BLUE, WELCOME T., SR. (1867-24 May 1930), one of Cleveland's pioneering AFRICAN AMERICAN realtors and prominent community leaders, was born in Stillwater, Ohio. One of three sons, his father, William, was a native of Virginia and his mother, Adaline, was a native Ohioan. His brothers were William B. and Richards J. Blue. Making his way to Cleveland during the late nineteenth century, alongside many other blacks, Blue launched a long and successful career in the real estate business. In 1898, he founded the Acme Real Estate Company, with offices in the Garfield Building at 121 Euclid Avenue, to provide low-cost housing for African Americans increasingly encountering racial discrimination in the city's real estate market. In 1904, Blue joined forces with a prominent black entrepreneur, S. CLAYTON GREEN, to form the Mohawk Realty Company with offices in the American Trust Building on the northwest side of PUBLIC SQUARE. The company purchased apartment buildings, built houses on Cedar and Blaine Avenues, and erected the Clayton Building at 2828 Central Avenue, which included stores, offices, suites, and lodge rooms. Blue did not limit his entrepreneurial pursuits to the urban core but successfully secured housing for African Americans in the emerging suburbs. After acquiring a large tract of undeveloped land in the MOUNT PLEASANT section southeast of Cleveland, he sold lots to and built homes for black families. By 1907, there were some 100 black families living in the neighborhood and some 100 lots were owned by blacks. On March 23, 1903, Blue and his close friends, THOMAS W. FLEMING and Nahum D. Brascher, launched the CLEVELAND JOURNAL, a black weekly newspaper "devoted to the best interests of the Afro-American." During the nine-year existence of the newspaper, Blue served as president of the Cleveland Journal Publishing Company. He also invested in the Peoples Drug Company, the first black-owned grocery store in Cleveland, located at East 33rd Street and Central Avenue, in 1906.
In addition to his business ventures, Blue was renowned in Cleveland's African American community for his social and political activism. He helped to purchase the property at 186 Osborne (East 39th) Street for the CLEVELAND HOME FOR AGED COLORED PEOPLE in 1901. As ever growing numbers of black migrants arrived in Cleveland during WORLD WAR I, Blue founded the NEGRO WELFARE ASSOCIATION in late 1917 to aid recent arrivals to find suitable housing and employment. He served as the first president of the organization, which affiliated with the National Urban League in 1918. Blue also joined together with other prominent black Clevelanders, such as J. WALTER WILLS, SR. and Fleming, to form the Cleveland Realty, Housing, and Investment Company in 1917. Working to alleviate the severe housing shortage confronting blacks, the company acquired nearly every apartment building on East 40th Street between Central and Scovill Avenues by the end of 1918. A committed Republican throughout his life, Blue initially affiliated with the Onward Foraker Club of HARRY C. SMITH but broke with the fiery editor in 1907. He then joined other young black men, including his close associates, Fleming and Brascher, in launching the Attucks Republican Club that same year and served as its vice president. Blue was also a longtime member of the CLEVELAND ASSOCIATION OF COLORED MEN and the United Order of True Reformers, an African-American fraternal organization.
Blue was married to Carrie Latimore until her death on December 7, 1925. They had two sons together, Welcome T. Jr. and Clarence. He is buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.