National Urban League seeking to build ties with China

National Urban League seeking to build ties with China

February 27th, 2012 by Yolanda Putman in News

Warren E. Logan, Jr., President & CEO of the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Americans are competing in a global workforce and the Urban League wants to make sure that blacks in America are part of it.

The National Urban League took its first delegation of blacks to visit China in 2010. Warren Logan, executive director of the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga, was part of the second delegation, which returned from a weeklong trip to Beijing and Xian this month.

Logan said the group is discussing possible Chinese investment in black businesses and schools.

"Our purpose is to expand beyond our civil rights organization's goal for equality in the U.S. to equality worldwide," said Logan, who co-led the 16-member delegation.

"Understanding various cultures is a first step to positioning us to compete more effectively in the 21st century," he said.

China's trade with Africa has increased from $1 billion to $100 billion in the past 10 years, according to Black Enterprise.com.

With more than 1.3 billion people, China is the world's most populous country. And its population is growing so quickly that it is imperative that blacks learn as much as possible about the Chinese, Logan said.

He said his goal is to take students from the Urban League's STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program to China when a delegation visits again.

Logan and other leaders were co-hosted by the China-United States Exchange Foundation and the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs. They met with China's top government ministries and civic organizations, including the Ministry of Education; China International Cooperation Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, State Ethnic Affairs Commission of the People's Republic of China and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, according to the Urban League's news release.

"We want young people to see what is going on over there in terms of science, engineering, technology and math so that they will have more of a global perspective, said Logan. "Not just limited to the state of Tennessee, but to understand that one day, 'I might be competing with them.'"

Former Hamilton County Schools science teacher Mary Edwards said she hopes her 16-year-old daughter Simone Edwards is among local students who get to travel to China.

"It would be a wonderful opportunity to see the world and for her to see competitively what she will deal with," said Edwards, who also is the Urban League's education coordinator.

The Urban League's first visit to China in 2010 resulted in a Confucius Institute being started at Xavier University in Louisiana this year.

It was the first Confucius Institute -- a program to help students learn more about Chinese culture -- held at a historically black college or university. There are about 80 Confucius Institutes in the world.