Cravins calls for Main Street Marshall Plan at Urban League Luncheon

Atty. Don Cravins, Jr. speaks at the 49th Annual Equal Opportunity Day Luncheon of the Urban League of Middle Tennessee. (Photo by Sam Jordan)

Atty. Don Cravins, Jr. speaks at the 49th Annual Equal Opportunity Day Luncheon of the Urban League of Middle Tennessee. (Photo by Sam Jordan)

The Urban League of Middle Tennessee (ULMT) hosted their 49th Equal Opportunity Day (EOD) Luncheon, celebrating 49 years of service, on Tuesday, February 7, 2017, at the Hilton Downtown Nashville. Donald R. Cravins, Jr., National Urban League’s Senior Vice President for Policy and Executive Director of the Washington Bureau was the keynote speaker. Cravins delivered a rousing address about how the National Urban League, with help from the Middle Tennessee affiliate, plans to help Black America.

EOD Luncheon speaker Don Cravins, Jr. serves as the National Urban League’s Senior Vice President for Policy and Executive Director of the Washington Bureau. Cravins leads the development of the National Urban League’s policy, research, and advocacy agenda, while expending the organization’s impact and influence inside the Capital Beltway.

Cravins invoked the concepts of one of the greats in the history of the National Urban League, Whitney Young. Whitney Moore Young Jr. (July 31, 1921 – March 11, 1971) spent most of his career working to end employment discrimination in the United States and turning the National Urban League from a relatively passive civil rights organization into one that aggressively worked for equitable access to socioeconomic opportunity for the historically disenfranchised. Perhaps his most important influence lay in Young’s call for a “Domestic Marshall Plan,” outlined in his book, To Be Equal (1964), which influenced President Johnson’s War on Poverty programs.

Cravins spoke of that time when Young challenged the nation to match its magnanimity toward rebuilding Europe in the wake of the devastation from World War II. In that era, the U.S. developed and implemented what was then and is known as the Marshall Plan.

That plan rebuilt the nations ruined by Hitler’s Nazi war machine, and put the continent back into shape. The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was an American initiative to aid Western Europe, in which the United States gave over $12 billion (approximately $120 billion in current dollar value as of June 2016) in economic support to help rebuild Western European economies after the end of World War II.

Young’s call for a Domestic Marshall Plan to rebuild Black America had focused on four main areas: Education; Employment; Housing; and Health and Welfare. Cravins implored the audience to help the Urban League to bring about the implementation of a 21st century Domestic Marshall Plan to be called the Main Street Marshall Plan.

Current policies overwhelmingly help out the rich and powerful elite, and as such Wall Street is in great shape. But where help is needed is in the majority of American communities, on their Main Streets. As evidence for the necessity of such action, he highlighted the annual report of the NUL called The State of Black America. In it, there is an Equality Index, and by all indices, Black America lags behind the nation as a whole and white America in particular.

For additional information about the National Urban League, go to their website: http://nul.iamempowered.com/ and / or if you have any additional questions and/or wish to volunteer to help the Urban League of Middle Tennessee serve the community, visit the ULMT website at: www.ul-mdtn.iamempowered.com.