Lester Blackwell Granger (September 16, 1896 – January 1976) was an African American civic leader who organized the Los Angeles chapter of the National Urban League (NUL) and headed the National Urban League from 1941-1961.
Granger was born Newport News, Virginia, one of six sons. His mother was a teacher and his father was a doctor from Barbados. He grew up in Newark, New Jersey and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1918. Granger was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
He served in the U.S. Army during World War I, and worked briefly for the Newark chapter of the National Urban League.
In 1922, Granger was an extension worker with the New Jersey state vocational school for African American youth in Bordentown, New Jersey.
In 1930, he organized the Los Angeles chapter of the National Urban League (NUL). In 1934, he led the organization's efforts to promote trade unionism among African American workers and challenge racism by employers and labor organizations.
In 1940, Granger became the NUL’s assistant executive secretary in charge of industrial relations, and continued to work to integrate racist trade unions.
In 1941, executive secretary of the NUL Eugene K. Jones was no longer able to carry out duties due to illness, and Granger was appointed Jones' successor. During his first year as the leader of the NUL, he led the NUL's effort to support the March on Washington proposed by A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and A. J. Muste to protest racial discrimination in defense work and the Armed Forces. In 1945, he began working with the Department of Defense to desegregate the military, seeing first success with the Navy in February 1946. During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, he insisted that the NUL continue its strategy of "education and persuasion," a view which the NUL continued to support. Granger retired from the NUL in 1961 and joined the faculty of Dillard University in New Orleans.
He remained a leading figure in social work over the years, serving as president of the National Conference of Social Work in 1952, among other activities. Granger died in Alexandria, Louisiana in January 1976.
The Tucker Foundation annually presents The Lester Granger 18 Award to a Dartmouth College graduate whose commitment to public service, social activism or nonprofit professions has been exemplary.
- ↑ Streator, George. "SCHOOL IN JERSEY AIDS NEGRO YOUTHS; Bordentown 'Exposes' Them to Trades and Skills While Promoting Self-Respect", The New York Times, November 21, 1948. Accessed June 3, 2010.
- ↑ Parris, Guichard and Lester Brooks. Blacks in the City: A History of the National Urban League. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. 1971. pp. 273-285.
- ↑ Parris, Guichard and Lester Brooks. Blacks in the City: A History of the National Urban League. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. 1971. pp. 285-286.
- ↑ Thomas, Jesse. "Urban League Bulletin." The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945): 1. Jan 25 1942. ProQuest. Web. 6 Feb. 2016.
- ↑ CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY, Washington DC. Morris J. MacGregor, Jr. 1985. INTEGRATION OF THE ARMED FORCES 1940-1965. World War II: The Navy. A Segregated Navy. Archived 2010-06-08 at the Wayback Machine.
- ↑ "Lester B. Granger." Chicago Daily Defender (Daily Edition) (1960-1973): 11. Oct 02 1961. ProQuest. Web. 6 Feb. 2016.
- ↑ Social Justice Awards. Dartmouth. Accessed 6 February 2016.
- Lester Granger Autograph
- National Urban League
- The Lester B. Granger Papers (1935-1961) are held at the Library of Congress Manuscript Division as part of the National Urban League Records (1910-1960).
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