Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Vincent J. Cannato

Second Advisor

Roberta L. Wollons

Third Advisor

Timothy Hacsi


In May of 1968 Cleveland Mayor Carl Stokes launched an ambitious social welfare program titled “Cleveland Now!” The program sought to remedy the numerous problems faced by inner city residents in Cleveland by fundraising from private sources and through Great Society grants awarded from the state and federal governments. The program required the creation of a coalition of white business owners and private citizens, that would help with the fund raising, moderate and radical black community leaders, who would be recipients and distributors of funds, and government institutions that would implement and monitor the program as it was headed by Stokes. Ultimately, this coalition was unsustainable as numerous factors pulled it apart. The Glenville Shootout which led to the deaths of four policemen and touched off a riot that lasted for days was linked to Cleveland Now! when the shootout’s perpetrator admitted to using funds from the program to buy weapons. In the aftermath, the business community began to question how their donations were being spent and began to pull out support. Meanwhile, Carl Stokes became embroiled in fights with the Cleveland Police and the City Council who challenged his efforts to implement Cleveland Now! programs. Stokes became increasingly bitter at his inability to get his program implement and, in reaction, he adopted a combative style of governing that further contributed to the growing disillusionment of Cleveland Now! of its investors. Even if the program were successful in completing its goals, it relied on short term solutions that did not change the deep-seated roots that allowed unemployment, discrimination and other social ills to perpetuate in inner city Cleveland. Therefore, Cleveland Now! proved to be a naïve endeavor that was fatally flawed from its inception.


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