THE NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE, 1910-1940 by Nancy J. Weiss


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This is a scholarly history of the National Urban League from its inception in 1910 until 1940. The League was the result of a merger between two New York based organizations, The National League for the Protection of Colored Women and the Committee for Improving the Industrial Condition of Negroes in New York. Both of these organizations prefigured the character of the Urban League in their interracial support and in the kinds of programs they promoted. Unlike the NAACP which was heir to the social protest philosophy of W. E. B. DuBois, the League followed the more conservative outlook of Booker T. Washington who explicitly disavowed social equality for blacks, preferring, instead, to concentrate on economic improvement, education and moral uplift. It was the belief of the League that, ""civil and political rights would have little meaning to a jobless black mired in urban squalor."" Later critics of this approach, such as Ralph Bunche, maintained that the Urban League was ""little more than a glorified employment agency."" Weiss takes a middle position, citing the League's benefits as a social service agency and as a source for data unobtainable elsewhere. But, she concludes, its impact in breaking down racial barriers through its policies of persuasion, diplomacy and conciliation has been minimal. It has been useful, she says, but not significant. Her study is thoroughgoing and workmanlike, definitely for the specialist.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1974
Publisher: Oxford