Civil Society and Democracy

The National Urban League

The National Urban League was formed in 1920 from older organizations that had helped Southern black migrants adjust to urban life in the North. It soon expanded its mission to securing educational and employment opportunities for African Americans generally. The Fund’s relationship with the League began in 1941, when the organization specialized in industrial relations. The Rockefeller family had long advocated racial equality in industry, and this need escalated during World War II, as African Americans sought employment in the growing defense industry. After the war, the League became a leading organization in the civil rights movement, and the Fund’s support for it continued throughout the 1960s and 1970s, ultimately totaling over $1.5 million. Led in the 1960s by Whitney M. Young, Jr. and in the 1970s by Vernon E. Jordan, former director of the United Negro College Fund, the National Urban League became an important cornerstone of the RBF Equal Opportunity Program. Winthrop Rockefeller served on the League’s board.

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Browse the major events in the Rockefeller Brothers Fund's history