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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

HARGRAVE, MASON ALEXANDER - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

HARGRAVE, MASON ALEXANDER (20 Mar.1923-12 Dec. 1988) was an African-American community activist best known for his work with the UNIVERSAL NEGRO IMPROVEMENT ASSN. (UNIA).

Hargrave was born in Virginia, the son of Rev. James W. and Sadie E. (Johnson) Hargrave, and raised in Buffalo, NY. He came to Cleveland in 1947, working first as a railroad waiter and then at a variety of jobs. From 1969 to 1981 he worked for HOPE Inc., an organization that developed new housing in Hough.

Hargrave joined the UNIA in 1969, at a time when membership in the organization was declining significantly. He served as the president of the Cleveland chapter, and eventually became the organization's national president. He also promoted the acceptance of the red, black, and green black nationalist flag, and was instrumental in having it flown for the first time over Cleveland City Hall in 1974. Hargrave worked for better community relations and served on the boards of several community organizations.

In the 1980s, Hargrave led efforts to restore the UNIA Building (formerly the JACOB GOLDSMITH HOUSE). He planned to convert it into a headquarters for the UNIA as well as a museum and cultural and neighborhood center. In November, 1988, the house suffered a devasting fire. The following month Hargrave died, and in January, 1989, the house was demolished. After Hargrave's death, the Cleveland chapter of the UNIA went dormant.

Hargrave and his wife Mary Jane (d. 1970), had one child, a son Mason A. Hagrave, Jr. Hargrave Sr. died in Cleveland and is buried in RIVERSIDE CEMETERY.

United Negro Improvement Association Records, WRHS.

Last Modified: 17 Jul 1997 01:38:58 PM

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