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Who We Are
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  The Louisville Urban League is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, interracial community service organization dedicated to the elimination of racism and its effects within our community. The Louisville Urban League's mission is to assist African-American and disadvantaged persons in the achievement of social and economic equality primarily through education, employment, housing, family development, and community development.

Through the years the League has sought to create and implement programs to improve the socioeconomic conditions of minority-group and low-income individuals; to create an interaction with community leaders, public officials, other agencies, and the business sector; and to assume an advocacy and bridge-building role to promote understanding and greater racial harmony.

As African-Americans began migrating from rural areas to urban communities after the turn of the century, they encountered an industrial world for which there were unprepared. In Louisville a group of progressive-minded African-American women became involved in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program as a way of providing guidance and role models for African-American children. Their efforts expanded when they were joined by a group of African-American and influential White men seeking to alleviate other problems within the Black community.

Thus in 1920, only 10 years after the founding of what was to become the National Urban League, the Louisville Urban League emerged and became a member agency of the Community Chest. It was incorporated in August 1921 and was initially known as The Urban League of Louisville for Social Service Among Negroes and as The Louisville Branch of the National Urban League before becoming the Louisville Urban League. Elwood Street, serving as temporary Chairman, appointed a five-person committee to create the framework for a local Urban League. The first Executive Secretary was appointed and the work of the Louisville Urban League began.

Over the years, great individuals have led the organization through times of transition, triumph and tribulation. Still, with each era the Louisville Urban League emerged at the forefront of critical issues that have molded the community into what it is today. These great leaders, as well as their major accomplishments are listed below.

Elmer S. Carter
Executive Secretary
(1921 - 1924) Established foundation for local Urban League Affiliate.
J.M. Ragland
Executive Secretary
(1924 - 1929) Implemented broad public relations effort to introduce all-white organizations to socioeconomic problems faced by African-Americans.
J.A. Thomas
Executive Secretary
(1929 - 1943) Worked to improve race relations and established the League as a positive force among local social welfare agencies.
Robert E. Black
Executive Secretary
(1943 - 1946) Pioneered opportunities for African Americans in business; spearheaded creation of two junior high schools for Blacks.
Charles T. Steele
Executive Director
(1946 - 1970) Established framework for Louisville's growth in equal opportunity and human relations;

Led city's earliest workforce development efforts;

Oversaw establishment of local Guild.

Arthur M. Walters
Executive Director
(1970 - 1987) Expanded programs with increased funding;

Continued diversification of Board of Directors; broadened League relationship with the community;

Established Equal Opportunity Day Dinner; led League involvement in implementation of Civil Rights Act of 1964;

Established affirmative action monitoring program;

Expanded League programs in workforce development, housing counseling, computer training, youth education;

Launched $1.2 million capital campaign; added Black Adoption Program.

Benjamin K. Richmond
(1987 - Present) Successfully completed $1.2 million capital campaign; oversaw construction of new League headquarters;

Continued expansion of League programs, training and workforce development;

Established REBOUND housing development project;

Enhanced League relationship with business community; instrumental in fostering growth of minority businesses and entrepreneurs.

As the new millennium begins, the League, in partnership with other local organizations, looks forward to fostering a better understanding of race relations, to creating an environment of change committed to eliminating racial inequities, and to instilling a message of hope in those it touches.

The above information is intended to give a brief synopsis of Louisville Urban League history.

For further information contact the League office at 561-6830.

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