After 40 years of operating out of office buildings in downtown Washington , the city's Urban League has found a home of its own at 3501 14th St. NW.
Yesterday, about 200 government leaders and long-time Urban League supporters attended an outdoor, building dedication ceremony in front of the first headquarters owned by the league.
"We've come a long way," executive director John Jacobs told the crowd. "Until recently we often worked quietly behind the scenes, in places where white Washington was."
No longer is the league quiet, said Jacobs, and no longer is it headquartered in white Washington. The three-story, brick headquarters is only blocks away from the riot-scarred residential neighborhoods of 14th Street.
Jacobs said the move to the 14th Street building makes it possible for the league to tbetter monitor the problems of their constitutents and allow them easier access to the agency's programs.
"Our move," he said, "is a symbol and continuing message of the urban leagues commitment to low-income citizens."
"We like to think we've become synonymous with political arbitration," said league President Robert Larsen. "We like to think we've been influential advocates and a catalyst to influence decision making for minorities."
A long-time league advocate, Joseph B. Danzansky, chairman of the board of Giant Food, Inc., was instrumental in helping them obtain the building. The new headquarters, was formerly the Danzansky residence and morturary.
The Urban League which now has a staff of 81, has served as metropolitan Washington's major multiservice, community agencies since it was founded here in 1938.
Programming in the areas of education, employment counseling, youth-family arbitration, and services for senior citizens have been long-standing priorites of the league.
Last year, the league surveyed the Washington area on the problems of the poor and later redirected its programs to focus on the concerns evident from the survey.Those concerns were: increased purchasing power, employment, public safety, education, citizenship participation and housing.
As a result of these objectives, five employment programs for youths, female heads of households and the unemployed were created.