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The Greater Cleveland Chapter Story

The history of the 100 Black Men of Greater Cleveland began when several men traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, at the invite of the late Roosevelt Adams. Roosevelt was a Clevelander who moved to Atlanta and became a successful businessman. He was also a member of the Metro Atlanta Chapter of the 100BMOA, arguably the most powerful chapter of the 100 in the country.

The 100 had been trying to establish a chapter in Cleveland for years but had yet to succeed. Roosevelt introduced Michael Nelson to Thomas W. Dortch, the National Chairman of the 100 Black Men of America and a very prominent businessperson in his own right. Thomas and Roosevelt explained to Nelson that they had met with some Cleveland Black businessmen and community leaders about starting a chapter of the 100. Nelson knew many of the names they mentioned and even indicated that he had attended at least two attempts to organize a Cleveland chapter.

At this point, Nelson promised both men that he would get the ball rolling in Cleveland and have a chapter in place. Nelson concluded that he would hold an organizational meeting of individuals who fit into each category, including representatives from the powerful political factions, Congressman Louis Stokes, former City Council President George Forbes, and Mayor Michael R. White.

A date was set, and Nelson invited a number of his friends, including Larry Hines, Gregory Clifford, Curtis Griggs, Tony Smith, Luther Towers, and Julius Singleton, along with Stokes’ rep, Ron Adrine, Forbes’ rep, Daryl Fields, and White rep, Nate Gray to meet with Chairman Dortch and Roosevelt Adams. The meeting was held at the now-closed Eloise’s Restaurant on East 79th and Carnegie. The Cleveland Chapter was established in 1997 and became an entire fledge chapter.

The first significant event was a rollout at the Cleveland Clinic. Over 90 men committed to joining, with about 70 men paying dues. Mayor Michael R. White committed to buying 100 copies of nationally known motivational speaker George Frazer’s book Success Runs in Our Race for each member. George, who attended the opening event, graciously took the time to autograph each member’s copy.

The next major event was a fundraising gala featuring nationally known recording artist the late Phylis Hyman. The event coordinator was the dynamic Richard Johnson, considered a significant internet influencer in today’s social media world. The event was held at the Marriott Hotel in Cleveland, and to say it was a success would be an understatement.

Funds raised by that first gala supported the Cleveland chapter’s version of the National 100’s Four For The Future programs of Health/Wellness, Economic Development, Education, and Mentoring. Larry Hines was our first Program Director, assisted by Curtis (Griggs)…. the parentheses are intentional; that’s how Curtis spelled his last name.

The 100 would continue to grow its brand in Cleveland. The group coordinated mentoring programs in numerous schools, including Daniel E. Morgan Elementary School, Cleveland East Senior High School, John F. Kennedy Senior High School, East Cleveland Shaw Senior High School, Mound School, and Warrensville Heights Senior High School. The 100 also held a Saturday morning mentoring program at its offices in Cleveland’s Shaker Square complex. The numerous programs included a reading program at Daniel E Morgan and a stock market competition at East High School. One of the highlights of our plan was the success of our East High Stock Market Challenge team, which traveled to Atlanta and took on some of the nation’s most prominent schools, finishing a highly respectable 3rd out of the scores of schools that competed.

In 2022, a class of 22 new members came in, and in 2023, the chapter is still thriving. Now, in 2024, celebrating twenty-seven years, after seven chairmen and numerous galas, you can still find the men mentoring in such schools as Wade Park Ken,neth Clement Boys Leadership Academy, and The Friendly Inn Settlement, to name a few.