National Urban League

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The National Urban League (NUL) is an American civil rights organization. Founded in New York City in 1911 as the National League on Urban Conditions among Negroes, its original mission was to aid southern black migrants' resettlement in northern cities through social work. Under the exhuberant leadership of Whitney M. Young, the Urban League became one of the "big six" organizations of the 1960s civil rights movement. Today, the organization remains active in its research and advocacy on behalf of black socioeconomic empowerment.

Historical development

Founding and pre-World War II development

The founding of the National Urban League grew out of the confluence of two larger developments that were underway in the United States during the Progressive Era: the great migration of southern blacks to northern cities and the prevailing emphasis on scientific social work as a means for easing individuals' transition to industrial democracy.

The NUL was created through the consolidation of three precursor organizations that had been established in New York City during the first decade of the twentieth century: the National League for the Protection of Colored Women (NLPCW), the Committee for Improving Industrial Conditions of Negroes in New York (CIICN), and the Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes (CUCAN). By April 1911, the three organizations were working in close cooperation and discussions regarding their unification were underway. In October 1911, they merged to form the National League on Urban Conditions Among Negroes (NLUCAN).

While all three precursor organizations and their leaders had a hand in shaping the League's early development, CUCAN, which had been founded just a year earlier by social worker George E. Haynes, was the most influential.

Civil rights movement

The National Urban League had traditionally stood apart from other civil rights organizations in its preference for social work rather than litigation and protest as a means for achieving racial equality. This began to change during World War II, when the League came out in support of A. Philip Randolph's March on Washington Movement, and came to a head during the civil rights movement's 1960s heyday.

Organizational structure

Contemporary activities

Since 2003, the League has maintained a five-point "Empowerment Agenda," which aims to promote progress in several broad policy domains: education and youth, economic empowerment, health and quality of life, civic engagement, and civil rights and racial justice.

References