An educator, humanitarian, author and civil rights leader, Whitney M. Young, Jr. dedicated his life to the full participation of African Americans in the nation’s economic and political systems. For more than two decades, he led the National Urban League in its effort to improve the economic status of African Americans. Young accomplished this by working within the economic and political systems to achieve equal opportunities.
Young firmly believed that full participation of African Americans in the business community would ultimately strengthen the fiber of our society. His vision transcended the boundaries of our nation, as he foresaw the need to strengthen the critical link between the United States and the global economy. Young received his undergraduate degree from Kentucky State College. After a brief stint in the U.S. Army, he continued his formal education at the University of Minnesota, where he received a Master of Arts degree in Social Work. After obtaining this degree, Young accepted his first position with the National Urban League as the Director of Industrial Relations and Vocational Guidance in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1953, he took a brief hiatus from the Urban League to become the Dean of Atlanta University’s Graduate School of Social Work. Young served in that position until he was appointed as Executive Director of the National Urban League in 1961.
On March 11, 1971, Whitney M. Young, Jr. died while attending the African American Dialogue (a Conference held to strengthen the relationship between people of African descent throughout the Diaspora) in Lagos, Nigeria. Through the Conference, the African American community at The Wharton School acknowledges and memorializes the contributions and ideals of Whitney M. Young, Jr.