Topping off celebrates progress on National Urban League’s future Harlem headquarters

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New York Construction Report staff writer

The National Urban League recently held a topping off celebration this week to mark construction progress at the Urban Empowerment Center, the League’s future headquarters in Harlem.

Officials held the event on the building’s fourth floor, the new space for the Urban Civil Rights Museum, New York’s first museum dedicated to civil rights.

The $242 million, 414,000-square-foot center is being called one of the most significant economic development projects in Harlem’s recent history.

“The convergence of ambitious, motivated Black people from around the country with employment opportunities created by World War I exploded into the Harlem Renaissance,”  said Marc H. Morial, National Urban League president and CEO.  “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.”

Located on Harlem’s “Main Street,” 125th Street, near the Apollo Theater and the Studio Museum in Harlem, the development will include the National Urban League’s headquarters, the Urban Civil Rights Museum Experience, National Urban League Institute for Race, Equity and Justice and 170 affordable housing units, below-market office space for non-profits and community groups.

The project received city, state, and federal funding , including more than $110 million in state grants from Empire State Development and the Department of Housing and Community Renewal.

“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,” said Jennifer Scott, Urban Civil Rights Museum executive director and chief curator.

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