Activism: National Urban League

17 Oct

The political organization I chose is the National Urban League (NUL). It is also known as the National League on Urban Conditions Among Negroes. The NUL was founded in 1910 and is a nonpartisan civil rights organization which dedicates to enable African American parity, economic power and civil rights. Unlike MoveOn which points out that they have 5 million members across America, I cannot find the member amount within NUL’s website.

Compare the homepage of MoveOn and National Urban League, I have to say that the website of NUL is much organized than the MoveOn’s website. On the NUL’s homepage, it clear categorizes some basic information such as “Who We Are,” “What We Do,” where can users find their affiliates and how to get involved. On the MoveOn’s homepage, all the information which was mentioned above are put under the “About” button.

Under “What We Do” category, the NUL clearly points out that they “employs a five-point approach to provide economic empowerment, educational opportunities and the guarantee of civil rights for African Americans.” The five points are “education and youth empowerment,” “economic empowerment,” ”health and quality of life empowerment,” “ civic engagement and leadership empowerment” and “civic rights and racial justice empowerment.” Beneath the strategy, the NUL operates 25 national programs through their affiliates. Unlike the NUL, MoveOn categorizes their task in two: Political Action and Civic Action and it mentions these under “About” category.

Although the website design of these two organizations are quite different, both of them put the social network links on the homepage. They all operates their own Facebook, Twitter and Youtube pages. In their Facebook page, MoveOn has 102,208 people who like it and the NUL only has 6,342.

On the MoveOn homepage, it clearly shows their current campaigns and indicates the campaign belonging to political action or civic action (Now all the campaigns are political action). And each campaign has its clear goal such as “keep foreign corporate money out of our elections.” People can sign the petition in this campaign (even who are not members). On the NUL website, it also has events people can sign in. However, signing in some of the events will redirect users to other organization’s website. It seems that the NUL also cooperates with other political organizations.

From my observation, a lot of events which are held by the NUL are not based on the Internet. It emphasizes on local events which people can attend. Therefore, it does not take the three features of the Internet mentioned by Rohlinger and Brown (2009) as the useful tool. It may “provides a free space for challengers to form oppositional points of view away from dominant groups” (p134). And since it has many affiliates which are managed locally, it may be able to “move challenges from the virtual to the real world” (p134) easily. However, the risk of associated with activism still exists. Challengers cannot participate anonymously. I think it loses the biggest advantage the Internet which can help the NUL and its members achieve their goal.

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7 Responses to “Activism: National Urban League”

  1. Xuerui October 18, 2010 at 11:15 pm #

    I do like NUL’s webpage more than MoveOn’s. It is simple and neat. I agree with you that NUL does not promote activism as much as MoveOn and it is more likely to inform and encourage members to involve in the local events. But it is surprised to know that members could not participate anonymously in that organization. If it is true, it does lose a huge advantage of online engagement in a political organization, especially for people expressing dissent opinions. It is risky and high-cost. I check the website and it even requires cell phone number for people just wants to stay connected about the updates.

  2. Sijia October 20, 2010 at 11:03 pm #

    I found this website too when I was doing research for this assignment. It indeed has a decent website. And the logo of NUL has been selected as one of the best design among all the political organizations’ logos(I’ve learned it from a blog post).

    A question I have about this organization is its membership mechanism. I don’t know if people have to be a member to participate in its activities, or people just sign in to get newsletters?

  3. fanninchen October 22, 2010 at 2:40 am #

    According to your observation, NUL doesn’t hold event base on their website, so their website is just a information showcase? There is another interesting thing I found out is that they have shopping website! They have a lot of merchandises printed with their logo, even a ipod case! It’s so interesting nowadays how organization promote their brand image and raise funds.

    • francescalyn October 22, 2010 at 9:51 am #

      I thought merchandise was a very interesting thing to bring up. A lot of organizations like this seem to be heavy on swag. I love the logo and overall design of NUL. It is very clean and contemporary.

      I think NUL is a bit more than an information showcase as it does allow you to come in contact with local organizations. I would say it’s more of a centralized hub.

  4. makeyourself270 October 22, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    I found the disparity in membership on Facebook between MoveOn and NUL to be quite interesting. I wonder if there are sociological issues that are at work here. It may be possible that the two groups have more similar membership, but that inequality factors restrict a strong presence on social networking sites for NUL. Since NUL deals with issues concerning African Americans in urban environments and, regrettably, socioeconomic status and income inequality trend realtively strongly along race lines, it may be possible that a large percentage of the NUL population is removed from the organization’s online presence due to the digital divide.

  5. morganyang October 22, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    I like the way NUL clarify their goals and aims. It is really important that to do so, not only to attract members but also to take the responsibility as an organization of activism. I agree with the point you mentioned at the last paragraph that the internet do provides “free space” for activism, especially for the minority group like NUL fight for. Also, I can see the same risk as yours among those website, because no one would garantee the anonymity online.

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