Whitney M. Young Jr.

Picture1.pngWhitney Moore Young Jr. was a noted civil rights pioneer, social worker and statesman who served as the first dean of the School of Social Work at Atlanta University, now known as Clark Atlanta University (CAU).

Young was one of the organizers of the historic March on Washington (1963) as well as an important advisor to U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon. He pushed for federal aid to cities, proposing a domestic "Marshall Plan" and was widely recognized as the coauthor of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty.  He served as Executive Director of the National Urban League (1961-1971), president of the National Conference on Social Welfare in 1965 and president of NASW in 1969.

At the age of 33 Young was named Dean of the School of Social Work at Atlanta University. He was the first to hold the title of dean in the school’s history and served from 1954 to 1961. During his tenure as dean, Young supported alumni in their boycott of the Georgia Conference of Social Welfare, which had a poor record of placing African Americans in good jobs. At the same time, he joined the NAACP and rose to become its state president. Young also played a lead role in getting CSWE to adopt an accreditation standard on non-discrimination.

Born in Kentucky in 1921. Young earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Kentucky State University. From 1942-1944, while serving in the U.S. Army, he studied electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After his discharge from the military, Young returned from overseas and went on to earn his MSW from the University of Minnesota. He then began to work with the Urban League in Minnesota, later became executive secretary of the Urban League in Omaha, Nebraska. During his ten-year tenure as Executive Director of the National Urban League (1961-1971), Young transformed the organization into a leader in the civil rights movement.


Throughout his career, Young received many honorary degrees and awards —including the Medal of Freedom (1969), presented by President Lyndon Johnson—for his outstanding civil rights accomplishments. A prominent lecturer and author of several books, Young completed his first full-length book, “To Be Equal,” in 1964. A second, “Beyond Racism,” was published in 1969. Young was also honored in 1981 by the United States Postal Service on a postage stamp issued as part of its ongoing Black Heritage series. 

In 2000, Clark Atlanta University renamed its school of social work after Young in honor of his years of service to the university and to the social work profession.

Source: NASWFoundation.org