This week, the National Urban League celebrates its Centennial year with a call to action.
In 1910, African Americans were fleeing northward by the tens of thousands, seeking to escape the brutal oppression of the Jim Crow South. They arrived in northern cities to find only the most menial of jobs available to them, limited educational opportunities and substandard housing. Ruth Standish Baldwin , the socially-conscious widow of a railroad magnate, and Dr. George Edmund Hayes, a prominent social worker, founded the Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes to help these freedom-seekers from the south adapt to life in the city.
Today, 100 years later, the National Urban League’s commitment to social justice and equality has not dimmed. At the dawn of our second century, we are leading the civil rights movement into a new era, using cutting-edge technology to call on every American to commit themselves to achieving four empowerment goals by 2025:
Every American child is ready for college, work and life
Every American has access to jobs with a living wage and good benefits
Every American lives in safe, decent, affordable and energy efficient housing on fair terms.
Every American has access to quality and affordable health care solutions.
While the fundamental mission of the National Urban League hasn’t changed much in 100 years, Mrs. Baldwin and Dr. Hayes could never have dreamed of our methods. Our initiative, I AM EMPOWERED is centered on a first-of-its-kind social mobilization platform. The I AM EMPOWERED SMP is a vast, interactive web community that uses 21st century technology to unite people from all walks of life with the Urban League, its affiliates, coalition of supporters and one another in one location. Members can access information, services and to engage to advance the cause of equality 24 hours a day, seven days week in real time, online.
I invite all Americans to become a part of this special community and take the I AM EMPOWERED pledge at www.iamempowered.com. Individuals also can text EMPOWER to 69866 or download the IAE mobile application, available at the Apple App Store, Android Market and coming soon, the Blackberry App World, to take the pledge.
The National Urban League may be 100 years old, but we don’t have any gray hair. We are more energetic, more focused and more determined than ever before to create a level playing field in our nation, especially as minorities are disproportionately suffering from the effects of a battered economy. The I AM EMPOWERED initiative not only strives to galvanize a nation to serve others, but positions the National Urban League in the right place to connect with more people and to serve urban communities better in the 21st century and beyond.
By texting EMPOWER to 96866, signing the pledge at www.iamempowered.com, or by downloading the mobile application, every American can become part of this exciting and significant movement.
WATCH MARC MORIAL DISCUSS THE ‘I AM EMPOWERED’ CAMPAIGN WITH MSNBC’S TAMRON HALL:
Marc Morial is president and CEO of the National Urban League. The NUL is a sponsor of theGrio.com