Whitney Young, civil rights administrator
July 31

Whitney Young
*On this date, we mark the birth of Whitney M. Young Jr. in 1921. He was an African-American activist.

Young was born in Lincoln Ridge, Kentucky, and received his B. S. degree at Kentucky Stated College in 1941. He did graduate work at M.I.T. and earned an M. A. in social work from the University of Minnesota in 1947. From 1954 to 1961 Young served as dean of the Atlanta University School of Social Work. A prominent lecturer and author of several books, Young completed his first full-length book, To Be Equal, in 1964. A second, Beyond Racism, was published in 1969. Young was president of the National Association of Social Workers and the National Conference on Social Welfare.

He served on the boards and advisory committees of the Rockefeller Foundation, Urban Coalition, and Urban Institute. In 1969 Young was one of the 20 Americans to receive the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award. Whitney Young's many friendships with business and political leaders of the United States stirred much controversy within the black community. However, to Young, the important point was to maintain communication with America's centers of financial and political power, no matter how these race relations might be in the nation's streets and schools. Young was the executive director of the Urban League from 1961 to 1971.

He spoke out forcefully, right up to his untimely death, against the slow pace with which businesses and government agencies were fulfilling their promises to blacks. Young died while visiting Africa in 1971.

African Americans/Voices of Triumph
by Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Copyright 1993, TimeLife Inc.


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