Whitney Young (1921-1971) was a civil rights activist. Young was born in Shelby County, Kentucky. His father was the president of the Lincoln Institute in Lincoln Ridge, Kentucky. His mother, Laura Young, was the first African American postmistress in Kentucky (a woman in charge of the post office; the term is seldom used today). He earned his BS from Kentucky State University, a historically black university. His experiences during World War II led him to a career in race relations; as a first sergeant he witnessed the racial tension first-hand as he had to mediate between African American soldiers and Southern white officers. Following World War II, Young became the Executive Director of the National Urban League (NUL) and led the organization through its most prosperous period by transforming the NUL from a relatively passive civil rights organization into a more aggressive force in the civil rights movement.
Image: Original caption: Whitney M. Young, Jr., executive director of the National Urban League, reads a statement condemning the racial violence sweeping the country as unjustified during a news conference here July 26th. Aside from Young, the statement was also signed by three other civil rights leaders: Roy Wilkins, A. Phillip Randolph, and Martin Luther King. July 26, 1967. Copyright: Bettmann/Corbis.