Birmingham Urban League

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The Birmingham Urban League is a community-based non-profit organization affiliated with the National Urban League, which promotes its mission of economic self-reliance and civil rights through community organization, and by improving access to education, employment, housing and public health in underserved communities. William A. Barnes is the president and CEO. The group's offices are located in the 2101 6th Avenue building.

The local group was founded in 1967 by John Drew, A. G. Gaston, Emory Jackson, Jessie Lewis Sr, Joseph Lowery, Lucius Pitts, Clarence Price, Amos Ryce II, Arthur Shores, E. W. Taggart and James L. Ware.

In 2001 the Birmingham Urban League moved from offices in the Famous Theater at 1721 4th Avenue North to 1229 3rd Avenue North. It moved to its present offices in 2019, expanding from 7,500 square feet to 20,000 square feet.

Birmingham Urban League is certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as a housing counseling agency. In June 2021 the group was selected by Jefferson County Commission to administer the distribution of $9 million in federal emergency rental assistance through the American Rescue Plan Act.

In the early 2020s the Birmingham Urban League began meeting with the National Urban League regarding regional expansion of its activities.

Since 2018 the Birmingham Urban League has received $200,000 in funds allocated by state legislators through the Jefferson County Community Service Fund. The group declined an additional check for more than $15,000 allocated by Representative John Rogers in 2023 because he had not discussed the purpose of the funds with them, and because he had been named in a federal indictment that resulted in the prosecution of fellow Representative Fred Plump relating to the Fund. Rogers expressed relief that they had declined the funding, claiming that he hadn't wanted to give it to them anyway.


  • Pernell, Avalon (June 7, 2021) "Birmingham nonprofit awarded $9 million for emergency rental assistance program." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Parker, Illyshia (January 26, 2023) "Birmingham Urban League expanding footprint amid rapid growth." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Denham, Hannah (June 29, 2023) "Birmingham nonprofit doesn’t want missing check from Rep. John Rogers."
  • Bryant, Joseph D. (July 11, 2023) "A Birmingham nonprofit rejected money from a lawmaker. Then he accused them of corruption."

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