Our Milestones

1910 The National Urban League is established in New York City as a result of the First Great Migration of African-Americans from the segregated South to the industries of the North for better opportunities.

1917 The establishment of the Boston Urban League by founder Eugene Kinckle Jones, an organizer for the National Urban League, focusing on finding housing, jobs and healthcare. Local activist Butler Wilson and a group of concerned citizens aided Jones in the progression of the Boston Urban League. Mr. Wilson also help found the Boston branch of the NAACP, a civil rights organization formed, triggered by the Supreme Court decision Plessy vs. Ferguson, to end racial discrimination.

1919 The Boston Urban League becomes an affiliate of the National Urban League.

1920 Matthew Washington Bullock becomes the first Director of the Boston Urban League during a time of political backlash and violence against African-Americans; a Massachusetts State Representative.

1926 The Boston Urban League lobbied on behalf of Bostonians in need of work, negotiating 800 jobs.

1927 The Boston Urban League negotiates 1,157 more jobs for Bostonians in need of work.

1929 George Goodman, President of the Boston Urban League, lobbies with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and National Youth Administration to place workers in jobs as a result of protests regarding unemployment rates during the Depression rising from 15 to 18% in the South End and Roxbury.

1942 The Boston Urban League and the NAACP place the first African-American worker in the munition plant, Raytheon in Newton, a result of the efforts of A. Phillip Randolph, President Roosevelt signed an executive order banning discrimination in munition plants.

1945 Cynthia Belgrave, as a result of the Boston Urban League scoring significant breakthroughs for African-American women, became the first African-American clerk to work downtown in a major department store.

1960 Under Whitney Young’s leadership, the National Urban League decides to take a more aggressive stance with the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, holding meetings with A. Phillip Randolph and Martin Luther King Jr. in the planning of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

1963 Whitney Young addresses 250,000 protestors at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom at the Lincoln Memorial, August 28, 1963.

1967 Under the leadership of Mel King, who also became Boston’s first Black mayoral candidate, the Urban League continued the spirit of change with a more activist stance within the community influencing grassroots organizers to help tenants fight for urban renewal; supported a new generation of African-American political candidates; and, worked with parents to desegregate Boston schools.

1969 Urban League of Boston confronted with how to extrapolate funds from the United Fund without other community agency representation, successfully changed funding to go directly into the community.

1980-1990 Boston Urban League expands its Youth Program as African-American life expectancy declined for the first time in U.S. history with homicide becoming the leading cause of death with African-American males 15-24yrs of age; emphasis on young people included mentoring, case management, individual counseling and job training.

1992 To avoid the rioting and carnage developing within major cities in response to the Los Angeles Police beating of Rodney King, the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts strategically listed demands giving the community “a voice.” The Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts helped Boston through one of the most challenging episodes in American history.

2001 Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts welcomes Darnell Williams as its 20th President and CEO.

2011 Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, under the leadership of Darnell Williams, hosted the National Urban League Conference in Boston, MA, after a 35-year absence. State of Black Boston was also launched.

2012 Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts hosts it second State of Black Boston Forum “Ending Health Inequalities for Families in Boston”, Oct. 1, 2012 at The Dimock Center.  

2013 President Darnell Williams is propelled into the National Urban League as a member of the National Board of Trustees and leading CEO of Urban League Executives from around the country.

2016 Darnell Williams celebrates 15 years of serving as President and CEO and is recognized as the longest sitting President and CEO of Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts.