This year, the National Urban League is celebrating 100 years of existence. It’s also celebrating a century of service.
Ruth Standish Baldwin and Dr. George Edmund Haynes founded the Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes on Sept. 29, 1910, in New York City. Later this group merged with the Committee for the Improvement of Industrial Conditions Among Negroes in New York and the National League for the Protection of Colored Women to form the National League on Urban Conditions Among Negroes. By 1920, the name had been shortened to National Urban League, the name it uses now.
What characterized the organization was its commitment to providing direct services. While many other organizations of the time and throughout the civil rights movement were focused on concepts, principles and broad social changes, the National Urban League stepped up to meet direct needs in the community.
Described as an “organization of social workers” by current CEO and President Marc Morial, it continues to operate from a perspective articulated by former Executive Director Whitney M. Young Jr., who said, “Every man is our brother, and every man’s burden is our own. Where poverty exists, all are poorer. Where hate flourishes, all are corrupted. Where injustice reins, all are unequal.”
In a century where many long standing organizations are searching for ways to remain relevant, the National Urban League has done so by always branching out from its core — which is helping people meet their immediate needs and accomplish their short and longer-term goals. Whether it be finding the extra money to keep the lights on or feed the family until pay day or understanding the process and saving to purchase a home, the Urban League through its many affiliates across the country helps individuals and families address and meet those needs. That service continues as the backbone of the Urban League’s efforts.
Next week, the National Urban League will celebrate its 100-year milestone at a convention in Washington, D.C. There, the NUL will showcase this service through job fairs, workshops and seminars on everything from employment opportunities in green industries to better understanding finances, and a grand day of volunteering in the District of Columbia.
At the center of this convention is what’s at the center of this storied organization — helping people to rise above their circumstances and achieve economic empowerment.
Congratulations, National Urban League, on this milestone. Thank you for your service to the community and the country.