WEST PALM BEACH — Media executive Yvette Miley credits being raised in Riviera Beach with helping keep her on the right path to success. Now living in New York City, Miley serves as a senior vice president and editor at MSNBC and TheGrio.com. Next month, the Urban League of Palm Beach County will recognize her 20 years of accomplishments when it presents her with its Lifetime Achievement.
Former NAACP president/CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous will deliver the keynote address at the event slated for May 15 in downtown West Palm Beach.
Jealous was named to head the NACP in 2008 at age 35, the youngest person to lead the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, resigning in 2013.
The Urban League will also recognize two young people: Daisy Coates, a member of the group’s National Achievers Society, and Tyler Wright, a member of its National Urban League Incentive To Excel and Succeed (NULITES) youth organization.
Miley said the local community’s involvement in her life helped keep her on the right track when she was a youth.
“When you live in Riviera Beach, often type-cast as a poor, crime ridden, minority neighborhood, [it’s difficult]. But I am a product of my environment and neighbors,” she said. “If I would get in trouble on the bus, my neighbor, Ms. Davis, would call my mom before I’d get off the bus.”
Miley graduated from Suncoast Community High School in Riviera Beach. She said her teachers would tell her that though she never made the honor roll, she certainly had the ability. “My mom had a third-grade education but tried to expose me to a world I’d never known,” Miley said.
Urban League president/CEO Patrick Franklin said as the organization heads into its 41st year, he would like local communities to know about the high level of quality services and programs available to them. “The biggest challenge is getting our message out to everyone about us. We have to continue to make sure that we are focused on our mission. If not, we’re going to be spread too thin,” he said.
Franklin said bridging the digital divide in minority communities is of paramount importance because not all those whom the organization serves are hooked up to the Internet.
According to the Urban League’s mission statement, its goal is to assist African Americans and other minorities in the achievement of social and economic equality.
The local branch was incorporated in May of 1973 and became an affiliate of the National Urban League a year later. Youth, education, economic, community and health empowerment is promoted by providing jobs, job skills training, college prep and other free programs and services, he said.
“The biggest contribution the Urban League has made is being the hub of the community and offering programs that people need to sustain themselves, help find a job and stay in their homes,” Franklin said. “We serve 16,000 on an annual basis right now. We are a known and a trusted entity.”
Redeveloping historically black neighborhoods, which promotes job creation, is an area on which the Urban League continues to focus its attention, Franklin said. “We’ve taken a very strong position on our community redevelopment such as downtown West Palm Beach, theColeman Park district and the restored community service building on Tamarind Avenue, with new services that have provided a great boost to that neighborhood,” he said.
It doesn’t matter in what neighborhood a person is raised or his or her specific backgrounds; anyone can be successful and be a positive influence, Miley said. “Nightly news was something we watched as a family. It peaked my interest,” she said. “I worked for the school newspaper at Suncoast High School and volunteered at the radio station and television station at [the University of Florida].”
Miley said it wasn’t an easy transition to the top but she endured because she was passionate about her career choice. “It was hard but you have to live your passion. You have to have the stamina to stick it out through the tough times, to survive the ‘no’s,’” she said. “I was the first African American and first woman in a lot of newsrooms.”
The Urban League of Palm Beach County’s 40th annual Equal Opportunity Day Awards Luncheon will be held Thursday, May 15 at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, 650 Okeechobee Blvd. in downtown West Palm Beach.
Tickets for the luncheon are $125 each and $1,500 per sponsored table. For more information, call 561-833-1461.