Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Barbara Barbieri McGrath (1953–) Biography - Personal to Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930) Biography » Marc H. Morial Biography - Entered Mayoral Race, Curbed Crime In New Orleans, Earned Respect As Mayor And Organization Leader

Marc H. Morial - Earned Respect As Mayor And Organization Leader

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Some of Morial's detractors pointed out that the overall violent crime rate had dropped nationwide, and that the mayor and his policies did not deserve full credit for the drop in crime in New Orleans. However, Morial remained extremely popular within the city's African American community and he easily won a re-election bid in 1998. Poll results showed that Morial had received 93 percent of the city's African American vote and 43 percent of the white vote.

In his second term, Morial continued his efforts to clean up and improve New Orleans. He focused on maintaining and re-opening many of the city's parks and recreation facilities, rebuilding and repairing historic Canal Street, and expanding the city's convention center and airport. As his second term came near its end, speculation had begun regarding Morial's plans. Morial so enjoyed his position as mayor that in 2001 he gathered enough signatures to vote on rescinding the mayoral term limit requirements, so that he could run for a third term in office. His effort did not work, however, and he soon sought other work. Ebony writer Muriel L. Whetstone asked Morial what he hoped his legacy would be. "We want to leave a mark that we took a city that was dying and we reinvigorated it, we revitalized it," Morial told the magazine. "Also that we, in a very real way, created an opportunity for the African-American community to participate in the economics of this community, and that's a tough challenge."

After leaving the mayor's office, Morial accepted a new challenge; this time one with national impact. He became president and CEO of the National Urban League in 2003. A community-based civil rights group formed in 1910, the National Urban League Morial took over had a budget of $40 million and over 100 affiliates. Great things were expected from Morial, the man who turned around the "murder capital" as New Orleans was often referred before his tenure. "Anyone who can successfully manage a city like New Orleans and turn it around like he has done demonstrates he has a capacity to lead," the National Urban League's search committee chairman, Charles Hamilton Jr., told Jet. For his part, Morial knew exactly how he wanted to lead the organization. "We are in [the] post-Civil Rights Era where the work of so many organizations is respected in history and not understood in a contemporary context, and that is going to be one of our challenges, so that people understand what our role is," he explained to Jet. From the outset, Morial set a new course for the organization, embarking on a plan he called an "Empowerment Agenda." Citing the inequality that plagued the lives of black Americans, Morial focused his agenda on educating youth, connecting blacks with meaningful employment, addressing healthcare issues in the black community, taking positive steps toward civil and racial justice, and promoting civic engagement.

Sources

Periodicals

Black Collegian, October 2003, p. 106.

Ebony, November 1994, p. 80; August 2003, p. 28; April 12, 2004, p. 4; August 2004, p. 18.

Jet, February 21, 1994, p. 8; March 21, 1994, p. 4; June 2, 2003, p. 4; August 25, 2003, p. 4; August 23, 2004, p. 6.

Nation's Cities Weekly, November 6, 1995, p. 3.

New York Times, February 27, 1994, p. 20; March 27, 1994, p. 24; February 17, 1998, p. A10.

PR Newswire, May 10, 2002.

Washington Post, January 6, 1995, p. A21.

On-line

Marc H. Morial, www.marchmorial.com (April 27, 2005).

National Urban League, www.nul.org (April 27, 2005).

—Carol Brennan and Sara Pendergast

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