Whitney M. Young Jr., one of the most celebrated – and controversial – leaders of the civil rights era is the subject of a new film, The Powerbroker, being screened by Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute on Sept. 27.

 As head of the National Urban League, he helped thousands of people struggling against discrimination. Unique among black leaders, he took the fight directly to the powerful white elite, gaining allies in business and government, including three presidents. He was the man working behind the scenes, shaking the right hands, making the right deals, and opening the doors of opportunity for all Americans.

The Powerbroker follows Young’s journey from segregated Kentucky to the national campaign for equal rights. During the turbulent 60s, he was a diplomat between those in power and those striving for change. Young had the difficult tasks of calming the fears of white allies, relieving the doubts of fellow civil rights leaders, and responding to attacks from the militant black power movement. This complex tale explores the public and private trials of the man at the center of the storm.

The film will be shown as part of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute/Houston Institute Film Series on Thursday, Sept. 27, at 6 p.m. in Austin, Hall, Ames Courtroom at Harvard Law School. The screening is free of charge and open to the public. A discussion will be held afterwards. For more information, visit the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice website.

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