Thursday night, the Columbia Urban League will be celebrating 40 years of service at its annual Equal Opportunity Day dinner. As a former board member, I will be there, among others sitting at The State’s table at the event.
Today, President J.T. McLawhorn (above), Board Chairman Tony Grant (right), board member Cindy Cox and co-founder of the chapter Anthony Hurley (bottom) came to see our editorial board to talk about the past 40 years.
Some of the points covered:
- Our guests talked about the particular niche the CUL carved out in the community, which was less
confrontational than other civil rights organizations. The Urban League and J.T. have taken flak for that over the years. Many who might otherwise support the organization griped when former Gov. David Beasley spoke to one of the EOD dinners. Why was a Republican invited, they wanted to know? The answer was simple — the Urban League was about working with everybody, and building relationships across the board. (This year’s speaker will be Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell, who will probably be a candidate for governor in 2010.)
- Mr. Hurley told of having to soothe apprehensions in the community when he and his wife helped start the chapter in the 1960s. He knew at least of a model he did not want to follow — he told of Malcolm X coming into his office to seek his support in getting his organization established in Columbia, and Mr. Hurley asked him to leave.
- J.T. and Tony talked about all the people in the community who can trace their success to the organization’s summer jobs program, which has taught many young people how to live productive lives.