UPS Longitudes | Pursuing a More Equitable World

Marc Morial @ National Urban League
Dec 24, 2020 11:00 AM ET


Deadly disease; economic hardship; racial unrest — the United States is living through a triple pandemic. For more than a century, the National Urban League has been an economic first responder, helping families through their most trying crises. Now, in this triple pandemic, we’re rising to the challenge with urgency, expertise and deep compassion.

The National Urban League launched in 1910 in response to the Great Migration, which saw millions of African Americans flee white supremacy in the South in search of opportunity in the cities of the North. Since then, the organization and its 90 affiliates have strived continuously to build a more equitable world.

Having fought for racial reforms through two World Wars, a Great Depression and a Great Recession, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and countless local catastrophes and downturns, there are two things we know for sure: Crisis hits some communities harder than others, and solid public-private partnerships can help soften the blow.

“There are two things we know for sure: Crisis hits some communities harder than others, and solid public-private partnerships can help soften the blow.”

Giving a voice to suffering

When the coronavirus pandemic first hit the U.S., the National Urban League sounded the alarm on racial disparity in public health and economic consequences.

Immediately, our network of affiliates mobilized to serve as distribution points for food and emergency supplies, testing centers and clearinghouses to help suddenly jobless workers secure desperately needed frontline jobs.

The 2020 edition of the National Urban League’s signature annual report on the economic status of African Americans, The State of Black America, Unmasked, details how racial disparity in the impact of the pandemic and economic crisis influenced protests for racial justice following the death of George Floyd.

As leaders in Washington debated responses to the triple pandemic, the National Urban League gave a voice to those who were suffering the most, working closely with members of Congress to direct aid to the Black businesses that sustain urban communities.

Even as the movement mobilized in response to unprecedented and unforeseen events, the National Urban League maintained focus on its core programs and campaigns. Initiatives such as the Urban Tech Jobs Program and Urban Youth Empowerment Program are placing hundreds of thousands of people in family-sustaining jobs.

Our educational programs — Project ReadyRead and Rise and No Ceilings on Success — support at-home learning to keep students on a path to academic success. Urban League housing counseling and foreclosure prevention have helped more than 130,000 families buy or keep their homes, and emergency assistance has prevented devastating evictions.

“With support from leading businesses like UPS, the National Urban League is helping communities devastated by a novel coronavirus and ongoing systematic inequalities.”

With support from leading businesses like UPS — a supporter of the National Urban League since 1962 — we’re helping communities devastated by a novel coronavirus and ongoing systematic inequalities.

From access to supply chain expertise to business training and counseling, The UPS Foundation’s more than $24 million in funding supports existing needs for small and medium-sized businesses — and helps them build resilience for what’s next.

Uplifting Black communities

The National Urban League was concerned about representation in the 2020 Census well before the pandemic disrupted it. So, we revived Make Black Count, a campaign first launched in 1970 by the legendary civil rights leader Whitney Young to mobilize communities to participate in the decennial count.

The voter engagement and education campaign, Reclaim Your Vote: From Protest to Power, is fighting to make every vote count and transforming the passion of the racial justice movement into lasting change. We also applaud UPS’s launch of a companywide voting awareness and civic engagement initiative in early September.

As the nation emerges from this triple pandemic, we’ll continue our tireless work to uplift Black communities — and welcome partners like UPS in our pursuit of a more just, inclusive and equitable world.

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