Hartford Urban League Celebrates 50 Years
Urban League Celebrates 50 Years of Community Service
“Looking Back and Marching Forward” – Thirman Milner Speaks
By Jocelyne Hudson-Brown / Inquiring News
HARTFORD – 2014 marks the 50th year that the (National) Urban League has been in existence. It also marks 50 years since the Civil Rights Act was signed. The Urban League was one of the civil right organizations that sat at the table on that historic day.
The Urban League (UL) is the oldest and largest community-based organization of its kind in the nation. Adrienne W. Cochrane has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer the Greater Hartford branch since 2010.
Looking back on the history of the Greater Hartford Urban League, former Hartford Mayor Thirman Milner (the first African-American ever to be elected mayor in a New England city) is very familiar with the work of the UL recalls, “My involvement in politics began with the civil rights movement where I marched and demonstrated with Dr. Martin Luther King and some of the early people in the UL in Hartford.” Bill Brown was one of those people.
Milner spoke in glowing terms of Bill Brown (calling him Mr. Urban League) and the great work he did on behalf of the City of Hartford. He remembers Brown’s involvement in calming the city when the civil rights riots began. His focus on GED’s and job training and making resources available for those that needed such.
“The Urban League is even more relevant today than it was yesterday because what has happened is that we seem to have lost focus with our organizations. What we forget is that these organizations have set the pace for America for many, many years. In my day they were the focus of our community. They were the organizations that kept in touch with education and economic empowerment.” said Milner.
Moving forward the question becomes “How can the UL encourage more public involvement?” Milner’s answer is quick “I think the young people don’t realize the impact groups like the NAACP and the UL had on us when we were younger. I just did not fly out of the sky and become mayor. I became mayor because people like Bill Brown taught me and encouraged me in my younger days. I think the younger African-American leadership can focus on that. These leaders are the ones who are going to have to focus on rebuilding the base and inspiring and encouraging the young people and bring them around.”
“All-in-all we are doing better as a country than we were in 1964. But there is still a lot more work to be done.” Milner reminds us.
The mission of the UL is “To promote the self-empowerment of individuals in the Connecticut Capital Region to achieve educational, occupational and economic equality for themselves and their families.” To take part in the many UL activities all you have to do is get involved. To contact the Urban League of Greater Hartford call 860.527.0147.
Jocelyne Hudson-Brown is an award winning journalist and a longtime correspondent for the Inquiring News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org