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Since 1976, the month of February has been designated Black History Month, although its roots trace back to a 1915 celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the Thirteenth Amendment that abolished slavery in the U.S.  As a historically Black organization founded in 1980 — a mere four years after the first Black History Month — I take special pride in the small but meaningful part URI has played in the Black history of the U.S. through our mission, our impact, and our leadership.

Uplifting the Black Community

Across the more than four decades of our work, URI’s doors have always been open to everyone. But within this openness, it is important to remember that URI was originally founded on the mission to support and uplift the Black community, which was not common 43 years ago.  URI has always been a pioneer in empowering vulnerable populations. Fast forward to today, and our mission areas of domestic violence and homelessness continue to disproportionately impact the Black community, and entrenched racism and prejudice still impede many Black lives. Through it all, URI has continued to be a beacon of hope and help.

Reflecting those We Serve

One particular point of pride is URI leadership that reflects the community we serve.  From our original founder in 1980 through today, URI continues to be among the small minority of major nonprofits led by people of color, in particular Black individuals.  I have the great privilege to be among the very few Black CEOs of large nonprofits, and our Senior and Executive Teams include 11 Black and brown individuals among our total of 18. This helps bring to life the adage “if you can see it, you can be it.”

URI values all of our clients and staff, but we have particular pride in our heritage during Black History Month.

Nat Fields