Civil and Political Rights

How was the National Urban League involved in civil rights activities?

In the educational sector, the National Urban League pressured schools to expand vocational opportunities, all the while pursuing its strategy of “education and persuasion.” Throughout the 1960s, the league kept pace with the efforts of other groups that demanded African-American civil rights during the modern Civil Rights Movement. With the election of Whitney M. Young Jr. (1921–1971) as the organization’s president in 1961, the league was able to expand its fundraising ability and become more involved with its cohorts, who focused primarily on direct action as a means of achieving racial equality. In 1963 the league participated in the planning of the A. Philip Randolph- and Martin Luther King Jr.-led March on Washington. While his ten-year tenure was tragically cut short by death in 1971, Young’s vision for the closure of economic racial disparities and his commitment to health, job training, and educational services to communities was extended by subsequent directors. Among these are Vernon E. Jordan Jr. and, more recently, through the leadership of president and chief executive officer Marc H. Morial, a former mayor of New Orleans.

Randall Robinson is an activist and attorney who founded TransAfrica, which works to lobby Washington, D.C., about foreign policy in Africa and the Caribbean.


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