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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

UNITED FREEDOM MOVEMENT (UFM) - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The UNITED FREEDOM MOVEMENT (UFM), established 3 June 1963 in Cleveland, was a coalition of more than 50 civic, fraternal, social, and civil-rights organizations inspired by the southern civil-rights movement. The local chapter of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE (NAACP) issued invitations to the founding meeting. Some charged that this represented an attempt by moderates to gain control of Cleveland''s civil-rights movement, that they appropriated militants'' plan to form a coalition for direct-action protest. Skeptical militant leaders joined the UFM in hopes of influencing its direction. Harold B. Williams, executive secretary of the local NAACP, was the coordinator of the UFM; its 4 co-chairs included Carriebell J. Cook, Rev. Isaiah Pogue, Jr., Rev. Paul Younger, and Clarence Holmes. Commissions were established to examine the areas of EDUCATION, housing, employment, health and welfare, and voting and political participation, as they related to blacks (see AFRICAN AMERICANS) in Cleveland. Using negotiations first and then direct-action protests if necessary, the UFM planned to pressure local leaders in business, industry, and politics for improvements. The first actions involved employment. In late June and July 1963, UFM leaders threatened to picket the MALL to protest discrimination in hiring workers for the expansion of PUBLIC AUDITORIUM; negotiations between the UFM leaders, city officials, and representatives from industry and labor produced an agreement late in July. The UFM also sponsored the Freedom March on 14 July 1963, which culminated in a rally that drew about 20,000 people to Cleveland Stadium to hear national leaders Roy Wilkins of the NAACP and James Farmer of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality.

In Aug. 1963 the UFM turned its attention to the CLEVELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS, charging de facto segregation system-wide, staff discrimination, and segregation within individual schools. Violence resulted at the Murray Hill school in the spring, when UFM pickets, including liberal whites and clergymen, were met by crowds of hostile whites. Sit-ins at the school board building followed in early February. By Mar. 1964 the UFM argued that the school board was building new schools that would perpetuate segregation patterns. Picketing and other protests to halt work at construction sites led to the accidental death of Rev. BRUCE KLUNDER† on 7 Apr. 1964. Later that month, the UFM sponsored a school boycott. It also went to court in an unsuccessful attempt to halt new construction. School board president Ralph McAllister''s constant refusals to meet with UFM leaders were seen as an insult to the black community, as were similar refusals by Mayor Ralph Locher (see MAYORAL ADMINISTRATION OF RALPH S. LOCHER) in the summer of 1965. By the fall of 1965, tensions , had increased between moderates and militants within the UFM. The group was divided over whether it should endorse candidates seeking political office, especially Carl Stokes, for mayor (see MAYORAL ADMINISTRATION OF CARL B. STOKES). When the UFM steering committee voted to allow political endorsements, 3 leaders resigned. Although the UFM never did endorse candidates, the controversy split the organization and brought about its demise. As militants increased their power within the coalition, the NAACP withdrew in Feb. 1966.

Finding aid for the United Freedom Movement Freedom Schools Records. WRHS.
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2013 03:08:42 PM

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