Statement By N. Charles Anderson, President/CEO Detroit Urban League On the Death of Francis A. Kornegay, Ph.D.
"We are saddened to learn of the Death of Dr. Francis A. Kornegay. Dr. Kornegay served as the 3rd President/CEO of the Detroit Urban League from 1960 to 1978. Francis Kornegay was a powerful force with the Urban League and the human and civil rights movement. His contributions are immeasurable and he will be sadly missed. Kornegay began his illustrious career with the Detroit Urban League in 1944 as Vocational Secretary.
"The 1940s marked a tense time in American History for African Americans around the country. Black soldiers returning from WWII were being treated viciously and often got into fights with White servicemen. Large-scale use of Black workers in many war industries did not begin until the White labor supply was almost completely exhausted.
"Blacks comprised only 12 percent of all government civil workers in 1944, primarily in custodial, clerical-administrative, and clerical-mechanical positions and only 1.1 percent held professional and subprofessional jobs with the United States government. In addition, there were only 79 Black electrical engineers in the entire country.
"Kornegay was acutely aware of the problems affecting Blacks, who were migrating in large numbers from the South in the 1930s, to seek factory jobs in the North, especially in Michigan. As Vocational Secretary, his primary responsibility was to identify employment opportunities for Blacks in Detroit and open doors to jobs that were previously non-existent.
"Kornegay stayed loyal to the Urban League movement and to human and civil rights. He was elevated to Assistant Executive Director of the Detroit Urban League in 1956. America was deep in the mist of a civil rights revolution and Blacks were aggressively seeking fair and equal status in all areas of life. In 1960, Francis Kornegay was appointed to Executive Director of the Detroit Urban League, following John Dancy's retirement.
"He placed strong emphasis on Urban League initiatives that centered on programs in employment, education, health and research. The 12th Street Academy was opened in 1968 and the John C. Dancy Street Academy, focusing on alternative educational programs for young people, opened in 1975. The League conducted a hypertension screening program and mobilized some 400 block clubs and groups in its Citizen Campaign on Crime Prevention and Leadership Development. Equal Opportunity Day and a special luncheon were used to recognize the achievements of local businesses in promoting equal opportunities for workers.
"Kornegay published several well-known research reports including 'The Detroit Low-Income Negro Family,' 'A Profile of the Detroit Negro, 1959-1967,' and a survey of residents on 12th Street after the 1967 riots. A grant from the McGregor Fund allowed the Detroit Urban League to establish The John C. Dancy Library on Negro Life and History.
"Francis Kornegay retired as President of the Detroit Urban League in 1978 and was subsequently elected by the Board of Directors as President Emeritus of the Detroit Urban League. Francis Kornegay is known throughout the United States as a champion for youth, concerned for the social welfare of the poor and disenfranchised and the elimination of human suffering. Before his death, Kornegay traveled extensively in Asia and Europe."
N. Charles Anderson is President/CEO of the Detroit Urban League.