Monday, July 31, 2017

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: July 31, 1921 – Whitney M. Young, Jr.

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From The Kentucky Encyclopedia –
Whitney Moore Young, Jr., civil rights leader, son of Laura (Ray) and Whitney M. Young, Sr., was born at Lincoln Ridge, Shelby County, Kentucky, on July 31, 1921. His father was an instructor at and later president of Lincoln Institute, in Shelby County. Young graduated from Lincoln Institute as valedictorian in 1936. In 1940 he received a premedical degree from Kentucky State College (now Kentucky State University), graduating at the head of his class. Young then taught mathematics and coached at Rosenwald High School in Madisonville. In 1941 he enlisted in the army and was sent to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studied electrical engineering for two years. He then became a first sergeant in the 369th Regiment Anti- Aircraft Artillery Group. While serving in this all-black unit under white officers, Young decided to make race relations his life's work.

Denied admission to the
University of Kentucky, Young attended the University of Minnesota during 1944-47 and helped organize a chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality. After he received a master's degree in social work, he went to work for the Urban League chapter in St. Paul, Minnesota, as director of industrial relations. He was promoted to president of the chapter in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1950 and served until 1954. In January 1954 he moved to Atlanta University to become the dean of the School of Social Work, a position he held until he became executive director of the National Urban League on August 1, 1961.

As director, Young guided the Urban League away from traditional social work and into more progressive programs. An advocate of equal employment opportunity, improved housing, and education as the means for social and economic equality for blacks, Young drew upon corporate, government, and foundation support to advance the league's programs. His goal was economically strong black communities that would be integrated into the general society through nonviolent direct action and political lobbying.

During the 1960s, Young emerged as a national leader of the civil rights movement. He served on seven presidential commissions during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations (1961-69) and was president of both the National Conference on Social Welfare and the National Association of Social Workers. He wrote a syndicated weekly newspaper column. His book To Be Equal (1964) called for a " domestic Marshall Plan" to deal with black poverty, and in Beyond Racism: Building an Open Society (1969), Young outlined sweeping programs to create an egalitarian society. He started the "New Thrust" program of the Urban League in 1968 to move into ghettos to attack the causes of minority deprivation, inadequate housing, poor health, and educational disadvantage; he did not want to focus on the symptomatic statistics of joblessness. Young was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1969 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Young married Margaret Buckner of
Campbellsville, Kentucky, on January 2, 1944. She became a teacher and an author of children's books about black history and civil rights. They had two children, Marcia and Laurene.

Young died in Lagos, Nigeria, on March 11, 1971, in a swimming accident while attending a conference to increase understanding between races. He was buried in
Lexington's Greenwood Cemetery; later the body was reburied in New Rochelle, New York.

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:

Dickerson, D., University Press of Kentucky, & NetLibrary, Inc. (1998). Militant mediator : Whitney M. Young, Jr. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.
Young Library   Books - 4th Floor   E185.97.Y635 D53 1998

Young, W., & Baker, T. (2004). Interview of Whitney M. Young, Jr. by Thomas Baker, June 18, 1969. Austin, TX: Lyndon Baines Johnson Library.

Young, W. (1969). Beyond racism; building an open society (1st ed.]. ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Young Library   Books - 4th Floor   E185.615 .Y6  

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