© 2022 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Weather-related closings from WKYC

Ohioan Traces State's Role in Making Labor Day a National Holiday

photo of Bob Saffold
Bob Saffold with the proclamation that made Labor Day a holiday.

The state is honoring two men from Ohio who helped make Labor Day a national holiday more than a hundred years ago.

Ohio was the first state to recognize Labor Day in 1890 with a law sponsored by State Rep. John Patterson Green of Cleveland. Bob Saffold, a businessman and minister from Warrensville Heights and the stepfather of Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH 11th district), said that idea influenced Ohio-born U.S. Senator James Henderson Kyle, who represented South Dakota in 1893.

“James Henderson Kyle got the idea for Labor Day in the US from his friend from Ohio, who we believe was the first state in the union to have that.”

Saffold noted Green was African American and Kyle was white, but both were Republicans.

Saffold said he brought this to the attention of the state, which has put out a declaration honoring Green and Kyle for their dual role in launching Labor Day nationwide.