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Whitney Young
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Advocate
    (July 31, 1921-March 11, 1971)
    Born in Shelby County, Kentucky
    Civil rights activist
    Executive director of the National Urban League (1961-71)
    Wrote 'To Be Equal' (1964) and 'Beyond Racism' (1969)
    Received the Presidential Medal Freedom (1969)
    Drowned while swimming in Lagos, Nigeria, where he was attending an African-American Institute conference
    He advocated preferential treatment for blacks in employment.
    Black Power leaders considered him an Uncle Tom.
    The Presidential Medal of Freedom he received from Lyndon Johnson may have had as much to do with his public support for the Vietnam War as his civil rights work.
    He started speaking out against the Vietnam War only after LBJ was out of office.
    He graduated from the Lincoln Institute as valedictorian.
    He said he got his start in race relations during WWII when he was promoted to sergeant and mediated between white officers and black soldiers to improve conditions in the unit.
    He negotiated with scores of businesses to end discriminatory hiring practices.
    He said about the criticism by radicals, 'I think to myself, should I get off this train and stand on 125th Street cussing out Whitey to show I am tough? Or should I go downtown and talk to an executive of General Motors about 2,000 jobs for unemployed Negroes?'
    President Richard Nixon sent a plane to Nigeria to bring his body home and delivered the eulogy at his funeral, saying 'He knew how to accomplish what other people were merely for.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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