The Annual
Ruby Hurley Celebration

The story of Ruby Hurley
Early life and education
Ruby Ruffin was born on November 7, 1909, in Washington, D.C., to Alice and Edward R. Ruffin. After she graduated from Dunbar High School in 1926, she attended Miner Teachers College and Robert H. Terrell Law School. She worked briefly for the federal government and at the Industrial Bank of Washington. She married William L. Hurley, a lieutenant in the US Army Corps of Engineers.
In 1939, Hurley was on a committee that was tasked with arranging for a performance from Marian Anderson, an African-American opera singer who had been barred from singing at Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution. The committee was able to secure a venue change and Anderson performed at an open-air concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before a crowd of 75,000.
Career with the NAACP
For the next four years, Hurley worked reorganizing the D.C. branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), bolstering their youth council. Walter Francis White, who headed the NAACP, appointed Hurley to the position of national Youth Secretary in 1943. She moved to New York City and stayed in that role until 1950. Hurley traveled across the country organizing youth councils and college chapters, increasing their number from 86 to over 280 during her tenure.
In 1951, she moved from New York to Birmingham, Alabama, to set up an NAACP office and oversee membership drives in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. It was the first permanent NAACP office located in the Deep South. She became Regional Secretary of the NAACP's newly formed Southeast Regional Office the following year. In 1955, Hurley joined with civil rights activists Amzie Moore and Medgar Evers, who was Field Secretary at the NAACP's Mississippi office, in investigating the murders of minister George W. Lee and 14-year-old Emmett Till. In order to interview witnesses for Till's case, Hurley wore cotton picker's clothes. Following the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954, Hurley worked to implement racial integration in the South. While she practiced Christian nonviolence, she appeared on the cover of Jet magazine's October 6, 1955, issue with a caption reading "Most Militant Negro Woman In The South". In 1956, Hurley helped to prepare the case of Autherine Lucy to be allowed to attend the University of Alabama. Hurley's efforts were met with open hostility and she suffered from fatigue and weight loss. Her house was attacked and she received obscene telephone calls. Following a riot at the University of Alabama campus, black taxi drivers offered protection, circling her home.
Hurley was forced to flee Alabama in the night on June 1, 1956, after the state barred the NAACP from operating there. She moved to Atlanta where she opened a regional office four months later. The headquarters became a focal point for civil rights organizers and Hurley worked alongside Vernon Jordan. Jordan and Fredericka Thompson Bradley assisted Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Hamilton E. Holmes in gaining admission to the University of Georgia in 1961. Following the assassination of Medgar Evers in 1963, Hurley convinced his widow Myrlie to have him interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
Death and legacy
Hurley retired on March 31, 1978, and served as president of United Methodist Women. She died on August 9, 1980, in Atlanta. The Chattanooga–Hamilton County NAACP hosts an annual Ruby Hurley Image Awards. In 2009, Hurley was featured alongside Ella Baker on a 42-cent stamp.

Ruby Hurley, Civil Rights Leader
​(November 7, 1909 – August 9, 1980)
Andrew Young- Keynote Speaker
Ruby Hurley Image Awards 2018

Courtesy Credit-GPB Education

Andrew Young, Jr., came into prominence as a civil rights activist and close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during the modern civil rights movement in the United States.  Young worked with various organizations early in the movement, but his civil rights work was largely done with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) where he served as an executive director and later executive vice president.  Young served on the Board of Directors until 1972.

Young was born into a prosperous upper-middle-class family on March 12, 1932 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Daisy Fuller, a school teacher, and Andrew Jackson Young, Sr., a Howard University-educated dentist.  Young, Sr. moved the family from Franklin, Louisiana to New Orleans.  Young, Sr., believed the move was necessary to take advantage of educational opportunities for Andrew and his younger brother Walter Young (b. 1934).

Andrew Young Jr. entered the Gilbert Academy—the urban preparatory academy for Dillard University—at the age of 11 and graduated from Gilbert at age 15.  Because of his age, Young attended nearby Dillard University for a year and then transferred to Howard University during his sophomore year.  It was at Howard University, Young noted, that he learned to “embrace the strengths of the black middle class.”

Young earned a B.S. degree in Pre-Med (biology) from Howard University (1951), but chose to become a minister.  He attended Hartford Theological Seminary and graduated with a degree in divinity in 1955.  Soon afterwards he became a pastor at Bethany Congregational Church in Thomasville, Georgia.  In 1961 Young resigned his pastoral position and joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which had been founded in Atlanta by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. three years earlier.  Young quickly emerged as a trusted lieutenant of King and served as a principal strategist and negotiator during the Civil Rights Campaigns in Birmingham and Selma, Alabama that resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In 1972, Andrew Young became the first African American elected to the United States Congress from Georgia since Reconstruction.  Young served as a twice-re-elected Congressional Representative from the 5th district from 1973 to 1977.  After the election of fellow Georgian Jimmy Carter as President in 1976, Young was appointed by Carter to serve as the US Ambassador to the United Nations.  There, Young was a consistent critic of white minority rule in South Africa and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).  His support for liberation movements in both nations led him to make statements critical of Great Britain and other American allies for their role in supporting the regimes.  Young was forced to resign, however, after meeting with leaders of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1979, which was at that time designated a terrorist group by the United States government.

In 1981 Young was elected Mayor of Atlanta and served in this capacity until 1990 when he ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Georgia.  During his tenure as Mayor he brought the 1996 Olympic Games to Atlanta.

Young had four children with his first wife, Jean Childs Young, who passed in 1994.  Young married Carolyn McClain Young in 1996.  A member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, he heads the Andrew Young Foundation and teaches in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta.  He is also a managing partner of GoodWorks International, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in market access and political risk analysis.  At GoodWorks, Young continues to advocate for African political and economic self-sufficiency.

Andrew Young has published and edited several books.  He has been awarded numerous distinctions, citations, and honorary degrees, including the American Medal of Freedom and the French Legion d’ Honnuer.

Andrew Young, Andrew Young: An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movements and the Transformation of America, (New York: Harper-Collins, 1996); Adam Fairclough, To Redeem the Soul of America: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987); Elizabeth Heath, “Young, Andrew,” Africana: The Encyclopedia of African and African American Experience, Eds., Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates (New York: Preseus, 1999); 

Are you interested in being a sponsor in the upcoming
NAACP 31st Annual Ruby Hurley Image Award celebration? Download your application now!

NAACP 31st Annual Ruby Hurley Image Award

DATE: October 18, 2018

TIME 6:00PM TIL 8:00PM

Patricia Shackleford-Gray, Event Chair 
Dr. Elenora Woods. NAACP President


The Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP holds an annual celebration on the life of Ruby Hurley. If you would like to volunteer your time or donate to this special annual event, please fill out the information boxes below, and someone on our staff will contact you. Thank you.