The National Urban League grew out of the spontaneous grassroots movement for freedom and opportunity that came to be called the Black Migrations. When the U.S. Supreme Court declared its approval of segregation in the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision, what had been a trickle of African Americans northward turned into a flood. Those newcomers to the North soon discovered they had not escaped racial discrimination in jobs, housing, education, and more. Still, African Americans remained optimistic about opportunity, leading to the formation of The Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes in 1910 in New York City. A year later, the Committee merged with two other organizations to form the National League on Urban Conditions Among Negroes (renamed in 1920 to the National Urban League.)
In 1963, four Madisonians commissioned a feasibility study on the burgeoning population of the city’s Black citizens. By the time the study was completed the following year, the Friends of the Urban League had grown to almost 40 diverse members from different cultural and faith communities. The group’s first attempt to secure funds to establish an Urban League were rejected on the grounds that “discrimination as it exists in other communities does not exist in Madison.” However, on February 20, 1968, the National Urban League approved the application of the Friends of the Urban League for affiliation and a movement for justice and education was born in Madison.
The mission of the Urban League of Greater Madison is to ensure that African Americans and other community members are educated, employed and empowered to live well, advance professionally and contribute to the common good in the 21st Century.
To make Greater Madison the “Best [place] in the Midwest”? for everyone to live, learn, and work.
Educate: To support and enhance the learning experiences of our youth in the classroom and the community so that they are prepared to realize their full potential in life.
Employ: To ensure that African Americans and others of working age are able to identify, train for and secure employment in stable and emerging industries.
Empower: To ensure that people of color are adequately empowered with the opportunity to transform their own communities, participate in social and cultural activities, and contribute to the common good of our region.
Our Core Values
Quality: We take pride providing quality services to our customers.
Human Dignity: We are sensitive to the needs and capabilities of our culturally diverse customers and staff.
Human Development: We have an environment that provides support, resources, and opportunities for high staff achievement.
Accountability: We provide effective management, strong leadership and responsible stewardship of our organization and resources.
Integrity: We always act in accord with our values and commitments thereby leading to a reputation for high credibility.