US Stamps

Born July 31: Whitney Moore Young Jr.

July 31, 2015 03:30 AM

  • Civil rights leader Whitney Moore Young Jr., on a 15¢ Black Heritage stamp issued in 1981.

American civil rights leader Whitney Moore Young Jr. was born July 31, 1921, in Lincoln Ridge, Ky. His mother was the first black postmaster in Kentucky, and his father was president of the Lincoln Institute of Kentucky, an all-black boarding school.

The school campus is now home to the Whitney Young Birthplace and Museum, a National Historic Landmark.

Young graduated from Kentucky State University in 1941 with a bachelor of science degree in social work. After serving in the Army during World War II, he earned his master's degree in social work at the University of Minnesota.

Young became dean of the Atlanta University School of Social Work and joined the National Urban League, the community-based civil rights organization. He negotiated with business owners to broaden employment opportunities and civil rights for black workers.

He became executive director of the National Urban League in 1961 and served as its leader for 10 years. He was an advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, and helped grow the National Urban League while continuing his efforts to improve opportunities for black citizens in the areas of business and education. In 1969 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Johnson.

Young died after an apparent heart attack while swimming in Nigeria at age 49 in 1971. President Richard Nixon attended Young's funeral and gave the eulogy.

A 15¢ stamp honoring Whitney Moore Young Jr. was issued in the Black Heritage commemorative stamp series on Jan. 30, 1981 (Scott 1875).