Urban League Employees, Washington, D.C. (Photo: Credit/Liz Maratta)

Recently, Impacto sat down with the newly appointed President and CEO of the Urban League of Philadelphia, Darrin W. Anderson Sr., PhD.  We asked him about the organization’s intentions behind attending and marching at the commemorative 60th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington that took place on August 26, 2023, in Washington, D.C.  Here is what he had to say.

Darrin Anderson, ULP CEO, (Center) with UL staff-D.C.  (Photo: Credit/Liz Maratta)
Urban League Staff in D.C. (Photo: Credit/Liz Maratta)

Q:  Why do you think the National Urban League felt it was important to sponsor the commemoration of this historic event?

A:  The National Urban League is a historic, nonpartisan civil rights organization whose work is about building human rights.  We were focused on Black/African American issues starting roughly 40 to 45 years after the end of slavery.  The role it played was working to ensure civil rights regarding housing, jobs, healthcare, and access to social services were granted.  Therefore, it was important for the NUL to have a presence at this anniversary because the work is not done.  As an organization, we are passionate about pressing forward and ensuring that equity is present around each corner that we turn. 

Q: Have things changed since the March in 1963?

A:  If you look at many of the social factors that were being addressed when the March on Washington took place 60 years ago, they still have a presence today.  So, that tells us how the work is still ongoing.  It’s about passing the baton and keeping the torch lit for the next generation so that this movement doesn’t die.  We need to continue to fight to make sure that everyone’s human and civil rights remain intact.  Showing up and marching this past August 26th meant showing up and marching for our black and brown communities 60 years later because the work continues.

Q:  What specific needs does the Urban League of Philadelphia look to address for the City of Philadelphia today?

A:  Philadelphia is a minority majority city and so it’s a microcosm of what we see across the country.  When we look at statistics regarding education, college entry or matriculation, jobs, and crime, we see that many communities are disproportionate, and we find that here in the neighborhoods within the city of Philadelphia.  We want to focus on what doesn’t work and find solutions and focus on many of the amenities that do work so that we can use them to benefit our city.

 “Showing up and marching this past August 26, 2023, meant showing up and marching for our black and brown communities 60 years later because the work continues

Q:  Can you give us some examples?

For example, with the strategic planning that Urban League is involved in we’re hoping to have someone from the Hispanic or Latino Chamber of Commerce work alongside us. We want to make sure that the Latino community and Asian American community as well as the African American Community are being represented.  The work that we’re doing is looking to improve life outcomes for our low-income populations, which are mainly many times black and brown.

Q:  What do you think Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an advocate for non-violence, would have to say about the crime, police brutality and gun violence that increasingly grows from year to year?

A:  I do not think that Dr. King would be happy.  He would agree that there is not one factor to point out as the main reason for all the carnage and injustice that is happening around us.  There are several.  He might agree, though, that the number one thing remains the same one as when he marched and used non-violent efforts to fight for justice and peace way back then.  That is, we just don’t take enough time to understand one another.  As a society, we operate by fear.  Explicit and implicit biases towards one another contribute to the rise in this sort of violence in our cities.  I would even go so far as to say that we need to live peacefully with our neighbors.  That would reduce the crime that exists in our city.  I mean as a spiritual person, what God intended for us to do is to help and love one another during times of trouble. Love our neighbor. That seems to be easier said than done, especially given how we have such a divided political environment.  What a different world it would be if we all just considered our next-door neighbors and strove towards living in peace and acceptance of one another.

Jennifer Thompkins, CEO-UL Wilmingon, DE (L) & Darrin Anderson, (R) CEO UL Philadelphia. (Photo: Credit/Liz Maratta)
MLK Statue, Washington, D.C. (Photo: Credit/Liz Maratta)

So, the March does truly go on.  The 60th Anniversary of the March on Washington was not just a commemoration.  It is a continuation.  We march on!

Urban League Marching in D.C. (Photo: Credit/Liz Maratta)

For more information, check out the ULOP website: https://urbanleaguephila.org/


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