After a group of African American labor leaders attended the annual convention of the National Labor Union in 1869, they decided that the time was right for African American laborers to have an organization of their own. Led by Isaac Myers, a skilled ship caulker from Baltimore, the Colored National Labor Union aimed to bring skilled and unskilled workers together to improve their living and working conditions. Although the organization lasted only a few years, it represented the black workers' expectation that wage earners of all races and skill levels could work together for a better future.

Read one reaction to the call to organize the Colored National Labor Union

Read reports of the Colored National Labor Union convention, Dec. 7 , Dec. 11