On January 5, 1970, citizens from different races and walks of life met in the old Springfield Baptist Church to implement a plan. These dedicated people felt the community needed the presence of an agency committed to the principle of equal opportunity for all citizens in housing, education, employment, and economic development, without regard to race or socio-economic status.
The plan was to form a Greenville Affiliate of the National Urban League to pursue this goal. On August 12, 1972, the Greenville Urban League, Inc., now the Urban League of the Upstate, received its charter from Vernon E. Jordan, then Executive Director of the National Urban League. While the mission of the Urban League has expanded since its founding, concerns of fair opportunity in employment, education, housing, economic development and urban affairs are still challenges that face the upstate community.
The first program for the new organization was “Operation Follow Through” authored by Joseph T. Allmon and implemented by Sam Zimmerman and Willie Sullivan. This pilot service was designed to secure employment for young, African American males in the late sixties and early seventies in Greenville County. During this time, plant managers were suspicious and reluctant to hire young African American males because they were not a part of the regular workforce and managers had no knowledge with regards to their working habits. As a result of this effort, hundreds of skilled African American males obtained first-time employment in manufacturing sector.
In 1998, the Urban League established an office and began offering services in Spartanburg County. Today, we operate nine programs throughout Greenville, Spartanburg, and Anderson counties.
The Urban League of the Upstate is a private non-profit, 501© organization, headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina. Governed by a Board of Directors, the CEO along with staff members are responsible for the daily operations and implementation of the agency’s strategic objectives. Johnny M. Mickler, Sr. is the President and CEO. The Urban League of the Upstate is an affiliate of the National Urban League.