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YOUNG MEN'S SOCIETY

The YOUNG MEN'S SOCIETY, or the Colored Young Men's Lyceum, was an organization of black men in Cleveland founded in 1839 to advance and debate information on a variety of subjects. The society was patterned after the then-popular men's lyceum and literary organizations, with weekly meetings open to the general public. Within a few months of organization, members established a library and a reading room of about 100 books in the Mechanics Block downtown. The group also supported the small Free School for Blacks during its 3-month terms. Public debates covered such topics as "Would it be sound policy for the U.S. to declare war against Great Britain?" and "Would the principles of the American Anti-Slavery Society benefit colored people more than those of the Colonization Society?" The society exemplified efforts of blacks (see AFRICAN AMERICANS) in Cleveland to be accepted on the basis of their merit as good citizens, stating in a public resolution that "those who try to help themselves will find friends to help them."