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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CONNERS, WILLIAM RANDALL

CONNERS, WILLIAM RANDALL

CONNERS, WILLIAM RANDALL (4 Oct. 1878-22 Jan. 1942) was founder and first executive secretary of the the Negro Welfare Association (URBAN LEAGUE OF CLEVELAND) who gained national attention for his efforts to improve conditions for AFRICAN AMERICANS.

Conners was born in Augusta, Georgia. He graduated from Biddle College (Johnson C. Smith University) Charlotte, N.C. in 1897 and received his M.A. in 1903. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Conners taught at Livingston College in Salisbury, N.C. and was later principal of the Gay Street Training School in Westchester, PA.

Coming to Cleveland in 1917 Conners became executive secretary of the Negro Welfare Association, founded with the purpose of ending employment discrimination against Blacks. He held the position until his retirement in 1940.

During his early years with the Negro Welfare Association Conners focused on convincing Cleveland industries to accept black labor in their factories and mills. He established an employment agency at the Association's headquarters on East 40th Street.

During the 1930s Conners, who was a long-time housing advocate, changed the Association's primary goal from employment to improved housing conditions. The Association's programs would center around better housing, improved sanitation, domestic relations counselling and promoting racial understanding to end employment and housing barriers.

Long active in civic work Conners founded and served as secretary of (until 1936) the Lower Woodland Community Council which included civic, religious and educational leaders of the district.

Conners married Nathalie Mikell. They had two daughters, Lauretta and Nellie. Conners was Presbyterian is buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.


The Urban League of Cleveland Records, WRHS.