HARLEM, NEW YORK CITY (SEPTEMBER 12, 2022) – Leaders of the National Urban League gathered today with city, state, and federal elected officials and economic development partners for a Topping Off Celebration to mark the progress of the Urban Empowerment Center, the League’s future headquarters in Harlem.

The event took place on the building’s  Fourth Floor, which will house the Urban Civil Rights Museum, New York’s first museum dedicated to civil rights.

Speakers include National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial, Board Chair Tim Murphy, Urban Civil Rights Museum Executive Director and Chief Curator Jennifer Scott, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, and BRP Companies Co-Founder and Managing Partner Meredith Marshall.

The National Urban League was founded in New York in 2010 to support the migrants in Harlem and elsewhere in the city who sought to escape the violence and terrorism of the Jim Crow South as part of the Great Migrations.

The $242 million, 414,000-square-foot Urban League Empowerment Center is one of the most significant economic development projects in Harlem’s recent history. Located Center on Harlem’s “Main Street,” 125th Street, near legendary cultural institutions like the Apollo Theater and the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Empowerment Center will include the National Urban League’s headquarters, the Urban Civil Rights Museum Experience, the National Urban League Institute for Race, Equity and Justice, along with 170 units of affordable housing, below-market office space for non-profits and community groups including One Hundred Black Men of New York, United Negro College Fund New York, and the Harlem-based Jazzmobile, and retail space featuring Target and Trader Joe’s.

The project is made possible through a variety of city, state, and federal funding sources, including more than $110 million in state grants from Empire State Development and the Department of Housing and Community Renewal.

Marc H. Morial, National Urban League President and CEO, said:
“The convergence of ambitious, motivated Black people from around the country with employment opportunities created by World War I exploded into the Harlem Renaissance.  With it, came what Langston Hughes called the courage ‘to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame.’ It is with this profound legacy and storied past in mind that we at the National Urban League have pursued this historic building project that will keep us in the city where we were founded, while enhancing the economic and cultural revitalization of Harlem.”

Tim Murphy, Mastercard Chief Administrative Officer and Chair, National Urban League Board of Trustees, said;
“This new building is much more than a physical structure. The brick and mortar that we stand in today represent so much, from economic and social progress and the dream of actualizing full equity; to the hopes and aspirations for the many who will walk through these doors and see themselves reflected and represented. The building is a metaphor for the critical history that is documented in the museum here that we must not forget, and in the possibility of a brighter future, as with the new conference center where generations to come will access trainings and education. This building is a living, breathing example of what’s possible when we come together with shared goals of advancement and opportunity for African Americans.”

Jennifer Scott, Urban Civil Rights Museum Executive Director and Chief Curator, said:
“I am thrilled to lead this special and timely charge. It will be an honor to bring out the unique stories of the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, and the long fight for justice in the North, from early African American communities to the current Black Lives Matter era. Harlem – as one of the many Northern destinations of the Great Migration, the birthplace of the National Urban League and a center of this vibrant history – is the perfect place to launch these stories.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said:
“This milestone is one major step toward a bright new chapter for the National Urban League and the Harlem community,” Governor Hochul said. “As one of the nation’s longest-serving civil rights organizations, the Urban League has been a fierce defender of values that New Yorkers hold dear — equality, justice, fairness and opportunity. My administration is proud to invest more than $110 million into this project, including $4.5 million for brand-new office space, to help the Urban League continue its remarkable service and strengthen the surrounding Harlem neighborhood.”

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said:
“Today’s topping off ceremony marks the return of the National Urban League to Harlem, the original Mecca of Black literature, thought, and culture in the United States. The National Urban League was born right here in New York over a century ago, and I am proud to stand side by side with them year after year as we work to correct decades of systemic racial, economic, and educational injustices within our society. The Urban League Empowerment Center will cultivate the talent and purpose and energy to sustain progress in the ongoing struggle for equality and justice even as it celebrates Black history and lives. I look forward to working with the National Urban League to empower the community as we work together to achieve equal justice and shared prosperity.”

Meredith Marshall , BRP Companies Co-Founder and Managing Partner, said:
“It’s a great source of pride to see the progress on this remarkable addition to the Harlem community. The Urban Empowerment Center exemplifies BRP’s mission of developing equitable, sustainable projects with a holistic and thoughtful approach. With affordable housing, space for civic organizations, community-minded retail partners, and a world-class cultural institution in the civil rights museum, the Empowerment Center celebrates and elevates every facet of Harlem’s unique and vibrant character.”