This Day in Black History: July 31, 1921

Civil rights pioneer and former National Urban League executive director Whitney M. Young was born in Lincoln Ridge, Kentucky.

Posted: 07/31/2012 07:00 AM EDT

(Photo: Library of Congress)

Civil rights activist Whitney M. Young Jr. was born on July 31, 1921, in Lincoln Ridge, Kentucky.

Young is best known for his work in expanding the reach of the National Urban League (NUL) and raising unprecedented sums of money in support of civil rights efforts. After earning a master’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota, Young began volunteering and accepting leadership positions within the NUL and the NAACP.

In 1961, Young became executive director of the NUL. During his tenure, Young drastically expanded the membership of the organization beyond its majority white base and leveraged relationships with high-profile white business and political leaders to convince corporate America to provide more jobs for Blacks and to use federal dollars to help the inner cities.

Young died on March 11, 1971, when he drowned off the coast of Lagos, Nigeria.

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