On August 30, 1907, at Silver Bay, a young man named George Edmund Haynes delivered the annual report of the Colored Men’s Department of the International Committee of the YMCA. Haynes had been working as a secretary of the Colored Men’s Department, tasked with visiting Black colleges in southern states, encouraging students to achieve scholastic excellence, and helping Black colleges set high academic standards.
The Colored Men’s Department was formally organized in 1890, but the YMCA had been reaching out to African-Americans since before the Civil War. Haynes was an apt representative. He held a B.A. from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and an M.A. from Yale. While studying at the University of Chicago during the summers of 1906 and 1907, he became interested in the social problems affecting Black migrants from the south.
In 1912, Haynes earned a PhD from Columbia University. While studying, Haynes was instrumental in merging three groups into what is today known as the National Urban League; he served as its executive director from 1911 to 1918. Haynes also established the Association of Negro Colleges and Secondary Schools, and served as secretary of that organization from 1910 to 1918. He was a professor of economics and sociology at Fisk. While on leave from Fisk, from 1918 to 1921, he worked at the United States Department of Labor on matters of racial conflict in employment, housing and recreation.
In addition to teaching and publishing, Haynes surveyed the YMCA’s work in South Africa in 1930, and in other African nations in 1947. Deeply committed and apparently tireless, George Edmund Haynes continued to teach, write and work for social justice until his death in 1960, at the age of 80.