Reflections on the National Urban League’s Path to Power – Part IV


National Urban LeagueChairman, John D. Hofmeister and Rev. Jesse Jackson. (Photo: Shelia Hester-Whorton)

Chicago, IL–(ENEWSPF)– On Friday, the Conference concluded with CNN & Essence’s “Reclaiming the Dream,” held at the Chicago Theater and hosted by Soledad O’Brien. The program focused on debates about the Black community in topics including, self-responsibility, social reform, education, etc. The program highlighted radio personality, actor, and author Steve Harvey and his “Mentoring Weekend” program. During the Father’s Day weekend, his foundation, with corporate sponsorship provided young African American males with two days of fun, activities, and mentorship. Attendees were given hair cuts, learned home improvement skills, learned how to tie ties, and provided a forum for expressing themselves

Saturday brought the last day of workshops, career fair, and the end of the National Urban League’s Conference.

The morning started with the Urban League’s family breakfast sponsored by Denny’s. Senator Dick Durbin welcomed the guest on behalf of the State of Illinois. Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. was the keynote speaker. Shari Addison of BET’s Sunday Best, provided the guests with music of worship and praise. The breakfast also welcomed new leaders to the League and honored leaders of recent past.

Workshops “Surviving and Thriving: Empowering Your Business to the Next Level,” “Creating an endless supply of customers with effective selling skills,” and “Business Resources,” provided small business owners with a vast about of information relating to reaching and retaining customers, and the resources available to assist in business development. These resources include the Small Business Administration (SBA), and SCORE, a non-profit organization that partners with the SBA to assist entrepreneurs in education and business development activities.

The career fair hosted by the Centene Corporation (McDonalds), included nearly 100 business, agencies, and non-profit organizations. Exhibitors included volunteers Mary Lou McDowell and Delores Truss, both members of the Leaguers of the Chicago League. The Leaguers of the Chicago Urban League was establish fifty-five years ago to assist the league in fundraising; perpetuate the Chicago Urban League’s (CUL), policies and programs; solicit memberships and volunteers for the CUL’s activities; and interest the community in the CUL’s work.

The conference concluded Saturday evening with the Whitney M. Young Jr. Awards Gala. John D. Hofmeister, Chairman, of the Natonal Urban League, presided over the black-tie event. Honorees included Chicago Mayor, Richard M. Daley; Former Illinois Senator, Emil Jones Jr.; Former Labor Secretary, Alexis M. Herman; Chairman & CEO of B&C Associates, Robert J. Brown; and TV host, model, and entertainment executive, Tyra Banks.

Daley’s many accomplishments as mayor include, closing a $1.8 billion deficit in the education system and investing more than $4 billion in capital improvements in schools creating a business assistance program to support local companies and spur neighborhood development, and introducing a landmark ordinance in 1990 guaranteeing 25 percent of all city contracts to minority-owned businesses and five percent to women-owned businesses.

Former State Senator Emil Jones retired from the General Assembly in January of this year after 36 years. As a champion of working families, he passed legislation to double the personal exemption on the state income tax. He helped increase the State minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.50 per hour in 2003. In 2006, he passed an increase that would bring the minimum wage to $8.25 by 2010. He was also instrumental in increasing per-pupil spending statewide and directing millions of State dollars to disadvantage classrooms.

At the age of 29, Alexis M. Herman became the youngest director of the Women’s Bureau in United States Department of Labor history. She made history again in 1997 when she became the first African American labor secretary. She has also served on the National Economic Council. As labor secretary, Herman consolidated the department’s skills development programs and launched an aggressive youth employment initiative. U.S. unemployment fell to 3.9 percent and workplace safety reached its highest level in department history.

Robert J. Brown serves as a member of the boards of Wachovia Corporation, Duke Energy Corporation, Sonoco Products Company, and AutoNation, Inc. In 1960, he found B&C Associates, a management consulting marketing research and public relations firm. As a strong supporter of youth, education, and non-violent programs, Brown serves on several boards and commission addressing the youth related issues.


Tyra Banks receives Living Legend Award. (Photo: Shelia Hester-Whorton)

As one of the most popular figures in media, Tyra Banks has been listed among the Hollywood Reporter’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Entertainment. is a long-time youth advocate. Forbes also has ranked her No. 1 on its list of top-earning women in prime-time TV. Her many accomplishments include the first African American model to be featured on the cover of GQ and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. In 2003 she created, executive-produced and hosted America’s Top Model, which is now seen in more than 100 countries. In 2005 she premiered the Tyra Banks show which covers topics from body image to politics. Her show maintains the youngest audience in daytime TV. Banks is a longtime youth advocate.

With the ending of the gala wards, the National Urban League’s 2009 Conference also came to an end, and switched its gear to next year’s centennial conference.

In the final article, we will highlight Corporate Sponsor – Centene, provide alarming statistics about the state of health in the African American community, and look at the future of the National Urban League as it begins to prepare for its Centennial year.

The National Urban League was established 99 years ago with the mission to enable African Americans to secure economic self reliance, parity, power and civil rights. The National Urban League was originally named the Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes, and established on September 29th, 1910 in New York City. For more information about the National Urban League visit www. For 92 years the Chicago Urban League has been a leader in promoting sustainable change in the African American community through education, advocacy, research, and civic engagement in the Chicago land area .For more information about the Chicago Urban League Conference visit www.changeyoucansee.com.