Former Hartford Urban League Presidents Speak

August 18, 2014 at 15:49


Former Hartford Fire Chief John Steward with Al Rogers, both former Urban League Presidents of Hartford Urban League. Photo by Reggie Hales

Former Hartford Fire Chief John Steward with Al Rogers, both former Urban League Presidents of Hartford Urban League. Photo by Reggie Hales

Urban League Celebrates 50 Years of Community Service

Former Hartford Urban League Presidents Speak


HARTFORD – (By Jocelyne Hudson-Brown / Inquiring News) – 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the (National) Urban League. “Looking Back, Marching Forward” is the theme of the commemoration.

The Urban League (UL) is the oldest and largest community-based organization of its kind in the United States. Adrienne W. Cochrane has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Hartford branch since 2010.

Past UL leaders John Stewart and Alfred Rogers reunited at the Woodland St. headquarters to reminisce. They are men of honor, who like many of their generation survived their own personal and professional struggles and against all odds they succeeded. For some that would have been enough, but for them it was just as important to uplift as many members of their community as they could.

They initiated and managed programs that secured jobs and job training, promoted economic development for businesses, brought about education and housing initiatives while promoting family services. At the same time they were constantly pounding the pavement to obtain the funding for such.

They also lived through times when racial tensions were high and cities burned. Rogers says “Hartford has been very fortunate in they have had a business community that has responded quite favorably to situations that have a tendency to explode like what we are seeing in St. Louis. (Ferguson, Mo.)  It is only when different business leaders are made aware of the different problems that affect the stability of the (whole) community that they have a tendency to respond.”

In addition to looking back and reflecting on the past, part of any anniversary celebration is making plans for the future. Marching forward Stewart says, “We are better prepared today as the Urban League to be able to seek out the corporate world to begin to help them see things different. Different from the point of view that they have to create and generate and institute the work sites for people today who are struggling.”

Both agree the future of the UL will rely on reacquainting with the communities that the organization serves and strengthening ties as they prepare to move forward in the next 50 years.

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

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