Civil and Political Rights

What is the purpose of the National Urban League?

One of the earliest organizations of its kind, the National Urban League (NUM) has been a grass-roots leader in the twentieth-century struggle to secure African-American civil rights and economic opportunities. Founded as the Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes on September 29, 1910, by Ruth Standish Baldwin, the widow of railroad magnate and philanthropist William H. Baldwin Jr., and by Fisk University and Columbia University graduate George Edmund Haynes, the league was fostered through the consolidation of the Committee for Improving the Industrial Conditions of Negroes in New York and the National League for the Protection of Colored Women, both founded in 1906. Renamed the National Urban League in 1911, the interracial organization was committed to securing economic and social parity for blacks as well as advocating racial integration. Its goals were particularly geared toward Northern populations of blacks who had migrated during the great black migration in search of economic opportunity, only to find that racism also pervaded the North and often reduced them to manual laborers. The league quickly emerged as a leader in the fight for blacks in urban settings. Through its artful mastery of negotiation and persuasion, for a century the league has successfully pushed for better educational and employment opportunities for African Americans.


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