Black History Where Labor Day Originated From Ohio Writes Robert Saffold, Stepfather Of U.S. Rep. Fudge Whose Parade Is Sept 5

Submitted by JournalistKathy... on Sat, 09/03/2011 - 01:48.

 John Patterson Green,(1845-1940), Ohio's First Black Attorney And The Father of Labor Day From Ohio, Who As A State Legislator Introduced State Legislation For Labor Day, A National Holiday As Subsequently Adopted Via Congressional Legislation
 By Robert Saffold, Contributing Writer (Saffold is the stepfather of U.S. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH). He and his wife Marion Saffold are members of the Cleveland Chapter of The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. He can be reached at 216-333-7299 and at garth_saffold [at] att [dot] net). (Editor's Note: Join Saffold, Fudge, local, county and state wide office holders, political wannabe's and community members for the annual 11th Congressional District Caucus Parade and Picnic on Labor Day, Sept 5 . The parade kicks off at 11:00 am from E. 149th St. and Kinsman Rd in Cleveland and ends at Luke Easter Park where the picnic will begin with political speeches and entertainment from various sources including the Lady D Drill Team. For more information call 11th Congressional District Caucus Chairperson Sheila Wright at 216-374-5550).
    Union Advocate Robert Saffold
By Robert Saffold, Contributing Writer 
The Cleveland Chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists commemorates the “Father of Labor Day in Ohio,” the Honorable John Patterson Green. As we get ready to celebrate Labor Day in the Ohio and the U.S.A. on September 5th, 2011, it is without a doubt that most Americans, especially union folks, will remember the deeds and exploits of such giants of organized labor such as A. Philip Randolph of the Sleeping Car Porters, John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers, Philip Murray of the United Steal Workers, Jimmy Hoffa of the Teamsters, Walter Reuther of the United Auto Workers, and Cesar Chaves, of the United Farm Workers.
As a student of history and a former elected union official I have overtime witnessed these great icons of the trade labor movement and current labor leaders being recognized and commemorated for their many outstanding contributions to their constituents and the community at large.

But the individuals that have gained the most attention and publicity from the media and the public have been elected officials, candidates for office and other politicians. At first I thought this revelation was ironic until I remembered my “Black History” lessons.

In 1882, Cleveland’s first black lawyer, John Patterson Green, was elected to serve in the Ohio House of Representatives. In 1892, he was elected a state senator representing the 25th district of Ohio in Cleveland. It is a documented fact that this Cleveland attorney was the first African- American to serve as a state senator north of the Mason-Dixie Line. It was in the Ohio General Assembly during his second term that John Patterson Green sponsored the “Labor Day” legislation that earned him the title “Father of Labor Day in Ohio.” The former common laborer, lawyer, and justice of the peace wanted to honor all working men and women in Ohio with the idea of establishing a holiday to celebrate the contributions of workers , not politicians. On April 28, 1890, John Patterson Green’s efforts were successful as House Bill 500 was passed. It was a short bill consisting of only one sentence of 30 words. The Labor Day Bill began as follows:

“Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, that the first Monday in September of each and every year shall be known as Labor Day…..”

In 1894, the U.S. Congress passed a bill making Labor Day a national holiday. While serving as an Ohio State Legislator, John Patterson Green sponsored or supported 21 major bills on behalf of labor. During his professional and legislative career, he “counted” among his closest friends, Mr. and Mrs. John D. (Ms. Lara C. Spellman) Rockefeller, Marcus A. Hanna, and George A. Myers, all captains of industry. He also was a friend of, and assisted Civil Rights leaders such as Harry Smith, Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglas, Charles Chestnut, and other black leaders of his day. 

During the Honorable John Patterson Green’s illustrious career, the lawyer and legislator earned the respect not only of Cleveland, Ohio lawyers and public officials, but also U.S. Presidents James Garfield and William McKinley, both of whom appointed him to various federal positions. But of all his associations and accomplishments, John Patterson Green was most proud of his work to honor all working men and women of this nation by sponsoring “Labor Day in Ohio.”

This material on John Patterson Green was researched at the Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Oh. by Minister Robert E. Saffold.

Since its founding conference in 1972, Coalition of Black Trade Union’s stature among American workers has grown. Currently, more than 50 different international and national unions are represented in CBTU. With over 60 chapters nationwide and one in Ontario, Canada, CBTU is maximizing the strength and influence of black workers in unions and empowering their communities.

 From the Metro Desk of The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com (

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Labor Day history

Thanks Kathy!  See above. Buried at Woodland Cemetery.  John Patterson Green.  We take so much for granted :)

 Thank you Imcshane--Kathy

 Thank you Imcshane--Kathy Wray Coleman