In an address to the National Urban League Conference, Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the civil rights organization, introduced what he called the next phase of advocacy and activism: Empowerment 2.0.
The new initiative builds on the framework of the five-part Empowerment Agenda, which Morial first revealed in his inaugural State of the Urban League speech two decades ago.
Empowerment 2.0 focuses on the organization’s core pillars: Employment, Education, Housing, Healthcare, and Justice.
However, it also encompasses what Morial called The Three Ds: Defend Democracy, Demand Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Defeat Poverty.
Morial emphasized the critical importance of this new phase, stating that the nation is facing challenges to the hard-fought progress made since the Brown decision.
He expressed concern over assaults on justice in the Supreme Court and within state legislatures influenced by right-wing ideologies.
Morial took a firm stand against the policies of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, criticizing them for promoting voter suppression, gerrymandering, censorship of history, and restrictive reproductive rights measures.
He underscored the need for advocacy and activism in the face of such regressive policies.
Reflecting on his 20-year leadership of the National Urban League, Morial highlighted the organization’s transformation from an iconic 20th-century civil rights movement to one fit for the challenges of the 21st century.
He pointed out the shift from confronting Jim Crow to combating a new adversary, “James Crow, Esquire,” who employed subtler tactics to undermine progress.
Morial noted a new threat had emerged: “Jimmy Crow,” the son and grandson of the previous adversaries.
“Jimmy’s not content with suppressing Black votes; he wants the power to ignore election results altogether,”
“He fiercely guards the symbols of white supremacy his grandfather erected on town squares and courthouse grounds to intimidate Black Americans. He rants about ‘replacement theory’ and ‘Critical Race Theory.’”