The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights

September 4, 2018

An Unsung Hero of the Civil Rights Movement

Alfre Woodard, Emmy and Golden Globe Award Wnning Actress and Narrator of The Powerbroker

During the 1960s, as the executive director of the National Urban League, Young was one of the few African Americans who had the ears of those who controlled the levers of power: CEOs, governors, senators, and presidents.  He used these relationships to gain better access to employment, education, housing, and healthcare for African Americans, other minorities, and those in need.  Young, a Kentucky native and World War II soldier used his humor and charm to facilitate events such as the 1963 March on Washington.  

The Powerbroker (airing Monday, February 18th @ 10pm on PBS) is produced by Young’s niece, Bonnie Boswell, an Emmy Award-winning journalist.  The documentary reflects on Young’s role with exclusive movies, audio recordings, and personal photographs.  The film features diversified interviews from people who embodied and partnered with Young such as Dorothy Height and John Hope Franklin.

The film also explores those who criticized Young, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. on issues such as the Vietnam War.  Young became a target among Black Power leaders who saw him as contradictory to their efforts.  After Young’s death in 1971, many who doubted him have come to admire his achievements and dedication.  While Young is less known today than other activists in the era, his behind-the-scenes work is still prominent and his legacy heavily influences social change. 


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