree shared in the liberal and abolitionist religion and politics of that region. But when it came to an issue like integrating schools, the people’s plain feelings revealed themselves.

When the public school system spread to Ohio, citizens and legislators alike objected to educating blacks from public funds, in part because it would tend to encourage blacks to come there and settle.

In the end, the state, like Pennsylvania, required its district school directors to set up separate facilities for black and white children. The Ohio courts upheld this segregation in 1850 and 1859, rejecting the idea of integration and declaring that, “whether consistent with true philanthropy or not … there … still is an almost invincible repugnance to such communion and fellowship.”

Yet segregation was not enough for many Ohio whites, and they insulted, opposed, and sometimes literally attacked private schools set up to teach black children. Whites destroyed newly opened schools for blacks in Zanesville in 1837 and Troy in 1840.

In the 1830s, Oberlin College decided to open its doors to black students. As soon as the plan became known “panic and despair” seized students, faculty, and town residents. The chief proponent of the plan hastened to assure them that he had no intention to let the place “full up with filthy stupid negroes,” but the controversy continued. The board of trustees tried to table the plan, but by now the abolitionists were aroused and would accept no retreat. In the end, in 1835, the trustees punted the decision to the faculty, which was assured of allowing black students to attend the school.

The move threatened the very existence of the college. From New England, the quarter from which much of the school’s student body and money came, the college’s financial agent wrote predicting disaster. “For as soon as your darkies begin to come in in any considerable numbers, unless they are completely separated … the whites will begin to leave — and at length your Institute will change colour. Why not have a black Institution, Dyed in the wool — and let Oberlin be?”

The college did survive integration, however, mostly because before 1860 only a token handful of blacks were admitted. In 1860, the figure for black students was 4 percent. Still, the school was shocklingly integrated by Northern standards. A Massachusetts girl wrote home from the school in 1852, assuring her family, “that we don’t have to kiss the Niggars nor speak to them,” and anyway only about six “pure Niggars” were a the school, the rest looked like mulattoes, and anyway they dressed better than most of the white students.

Ohio was one of the states that prohibited blacks from testifying in legal cases involving white people. When that ban was lifted as part of the Free Soil-Democratic compromise of 1849, observers nonetheless acknowledged that, in the southern part of the state, where most of the blacks lived and where prejudice ran strongest, social forces would keep the ban in practical effect.

As for the brief victories of the Free Soilers, by 1854, the state government was back to its old ways, and it expelled a black reporter from a freedman’s newspaper from the Senate press galley because his presence there violated “the laws of nature and the moral and political well-being of both races.”

When the Republicans arose as the Northern political party, in Ohio as in Pennsylvania they kept their distance from abolitionists and blacks to assure their success. “The ‘negro question,’ ” one state leader of the party wrote as Lincoln’s election approached, “as we understand it, is a white man’s question, the question of the right of free white laborers to the soil of the territories. It is not to be crushed or retarded by shouting ‘Sambo’ at us. We have no Sambo in our platform. … We object to Sambo. We don’t want him about. We insist that he shall not be forced upon us.”

Most Ohioans supported the Thirteenth Amendment, but passage of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments was much more difficult. The Ohio government actually approved the Fourteenth Amendment in 1867 and then revoked its approval in 1868. The Ohio legislature did not reauthorize its approval of this amendment until 2003. The Fifteenth Amendment did pass the Ohio legislature in 1870, but by just one vote in the Ohio Senate and two votes in the Ohio House, illustrating the racism that continued to exist in the state.

During the first decades of the twentieth century, Ohio’s African American population soared. The Great Migration began in the 1910s and continued at least through World War II in the early 1940s. During this thirty-year period, hundreds of thousands of African Americans moved from the South to the North. In the South, most African Americans had few rights and opportunities. Most of these people worked as sharecroppers, tenant farmers, or as day laborers. With the outbreak of World War I, numerous jobs opened in Northern factories as white men enlisted in the United States military and were sent to Europe to fight. While some African-American men also enlisted in the armed forces, many others migrated to the North to fill these factory positions. Estimates vary, but perhaps as many as 500,000 African Americans moved from the South to the North during the 1910s and the early 1920s.

Thousands of African Americans who participated in the Great Migration settled in Ohio. They provided businesses in the state’s industrial centers, including Cleveland, Youngstown, Toledo, and Akron, among other cities, with workers. In 1920, African Americans made up only three percent of Ohio’s population, but their numbers increased dramatically enough over the next decade to have risen to five percent of the population by 1930. The growing African-American population in Ohio dramatically altered the state. Most African Americans were forced to live in segregated communities, separate from the whites. Cities experienced a tremendous building boom during the 1910s and 1920s. For example, in a study of housing in Akron completed in 1939, it was determined that sixty percent of the city houses were constructed between 1914 and 1924, when the Great Migration was at its peak. Race riots again occurred in Ohio and other Northern states, as some whites feared that they would lose jobs to the migrants. Despite the problems that African Americans faced in the North, the racism that they endured tended to be less overt than that of the South. The Great Migration did create new opportunity and hope for the African Americans who migrated northwards, but true equality did not result in the 1910s, the 1920s, the 1930s, nor the 1940s.

Following World War II, many African Americans and whites united to protest the racism and discrimination that existed in the United States. Before this point in time, smaller numbers of blacks and whites had fought for equality, but with World War II’s conclusion a more organized movement, the Civil Rights Movement, arose. There were several reasons why this movement developed when it did, a prominent reason being the fact that hundreds of thousands of African Americans served their country during World War II. They discovered that racial discrimination was not nearly as oppressive in European countries like Great Britain and France. For the first time, they realized that the United States could become a land without racial discrimination. Another primary reason for the growth of the Civil Rights Movement at the end of World War II was the G.I. Bill. To help veterans from World War II readjust to life after returning home, the federal government helped offset the cost of a college education. Thousands of African American veterans took advantage of this benefit, only to discover upon graduating from college that whites received the better-paying jobs. Many African Americans took jobs that they could have attained without a four-year college degree. Unhappy that the United States supposedly represented freedom and equality but did not truly provide these items to all people, many African Americans and their white supporters thus created a much more organized movement to attain equality.

The Civil Rights Movement culminated in 1964 and 1965, with the federal government’s passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. These two federal laws outlawed segregation, guaranteed African Americans equal protection under the law, and truly secured African American men and women the right to vote. However, the Civil Rights Movement was not over. Many activists continued to urge peaceful demonstrations to protest the lack of equal pay for equal work. They also sought to improve educational opportunities for people of all races. The Civil Rights Movement, however, began to change. Some African Americans, especially younger ones, began to reject these calls for non-violent protests. These people wanted changes to occur much more quickly. They demanded action now, rather than the slower changes that usually came from peaceful demonstrations. By 1965, the Civil Rights Movement had divided between the followers of Martin Luther King, Jr., who advocated peaceful protest, and generally younger and more violent African Americans.

While most people associate the Civil Rights Movement with the struggle to provide African Americans living in the Southern United States with equal opportunities, this reform era encompassed much more. During the 1950s and 1960s, African Americans living in the northern portion of the United States also experienced racism and discrimination, although generally the problems that these people endured were not as oppressive as those that African Americans faced in the South. Many African American and white Ohioans actively sought to reform the South, joining organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Congress on Racial Equality, and participating in protests across the South, including the Freedom Summer Project of 1964. Other Northern activists also sought to end racism in the North, including in Ohio. For example, during the 1960s and 1970s, the United Freedom Movement sought to desegregate schools in Cleveland, Ohio. Partly due to pressure from Civil Rights activists, the Ohio government implemented the Ohio Civil Rights Act of 1959, which was to “prevent and eliminate the practice of discrimination in employment against persons because of their race, color, religion, national origin, or ancestry.” It also was to guarantee all people fair access to public facilities and private businesses.

The Ohio Civil Rights Act established the Ohio Civil Rights Commission to enforce these stipulations, helping to eliminate discrimination in Ohio.

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission is the primary educator and enforcer of Ohio’s Laws Against Discrimination. The Ohio Civil Rights Commission says about its mission, “We strive to be professional, competent and fair to our clients and all Ohio citizens as we educate the public and investigate claims of discrimination. It is our responsibility to be a strong force in promoting positive human relations among our diverse population. We value employees for commitment, skills and creativity. We provide a work environment based on empowerment, respect for others and honesty. We create a culture where daily learning is valued and opportunities for professional growth and training are provided. We incorporate technological innovations and processes in achieving our mission.”

Ohio Civil Rights Act of 1959

 To help eliminate racial discrimination in Ohio, the Ohio General Assembly enacted the Ohio Civil Rights Act of 1959.

This legislation replaced the Ohio Public Accommodations Law of 1884, which had prohibited discriminatory practices in public facilities. The State of Ohio had failed to enforce the earlier act’s provisions. The Ohio Civil Rights Act of 1959 was passed to “prevent and eliminate the practice of discrimination in employment against persons because of their race, color, religion, national origin, or ancestry.” Intending to end segregated restaurants, movie theaters, and other businesses, the act also guaranteed all people fair access to public facilities and private businesses.

The Ohio Civil Rights Act created the Ohio Civil Rights Commission to enforce the law. The commission initially conducted a study of discriminatory practices within the state and discovered that minority groups were commonly denied jobs and access to various businesses, including restaurants, bowling alleys, hotels, and other establishments. As the Ohio Civil Rights Commission began enforcing the Civil Rights Act, a number of organizations tried to avoid the law by becoming private clubs rather than businesses open to the public. Despite these attempts, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission has been successful over the past several decades in achieving its goals. Several Ohio governors and the Ohio legislature have supported stricter laws that helped to eliminate racial discrimination.