Whitney Young was one of the most notable figures of the Civil Rights Movement, but hasn’t enjoyed the same manner of fanfare as his contemporaries for various reasons. The Kentucky native was born July 31, 1921.

Young was born in Shelby County to middle-class parents, and attended Kentucky State University for his undergraduate studies. The Alpha man graduated from the HBUC in 1941 with aspirations of becoming a doctor, and he went into military service where he began to employ his gift at smoothing over tensions between Black and white people. After World War II, Young eventually became the president of the Omaha, Neb. National Urban League and helped Black workers gain jobs typically reserved for whites.

In 1961, Young became the National Urban League’s executive director and served as its president until passing in 1971 after he drowned while swimming with friends in Lagos, Nigeria.

Although Young promoted worker equality for Black Americans, his critics believed he was too willing to compromise with white politicians and businessmen. For Young, he was more concerned with advancing policy and his people advancing without loud protest versus being seen as a hero of the movement.


Young was 49 at the time of his passing.

PHOTO: Public Domain


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