MYERS, GEORGE A. (5 Mar. 1859-17 Jan. 1930), an African American politician and leader, was born in Baltimore, Md. to Isaac and Emma V. (Morgan) Meyers. He became a barber, arrived in Cleveland in 1879, and worked at Weddell House Barber Shop. In 1888 he opened shop in the new HOLLENDEN HOTEL, financed by white friends LIBERTY E. HOLDEN and JAS. FORD RHODES. By 1920 Myers' shop had 17 barbers, 6 manicurists, 5 porters, 3 ladies' hairdressers, 2 cashiers, and 2 podiatrists.

The shop brought Myers into contact with politicians, and he became a close ally to MARCUS HANNA, even bribing a state legislator in 1897 to insure Hanna's election to the U.S. Senate. In 1892, 1896 and 1900 he was a delegate to the Republican Natl. Convention. His support for Wm. McKinley earned him offers of political appointments; Myers refused appointment himself but gained positions for 4 other AFRICAN AMERICANS.

After the deaths of McKinley (1901) and Hanna (1904), Myers retired from national politics. During the 1920s, Myers became more militant in racial matters, possibly because of the Hollenden's decision in 1923 that after Myers retired, all black barbers would be replaced by whites. In the 1920s Myers successfully campaigned to have newspapers capitalize Negro and stop using offensive words; and persuaded authorities guarding Woodland Hills municipal swimming pool to prevent threatened violence to blacks. In 1930, Myers sold his barbershop to the hotel management and died in the train ticket office while preparing for a vacation. Survived by his first wife, Sarah, and his second wife, Maude E. Stewart, whom he married in 1896, Myers had two children, Dorothy and Herbert P. He was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.

Garraty, John A. The Barber and the Historian (1956).

George Myers Papers, Ohio Historical Society.

Finding aid for the George A. Myers Correspondence. WRHS.

Article Categories