The idea to establish an Urban League Affiliate in Austin was merely a dream in late 1975 to a group of citizens representative of men and women of the total Austin Community – socially, racially, religiously, economically, and politically. It was in September of that year, when the group held the first of a series of meetings to develop their dream towards making an Urban League in Austin a reality.
Many questions could be raised relative to why the need for an Urban League was recognized. Many people could easily debate both the pros and cons; however, the primary decisions were based on the recognition of several facts related to the status of blacks and other minorities in Austin.
An examination of those facts revealed a disproportionate number of blacks and other minorities who were unemployed and underemployed, in need of adequate health care and decent housing, youth encountering problems in the educational arena, youth unemployment, etc. It was felt that an effective organization with the sole purpose of working toward enhancing the social and economic conditions of blacks and other minorities was needed to successfully attempt to address the concerns. After careful deliberations for possible alternatives, the National Urban League was identified as having a mission closely aligned with the dream of the group. Thus, the idea to establish an affiliate of the National Urban League in Austin was born.
In May 1976, the group of citizens, then known as the Austin Urban League Sponsoring Committee, was officially endorsed by the National Urban League, Inc. as “the legitimate citizens’ organization to solicit fiscal and in-kind support for the establishment of a National Urban League Affiliate in the City of Austin, Texas”. This official endorsement was only the beginning of the many, many hours committed and dedicated by members of the Urban League Sponsoring Committee.
“Although growth and success have been achieved at a tremendous rate, there is still much more work to be done.”
Between September 1976 and May 1977, while working to fulfill the requirements for affiliation with the National Urban League, the Austin Urban League Sponsoring Committee became incorporated by the State of Texas and applied for and received two program grants from the City of Austin to provide social services in areas of employment and housing. This marked only the beginning for the Austin Urban League in establishing itself as a credible organization capable of delivering social services to those in need. On November 1, 1976, Linda Faye Moore was hired by the Austin Urban League Sponsoring Committee as Activities Coordinator. In that capacity, she served as administrator of programmatic operations.
What was only a dream in September 1975 became a reality on May 25, 1977. It was at that time that the Austin Area Urban League was officially accepted as the 108th Urban League Affiliate of the National Urban League, Inc. The approval for acceptance was a unanimous vote of the National Urban League Board of Trustees at its meeting held in Louisville, Kentucky. The Austin Urban League was presented its Certificate of Affiliation on July 27, 1977 at the National Urban League Conference, which was held in Washington, D.C.
In May 1977, the first Board of Directors of the Austin Area Urban League, Inc. was elected. One month later, June 1977, the Board of Directors reclassified Ms. Moore’s position as Activities Coordinator to that of Executive Director. On August 12, 1977, an amendment was submitted to the Secretary of State Office to change the name of the organization from the Austin Urban League Sponsoring Committee to the Austin Area Urban League, Inc.
In 1977, the community watched the Austin Urban League grow from two persons, housed in a one-office facility in the basement of Wesley United Methodist Church, to a staff of 16 persons occupying an attractive two level office building in the East Austin Community. The organization’s level of services to the community grew from those minimal employment services, voter registration activities, GED preparation training, housing counseling and small home repairs to the current expanded employment placement services, workforce and technology training, programs in education, youth development, and emergency home repair. The Austin Urban League grew from a no name identification to an organization that is known for its holistic approach to community service for many minorities and disadvantaged citizens.
Although we can reflect with pride on the development and growth of the Austin Area Urban League, such would not have been possible had it not been for dedicated and committed individuals working diligently to create an organization to promote equal opportunities for blacks and other minorities in Austin. Although growth and success have been achieved at a tremendous rate, there is still much more work to be done.
Over the years, significant steps have been made in removing the early prejudices and barriers, thus allowing many of our constituents to learn, grow, and thrive in the Austin Community. The Urban League’s programming has been developed to maximize human potential. We have worked tirelessly to promote academic success for minority and disadvantaged youth, as well as parent enrichment, which promotes secure families.
“Although 40 years have passed since its inception, the Austin Area Urban League continues to hold true to its original mission: ‘to assist African Americans and disadvantaged citizens in the achievement of social and economic equality.’’’
We have promoted parental involvement, community education that encourages greater participation in our government’s decision-making, and a climate of appreciation, cooperation and tolerance for all citizens. We have provided supplemental youth education and nurtured self-sufficiency through workforce training, moving individuals from welfare to fairing well. We have trained several thousand clients in skills that meet employer demands and customer needs, including business technology. Lastly, we have completed emergency home repairs on thousands of owner-occupied residences, allowing senior citizens and low-income homeowners to maintain the integrity of their residences and enhance their quality of life.
Although 40 years have passed since its inception, the Austin Area Urban League continues to hold true to its original mission: “to assist African Americans and disadvantaged citizens in the achievement of social and economic equality.” Through direct delivery service and advocacy, the Austin Area Urban League provides programs in education, youth development, workforce training/ career development, and housing and emergency home repair. The mission, capsulated in the slogan “Building for Equal Opportunity,” is symbolized by the equal sign centered within a circle.
We thank each of you who have joined us the last 40 years – as volunteers, board members, funders, supporters, families, and many more. We look forward with anticipation to another 40 years, and we encourage your continued support, commitment, and participation in our commitment to “Building Equal Opportunity” in the community.
Rev. Freddie B. Dixon, Sr., President
Mrs. Shirley Shaw, Vice President
Dr. John Warfield, Secretary
Dr. Nelda Garcia, Assistant Secretary
Mr. Daniel B. Wimmer, Treasurer