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 groupÛªs 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. We look forward to celebrating our 50th Anniversary with you in 2018!