American Urban Radio Networks (AURN) Brian Cook was the only reporter there to get exclusive access to the three living Presidents of the civil rights group. He interviewed Marc Morial, the current President, along with Hugh Price, President and CEO from 1994-2003, and John Jacob, who was President and CEO from 1982-1994.
(l- r)- Brian Cook, Hugh Price, John Jacob, Marc Morial. The National Urban League held its centennial conference in Washington, DC.
Jacob told Brian, “Unfortunately I came into this position during the Ronald Reagan era. And Ronald Reagan led the attack on civil rights. You got to remember that when Ronald Reagan came into office, he challenged affirmative action. He challenged busing. And more importantly he ripped out of our budget more than $18 million that we had gotten from previous administrations. So what we were doing my tenure was rebuilding the organization, trying to get its finances strong enough so that we would be around for a hundred years. Fortunately we got lots of support in doing that. The Urban League is about us. The Urban League is about what we can do for ourselves.”
When asked 100 years from today what they would like the history books to say about them, Price said,
“I would like it to say that the Urban League movement at the grassroots level and at the national level closed that achievement gap, closed that wealth gap, closed that employment gap, that all the vital statistics of our well being have now matched society at large.”
Jacob added, “I’m sure that when George Haynes and Ruth Standish Baldwin formed this organization when we were defined as three fifths of a person and when you look at Marc’s (Morial) equality index that tells us today that we are about 72 percent. So we moved from three fifths of a person to three fourths of a person. That the next leg is to get us at parity with our counterparts in the broader community. And I think what you will see over the next hundred years is the chipping away at bringing parody to African Americans and people who are poor and in need throughout this country.”
“Amen.” That was the only response Morial said he had after he listened to the answers the past presidents gave to that question.