Knoxville Area Urban League


Our History

The Knoxville Area Urban League, a civil rights, economic development and social service organization, was founded in 1968 at the height of the Civil Rights movement to promote equal employment opportunities for African-Americans in Knoxville, Tennessee. Today, the Urban League is a non-profit, non-partisan, interracial community-based organization, serving a diverse client base in Knox, Blount and Anderson counties.

We are an affiliate of the National Urban League, the nation’s oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream. Today, the National Urban League spearheads the non-partisan efforts of its local affiliates.

There are more than 100 affiliates of the National Urban League located in 35 states and the District of Columbia providing direct services to more than 2 million people nationwide through programs, advocacy and research.

Knoxville Area Urban League(Center, L-R) Whitney M. Young, Jr., Executive Director of the National Urban League and Woodrow Wilson, the first Executive Director of the Knoxville Urban League, stand outside the Knoxville Urban League’s offices in 1968, the first year of operations for Knoxville.


Knoxville Area Urban League (L-R) Vernon Jordon, CEO of the National Urban League, Ron Brown, Deputy Economic Director of the National Urban League, and Randy Tyree, Mayor of Knoxville, at the Equal Opportunity Dinner held at the Deane Hill Country Club in Knoxville. Deane Hill was the first country club in Knoxville to open its doors for African Americans. Circa 1976


Knoxville Area Urban League Leadership History
Phyllis Y. Nichols, President & CEO – 2000-Present
Rosemary Durant Giles, Executive Director – 1992-2000
Mark A. Brown, Executive Director – 1987-1992
James R. Townes, Executive Director – 1980-1986
Woodrow Z. Wilson, Jr., Executive Director – 1968-1978

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