Chicago Freedom Movement

Fulfilling the Dream

Chicago Urban League

The Chicago Urban League was founded in 1917 as a branch of the National Urban League. Originally, it “assisted migrants in locating employment and housing and helped them to adjust to northern urban life by dispensing information on schools, public transportation, and codes of behavior.” [Organizing Black America, 140]

With Bill Berry as its head, the Chicago Urban League became one of the “most dynamic Urban League chapters in the country,” [Ralph 10] and played an important role in organizing the Chicago Freedom Movement. Berry and the Chicago Urban League were leading figures in the founding of the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCC0). The Chicago Urban League, by its charter, could not be a protest organization, and was viewed as one of the conservative CCCO affiliates. Nevertheless, with its skilled staff and ties to Chicago’s business community, it offered a wide range of resources to the CCCO and the Chicago Freedom Movement. Many of the critical strategy sessions of the Chicago Freedom Movement’s leadership took place at the Urban League’s offices on the city’s South Side. Berry himself was also a member of the movement’s agenda committee.

The Chicago Urban League was represented at the Summit negotiations by Berry, who was a skilled negotiator and demanded immediate remedies to the fair-housing problem. The Urban League wanted to make sure that long-lasting institutional change resulted from the Chicago Freedom Movement.

The Chicago Urban League today remains an active force in providing opportunity for inner-city residents.

The Chicago Urban League continues to be active in the struggle for civil rights and the advancement of African Americans in Chicago.

Further Resources:
Avarh E. Strickland, “History of the Chicago Urban League”


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