CHAMPAIGN — Illinois Public Media's next Community Cinema event on Tuesday will be the screening of a new documentary about Whitney Young, executive director of the National Urban League in the 1960s.
"The Powerbroker: Whitney Young's Fight for Civil Rights" was produced by Young's niece, Emmy Award-winning journalist Bonnie Boswell.
The free screening will be at 6 p.m. at the Champaign Public Library, Robeson Rooms A & B. A discussion will follow, with panelists Doris Houston, associate professor of social work at Illinois State University; Tracy Parsons, project director of Access-Initiative and former director of the Urban League of Champaign County; and Evelyn Underwood, former officer and life member of the Champaign County NAACP and a longtime community activist and leader.
Young was one of the few African-Americans who had the ear of those who controlled the levers of power, among them Fortune 500 CEOs, governors, senators and presidents. He used these relationships to gain better access to employment, education, housing and health care for African-Americans, other minorities and those in need.
His unique position and approach earned him praise but also scorn from the Black Power movement for being too close to the white establishment. While he is less known today than other leaders of the era because of the behind-the-scenes nature of his work, Young's legacy and influence are still felt profoundly.
"The Powerbroker" will air at 9 p.m. Feb. 18 on WILL-TV.