On Nov. 6, Hugh Price announced his resignation as President of the National Urban League. His statement included, “There is never a good time to leave the job of a lifetime. On Nov. 6, Hugh Price announced his resignation as President of the National Urban League. His statement included, “There is never a good time to leave the job of a lifetime. But after nearly nine rewarding and intense years, I think it is time for me to seek a new professional challenge and for the board to enlist fresh leadership for the 21st Century.”
In a nine-page letter to the 112 CEO’s of Urban League affiliates across the country, Price outlined what his leadership had produced over the past nine years. He brought about a myriad of structural changes that revamped out-dated practices, broadened board membership, strengthened the Movement’s research capacity, stabilized funding for the organization, and fortified the relationship with affiliates.
Most importantly, Price was the driving force behind a clearly-stated strategic direction for the Urban League as a national movement. The agenda calls for:
Ensuring that our children are well-educated and equipped for economic self-reliance in the 21st Century
Helping adults attain economic self-sufficiency through good jobs, homeownership, entrepreneurship and wealth accumulation
Ensuring our civil rights by eradicating barriers to the economic and social mainstream
The Urban League Movement has a dual mission to provide human services and advocacy for African Americans and other people of color. Other organizations concentrate on service or advocacy. The Urban League is unique in devoting itself to both endeavors.
There is an internal struggle inherent in having a dual mission. Advocacy and direct services compete for the resources of talent, time, energy, funding and good will. Some efforts make a difference in the lives of individuals or families; other activities have the potential to reach all African Americans. It is the responsibility of the leadership, both nationally and locally, to find the balance that best fits the current environment. We may see the effects of having this dual mission play out as the National Urban League’s search committee moves through the process of identifying a successor to Hugh Price.
As I think about the resignation of Hugh Price and the wonderful legacy he will leave, human nature forces me to think about my own legacy because, for better or for worse, we all produce one. I hope mine will be one of building this community, of moving it forward, of leaving it better off than when I first encountered it twenty years ago.