Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis | St. Louis Public Radio

Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis

Illustration by Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Mental illness is real in the African-American community and needs to be talked about.

That was the message of the final panel at the National Urban League conference, which wrapped up in St. Louis on Saturday. All three speakers were celebrity women of color who had had their own struggles with mental illness.

Leaders prepare to cut the ribbon in front of the Ferguson Community Empowerment Center on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. It's on the site of the QuikTrip that was burned during protests following Michael Brown's fatal shooting.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Updated at 4:50 p.m. July 26 with additional comments from the ceremony — In 2014, the burned-out Ferguson QuikTrip quickly became a national symbol of a community’s frustration over police brutality. Local and national leaders hope the building that replaced the convenience store becomes a symbol of hope.

Nonprofit, corporate and political leaders gathered Wednesday to celebrate the grand opening of the Ferguson Community Empowerment Center. It also served as the opening of the National Urban League’s annual conference, which is in St. Louis through Saturday.

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis is the largest local branch of any other Urban League in the country.
Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

If you want to know why the National Urban League conference is in St. Louis this week, look no further than Michael Brown’s fatal shooting. The local chapter of the organization, which champions civil rights and economic empowerment for African-Americans, said it wanted to call attention to what it’s done since August 2014, and the work that remains.

But the location is also symbolic of the dilemma that the Urban League, which has been in the St. Louis area since 1918, and other long-standing organizations like the NAACP face: finding ways to stay relevant as movements like Black Lives Matter continue to rise to prominence.

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis is the largest local branch of any other Urban League in the country.
Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

When Sheila Beckham’s house was leaking heat last winter, she thought back to when her great-grandfather repaired his home.

“I remembered that the Urban League came and fixed his doors and the windows, and they were still in the same place, so I figured they could help me too,” said Beckham, a lifelong St. Louis resident. “They came to my house and helped me with my windows and doors too, got me a water heater and a furnace.”

Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.
(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

The National Urban League Conference will be in St. Louis this summer.

The event will be held July 26-29 at the America’s Center.  

President and CEO Marc Morial said on Friday that St. Louis proved itself back in 2007 when it first hosted the national conference. But he said this year’s conference, with the theme “Save Our Cities,” is coming back in part because of the challenges African-Americans face in St. Louis.

Centene announced plans for this new claims center shortly after the death of Michael Brown
Centene Corporation

Many organizations are still working to make a difference in Ferguson and North St. Louis County two years after unrest erupted in the city. That includes several foundations and other nonprofits that made promises of funding and commitments to change as part of the healing process. We decided to check in with a few of those organizations to see how well they have followed through on their commitments.

Community Empowerment Center of Ferguson, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

A year ago the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis announced its Community Empowerment Center of Ferguson.

A few months later a groundbreaking on the site of the former burned-out QuikTrip on West Florissant Avenue drew a big crowd. What had become a central place for protests in the days after Michael Brown’s death in 2014 would soon be a “phoenix rising,” officials said.

Workforce development specialist Darryl Jones teaches a class for the Save Our Sons program in north St. Louis County.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

For two years, Tyrell Stalling sent off job applications to no avail. Sometimes, he was homeless.

“At one point I took all the resumes I did and just threw them away. Because I was like, there’s no help. This world is just unfair,” Stalling said. Stalling is one of 114 men who this year have completed a new job training effort by the Urban League.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

It was a much different scene than 11 months ago at 9420 West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson.

The parking lot of the former QuikTrip was ground zero for protests in the days following Michael Brown’s death on August 9. The burned-out shell of the store and graffiti was a reminder of the looting and violence that descended on the street.

A rendering of the planned jobs center was unveiled by the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis on Monday.
File photo | Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

What became a symbol of the unrest in Ferguson after the death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9 will become a "phoenix rising."

That's the hope of officials with the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis who are planning a $500,000 jobs center on the site of the burned-out QuikTrip at 9240 W. Florissant Ave. 

The QuikTrip on West Florissant Ave. was looted and burned on Aug. 10, the day after Michael Brown's death.
Jason Rosenbaum|St. Louis Public Radio

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis will build a new center on the site of a burned-out QuikTrip in Ferguson.

National Urban League Young Professional President Brandi Richard encourages a group of teenage girls to be supportive in their comments to each other.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Mutual respect. Mentorship. Giving back. Knowing your rights and the best way to act on them. These are a few of the solutions decided on during a town hall in St. Louis on Saturday seeking ways to improve social justice outcomes for African Americans.

Mike McMillan, president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' huin
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson changed everything.

Save Our Sons, Urban League, Mike McMillan
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis has launched a job training and placement program in north St. Louis County called Save Our Sons. The effort is getting serious corporate support — and a dash of Hollywood.

At a news conference Tuesday, Urban League CEO Michael McMillan announced $1.25 million in corporate donations toward the project:

Job seekers attend a job held on Sept. 13
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

A large crowd of eager job-seekers lined up at St. Louis Community College - Florissant Valley  Saturday for the Urban League’s Job and Resource Fair. At least 90 companies, many with positions to fill, joined the fair, including BJC Healthcare, the Missouri Highway Patrol and St. Louis Community Credit Union.

Available jobs ranged across the spectrum of careers and education levels, from law enforcement to health care. BJC alone had a thousand jobs to fill.

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

Dozens were arrested Wednesday afternoon during an attempted act of civil disobedience in north St. Louis County. Prior to the demonstration, protest organizers said they wanted a special prosecutor appointed for the county’s investigation into the death of Michael Brown. The goal was to shut down Interstate 70 at Hanley Road, but a strong police presence prevented demonstrators from reaching their goal.

Robert Joiner

Five months after settling in as the new CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Michael McMillan has been busy putting his imprint on the community service and civil rights organization. It’s a big responsibility, given the accomplishments of his predecessor, James Buford, who built the local group into the most successful affiliate of the National Urban League.

With a $23 million annual budget, the organization offers a range of services, from job training to utility assistance, to about 60,000 people.

Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis

A year ago, James Buford announced that he intended to retire after almost three decades as President and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.  He just celebrated his 69th birthday and May 31 was to have been his last day. But instead, he was asked to stay on another month while the agency completes the process of hiring his successor. He will then serve in a consulting capacity to help the new CEO get acclimated to the position.

'We get to stay in our home'

Jul 15, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 15, 2008 - Housing counselor Eric Madkins was on the phone with one of his foreclosure success stories: a 26-year-old homeowner from Jennings who found help at the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis after her husband was laid off last Christmas.

The mother of three described how her family's near-miss with foreclosure had affected her children.