BOSTON – Much like its civil rights comrade the NAACP, the National Urban League is being asked if it is still a relevant institution as it just crosses over the century mark in existence.
As the NUL conducts its annual conference and exhibition in New England for the first time in nearly four decades under the leadership of president Marc Morial and chairman John Hofmeister, the subject of how effective the organization is at providing training and helping reduce employment was raised among the conventioneers.
Here is a sampling of what respondents had to say:
Magnus Greaves, co-founder, 100 Urban Entrepreneurs: “Working with the Urban League has been an honor. With their emphasis on jobs, it just gave us a chance to showcase our organization. When those people are up there, they are entrepreneurs, creating jobs for themselves. And if we do our jobs right [in terms of mentoring and guidance], they will be creating jobs for other people as well. I think that it’s important to have very actionable takeaways, which is what you get at the Urban League.”
Lucas Riggins, co-founder, 100 Urban Entrepreneurs: “Going to many other conferences is frustrating because I have all this information, but no one can point me in the direction to get funding. The Urban League, therefore, is still relevant. I think that the Urban League is on the cutting edge.”
Kofi Frimpong, owner, GZ Points: “The Urban League is incredibly relevant. The workshops that I have gone to, I have learned so much. I’m not going to lie to you: I have gone to other conferences. I learned very vague things that you could learn anywhere. But here I got specifics. I learned different aspects on how to start a company, how to grow a company, how to market a company, etc. The workshops were incredible. If you are an entrepreneur or have an entrepreneurial spirit, you should definitely consider going to the the Urban League convention.”
Doreen Wade, owner, New England Informer: “Do I think the Urban League is relevant? After this week, no I do not. Before this week? I think what the Urban League is trying to do is good, but how they are implementing it is not.”
Veronica Chapman, owner, My Crowning Jewel: “Actually, when I got out of Spelman, [I noticed] that we didn’t have a Young Professionals guild in New Jersey, my hometown. So I joined their guild and it was a great experience because at that time I was producing a play and I needed someone to back it and they backed it. And through that play I was able to raise a lot of money for that Urban League guild. And the conference has been great because I’ve gotten a lot of information that I can use for this business and make it successful and learn the tools that I need to know in that effort. Unfortunately, kids today don’t even know their own history and the Urban League is a part of that history.”
Endura Govan, businesswoman and entrepreneur: “Yes, the Urban League is still relevant, because the same problems that existed when it was initiated over 101 years ago … after a century, we are still dealing with those issues. So as long as we’re still dealing with the initial problems, the Urban League is definitely still relevant. They still have to be a voice for the underserved and those who are looked over who don’t have a voice.”
Pam Perry, owner and founder, Pam Perry PR: “Yes, it is between the young and the old. They have brought in issues that are current. The Young Professionals, from what I’ve witnessed, they have been on point. They are the generation that is really going to make a difference. I attended their town hall meeting and they really understand, in term of jobs, what they and we need to do. There was one session about jobs that tripped me out. They showed people how to get jobs today that are not the norm, things that are under the radar. Everyone can go onto Monster.com, but they showed and demonstrated how to get jobs on social media. That’s relevant because 80 percent of the people in the room did not know these tricks, tips and secrets. That’s like the Urban League prize right there, because [the organization] is all about employment and jobs. They had a session on finance, on how to market your business. Again, they were showing things that you typically don’t hear. They have this conference where they think it through, [asking] ‘what do our people need?’ And then they bring it.”