Happy Birthday, Whitney Young! 

U.S. #1875 – Young was the fourth honoree in the Black Heritage Series.

Civil rights leader Whitney Moore Young, Jr., was born on July 31, 1921, in Shelby County, Kentucky.

Young’s father was president of the Lincoln Institute, an all African American boarding school, and also served as president of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association. His mother was teacher and the first female postmistress in Kentucky.

Young attended the Lincoln Institute and graduated as valedictorian in 1937. He attended Kentucky State University where he played on the basketball team and was voted president of his senior class. During World War II Young worked on a road construction crew of African American soldiers that were supervised by Southern white officers. The tensions he witnessed there led him to pursue a career in race relations.

After the war, Young got a masters degree in social work and joined the National Urban League. By 1950, he was president of the Omaha, Nebraska, chapter. There he helped African American workers get jobs that were previously only given to white people. His tenure also saw membership triple.

U.S. #1875 FDC – Young Silk Cachet Combination First Day Cover.

In the coming years, Young served as dean of social work at Atlanta University and joined the United Liberal Church, which he helped to integrate. He also received a Rockefeller Foundation grant and joined the NAACP, where he befriended Roy Wilkins.

U.S. #3501 – Roy Wilkins was the 24th honoree in the Black Heritage Series.

In 1961, Young was unanimously voted to become Executive Director of the National Urban League. During his first four years, Young expanded the number of employees from 38 to 1,600 and increased the annual budget from $325,000 to $6.1 million. Young also pushed for the organization to be more aggressive in its goals. He started new programs to help high school dropouts prepare for college and to aid local African American leaders to address problems in their communities. Young also pushed for major companies to hire more African Americans and served as president of the National Association of Social Workers.

U.S. #4804 was issued for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Young helped organize the 1963 March on Washington and was an advisor to Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. But he refused an offer for a cabinet post, believing he could do more good with the Urban League. Young was especially close with President Johnson, who awarded him a presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969.

In 1971, Young was in Lagos, Nigeria, for a conference when he suffered a sudden heart attack and died on March 11. President Nixon delivered the eulogy at his funeral stating that Young, “knew how to accomplish what other people were merely for.”

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  1. Very interesting information to learn about this man & his life.. I do not recall of ever hearing about Whitney Young.
    I especially like the part of This day in history: President Nixon delivered the eulogy at his funeral stating that Young, “knew how to accomplish what other people were merely for.”.
    I interpret this to mean, deeds, action and example is much more valuable than words.

  2. Thank-you for sending me the above. I am ashamed to say I had never heard of Mr. Young. He did amazing things during his life. What a shame he died so young.

    How do I go about getting his stamp and the Forever Stamp of the 1963 March on Washington?

    1. Just click on the image and that will take you to the Mystic page where you can buy the stamp.

    2. Just click on the stamp images in this article and you will be taken directly to a Mystic Stamp order page. You can buy them there.

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