Urban League celebrates 100 years with open house

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After two years in their new location, Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh threw an open house to show off their facilities and remind the public of the services they offer. The event on Sept. 29 also commemorated the 100th anniversary of the national Urban League.

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HISTORY THROUGH ART—Artist Leslie Ansley reflects on her mural with Esther Bush. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

“We are celebrating 100 years of the national Urban League movement and for Pittsburgh 92 years of being an affiliate,” said Urban League President and CEO, Esther Bush. “It’s 100 years of a beautiful, long legacy. A legacy that has tried to help the African-American community develop into its own as Americans. As we look back at the past 100 years, through the Civil Rights Movement, I am very proud.”

Since the Urban League moved into its new facility at the corner of Liberty and Wood streets, Downtown, they have served more than 60,000 people. Bush also explained that her branch earned a perfect five out of five on a recent performance review conducted by the National Urban League.

“The Urban Leagues of Pittsburgh provides traditional services that the national Urban League provides. We really are a team. This Urban League is one of the top affiliates in the country,” Bush said. “I am very proud to be the president and CEO of an Urban League that is doing great things for its people and it’s mostly because of the partnerships we have.”

Still after listing her branch’s many accomplishments Bush highlighted the still dire conditions in Pittsburgh’s African-American community, with unemployment at the top of the list. She also touched on a recent U.S. Census Bureau report that showed the Pittsburgh region has the highest rate of poverty among working-age African-Americans of any of the 40 largest metropolitan regions in the country.

“When we look at the African-American community in Pittsburgh, our statistics are not something we should be proud of at all,” Bush said.

The new facilities come complete with a slew of conference rooms and private counseling rooms. Their services include education and youth development; employment, training and economic empowerment; family growth and child development; housing; and research, public policy and community development.

“It’s a special anniversary and a special time for our local chapter,” said James Barnes, Urban League board chairman. “This move was put together rather rapidly. We knew we needed a new space and we’re rather pleased with it. It’s user friendly and it provides a very professional space for us to serve our clients.”

Former Urban League President Leon Haley was impressed with the facilities as he took a tour during the open house. He was also happy to celebrate his beloved organization’s anniversary at the closing reception in the Cultural Trust

“My wife and I were remarking that the facilities are very beautiful, very accommodating and sufficient and of course the art work just adds to it,” Haley said.

“The durability and the stability of an organization that has been in the trenches fighting for the African-American community and the most visible organization working for African-Americans, is a testimony to the leadership. Particularly when you’re talking about an organization that is free and independent, it’s a great accomplishment.”

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