[Urban League\COVID-19]
Morial: “More than 30,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, and African Americans are more likely to die than any other group…That’s why that Urban League Movement’s role as economic first responders is more important than ever before.”
Photo: National Urban League

As part of their COVID-19 response, the National Urban League has launched its “The Urban League Fights For You Initiative.”

“Until government is able to stand up the benefits that are included in the CARES Act and Families First Act, people in the meantime have to live, that’s really the challenge. The Urban League and other non-profits are here to support people and get them connected to what they need. People have to know they can call a number and someone on the other end is going to care what they’re experiencing.” — Urban League of Greater Atlanta President and CEO Nancy Flake Johnson.

It’s hard to believe the toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on the economy, and even harder to describe. At least 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment compensation in the last four weeks. It’s the largest and fastest string of job losses since the nation began keeping records in 1948.

The unemployment rate has soared to 20 percent, the highest rate since the Great Depression.

This economic devastation occurs against a backdrop of heartbreaking loss. More than 30,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, and African-Americans are more likely to die than any other group.

I’ve often described Black America as the caboose on the nation’s economic train. Whether the train slows down or speeds up, we’re still running behind. And now the train is off the rails.

That’s why the Urban League Movement’s role as economic first responders is more important than ever before. And I’m proud of the way our movement has risen to the challenge. Across the country, Urban League affiliates are an integral part of regional responses to the health and economic crisis in their communities.

It’s all part of the National Urban League’s coronavirus response initiative, The Urban League Fights for You. From distributing groceries to connecting job-seekers with opportunity to advocating in Congress for racial equity in the Rescue Plan, Urban Leaguers are leading the way.

In addition to offering many of their standard programs remotely, many affiliates have crafted unique responses to the pandemic. The Urban League of Greater Madison is connecting laid-off workers with newly-available jobs. Because of the affiliate’s extensive experience in workforce development, the COVID-19 Workforce Recovery Initiative, is able to quickly and efficiently match employers with increased demand to workers with the necessary skills and requirements.

The Urban League of St. Louis has already fed more than 1,000 families through its drive-up grocery giveaway, which is ongoing. The affiliate is accepting donations of food, toiletries and funds for rental assistance.

The Louisville Urban League is keeping up the community’s spirits on social media with “Louisville versus Da Rona,” a challenge in which young people can win cash prizes by showcasing what they’re doing to beat the coronavirus. Using the hashtag #LouisvilleVsDaRona, posts can include poetry, singing, comedy, skits, dancing, cooking or any way youths are passing the time while social distancing.

The Tallahassee Urban League is working with the Tallahassee Housing Authority to provide hot meals about 300 schoolchildren a day. Urban League President and C.E.O. Curtis Taylor says it’s about more than nourishment: “We want to do everything we can to let our kids know that we are here for them,” he said.

The Tacoma Urban League is using video conferencing to help small business owners apply for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, and providing free Lyft rides to grocery stores and worksites. The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle is helping pay laid-off workers’ rent. The Urban League of Central Carolinas hosted a virtual job fair.

The list of how Urban Leaguers are leading the response goes on and on. These are just a few examples. Follow @NatUrbanLeague and @MarcMorial on social media, and visit for more info.

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