Black workers were in search of ways to build wealth and be respected for their skills. The American League of Color Laborers (ALCL) fit the bill. Many freed Black workers, mostly craftsmen and agricultural workers, joined because this special union understood the challenges Black workers faced
The ALCL grew powerful quickly. Frederick Douglass, being one of the most prominent and popular leaders of his time, brought attention to the organization and grew its membership.
Douglass’ participation surprised many because, until this point, he had never ventured into labor and economics. But his abolitionist work led him to realize that if we weren’t free in the workplace, we would never truly experience complete freedom of body and soul when it came to work.
This is why the ALCL had one aspect that was unheard of when it came to unions.
The organization encouraged Black entrepreneurship. It established a fund to lend to Black entrepreneurs.
The ALCL became a safe haven for Black workers at a time when we were stepping into our freedom as workers. The love and support for growing entrepreneurship reminds us today to support our people in their endeavors. We're all we got.