This study traces the history of the Atlanta Urban League, a major southern affiliate of the National Urban League, from its founding in 1920 to the end of the 20th century. It shows how the Atlanta Urban League adhered to the primary functions of the national Urban League Movement by studying and planning solutions to community problems and, where possible, to offer preventative measures to deal with them before they became acute. But the study also demonstrates several unique features of the Atlanta Urban League, including the production of scholarly monographs on educational, housing and health needs for African Americans in Atlanta that resulted in reforms in the Atlanta Public Schools; increased and improved housing for blacks; and a private hospital for middle and upper income black Atlantans. Notably, the Atlanta Urban League had one of the first female executives of an Urban League affiliate and was one of the first affiliates to face possible disaffiliation for seeming to gear some of its policies to appease segregationists in order to receive local funding.
The work is a major contribution to the growing literature on African American parallel institutions that permitted blacks to survive and progress as well as demonstrate independent action and leadership in the Jim Crow South.
Dr. Alton Hornsby, Jr. is Fuller E. Calloway Professor of History at Morehouse College and former editor of the Journal of Negro History. His previous works include: Chronology of African American History (2 editions), Milestones in Twentieth Century African American History, A Short History of Black Atlanta, 1847-1990, Death and Remembrance in the African American South: The Transition of Mayor Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Jr., and Southerners Too?: Essays on the Black South, 1733-1990. He also recently wrote the foreword to the lib edition of Who's Who Among African Americans. Dr. Alexa Benson Henderson is Professor of History and Dean for Undergraduate Studies at Clark Atlanta University. Professor Henderson is author of Atlanta Life Insurance Company: Guardian of Black Economics History (University of Alabama Press, 1990) and is co-editor of Freedom's Odyssey: African American History Essays from Phylon (Clark Atlanta University Press, 1999).