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*Lester Granger was born on this date in 1896. He was a Black civic leader.
From Newport News, Va., Lester Blackwell Granger was one of six sons whose father was a doctor from Barbados, his mother was a teacher. He grew up in Newark, NJ., and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1918. after serving in the US Army during World War I, he worked briefly for the Newark chapter of the National Urban League (NUL). In 1922, Granger was an extension worker with the New Jersey state vocational school for Black youth in Bordentown where he stayed until 1934. During this time, he also organized the Los Angels chapter of the NUL. In 1934, he led the organization's efforts to promote trade unionism among Black workers and challenge racism by employers and labor organizations.
In 1940 Granger was chosen as the NUL’s assistant executive secretary in charge of industrial relations a post he stayed with for the next twenty years. During World War II he was an up and down participant in the effort to eliminate segregation in the military and in defense employment. When the American Civil Rights Movement of 1950 began, and insistence on a more aggressive approach became the norm, Granger insisted that the NUL continue its strategy of “education and persuasion,” a position that prevailed. He remained a leading figure over the years in social work, serving as president of the National Conference of Social Work in 1952.
Granger retired from the NUL in 1961, then joining the faculty of Dillard University in New Orleans, La. In 1972 he was named Amistad Scholar in Residence at Dillard, Lester Granger died in Alexandria, La. I January 1976.
The Encyclopedia of African American Heritage
by Susan Altman
Copyright 1997, Facts on File, Inc.