The National Urban League was founded in 1910. The Civil War between North and South had ended forty-five years before, but the country was still deeply divided. Most former slaves remained locked in a system of political powerlessness and economic inequality. The new organization set two major goals - remove barriers to racial equality and achieve economic empowerment for the country’s Negro citizens.
Slavery had been abolished in 1865 by the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution. The 14th and 15th amendments went further and guaranteed equal treatment to Negroes and gave Negro men the right to vote.
Despite these Constitutional protections, the civil war continued to rage in the hearts and minds of white Southerners. They were resigned to the abolition of slavery but were not willing to accept either social change or political domination by former slaves.
Many former slaves opted to migrate and moved north to find a better life. By 1910, the Negro population had increased dramatically in urban areas of the North, and with the population explosion, a new set of problems emerged.
Two people stepped forward at this time to provide leadership — one Negro, one white; one man, one woman — and together, they founded the National Urban League. Their names were Ruth Standish Baldwin and George Edmund Haynes. The multiracial character of the Urban League that they established still exists today.