Knox College Struggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
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Galesburg Conference on Civil Rights summary
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TitleGalesburg Conference on Civil Rights summary
DescriptionSummary of the Galesburg Conference on Civil Rights held in Galesburg, Illinois on February 12, 1948.
SubjectRace relations
Named PersonMcCrimmon, James M.; Bickham, Martin H.; Beasley, Carey; Sabetti, Ralph; Lawrence, Mark; Stipp, John; Lohman, Joseph D.; Goodwin, William; Fletcher, Clifford; Robinson, Ben;
AuthorJenkins, Alan
Time Period1940s
Date Created (original)February 12, 1948
IdentifierJ. Howell Atwood Manuscript Collection (box 9)
CollectionStruggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
Date Digital2012-08-02

Alan Jenkins

In our conference two shadows have been over us. There has been the
beneficient shadow of Lincoln; there has been the ominous one of those anti-
democratic forces which, in our country today, work for the abridgement or
denial of civil rights.

These shadows are also across the pages of the report of the President's
Committee on Civil Rights -- a report referred to in several of our ses-

It is important to note, as several of our speakers have indicated with-
out using our particular metaphor, that while we Americans tend to focus
upon Lincoln's shadow as it falls across our folk-ways and our institutions,
the rest of the world pays more attention to that other shadow. Otherwise
expressed, we tend to judge ourselves by our ideals; other people scrutinize
our actions. Hence the opening statement this morning by Dr. James M.
McCrimmon -- "Our conference theme ("with liberty and justice for all")
is full of embarassment for all."

Dr. Martin H. Bickham spoke on "New Frontiers in Civil Rights". Pointing
out that our society is still largely one of uncertainty and hazard -- that
our civil rights are still in a frontier context -- Dr. Bickham stressed
the right of safety of person, the right to work, and the right to decent
housing. In our efforts to give these rights legal and living status, he
asked us to remember that in a democracy an attack upon the rights of one
is an attack upon the rights of all. He named the New Racism and the pres-
sures of total war as special factors in today's interracial problem. He
suggested that we see our struggle in the light of the development of civil
liberties in western culture from Magna Charta on -- that is, that we get
historical perspective on our own efforts, realizing, among other things,
that our local conference is not "an isolated event".

In the ensuing panel discussion Carey Beasley, Ralph Sabetti, Mark Law-


rence, [Lawrence] and Dr. John Stipp were participants. After a "warm-up" of comment
on the impressive personnel of the President's Civil Rights Committee and
on the importance of its report, the panel largely resolved itself into a
discussion concerning the relative importance of legislation and education
in the extension of democracy. The educational value of constructive legis-
lation was pointed out. All seemed to agree, finally, that legislation and
education aimed at a functioning "Bill of Rights" are both desirable and
both necessary.

At our luncheon session Dr. Joseph D. Lohman sketched the inter-racial
significance of the development of modern industry. Modern technology has
(1) made peoples intimately interdependent (2) itself become dependent upon
the cooperarion of all groups. In connection with the first point, Dr. Loh-
man indicated that racial frontiers are now within rather than nat-
ions. Our choice today, as a result, is not "Shall we live together?";
our one choice is "How shall we live together?"

Dr. Lohman suggested that a prejudice is often a practice rationalized.
Also that a prejudice is often a frustration in disguise. Insufficiency of
income, power, and status, he said, are at the bottom of much prejudice. A
ranting Rankin is an embodiment of this fact. Rankin represents a host of
frustrations, big and little, finding outlet in vitriolic talk and noisy conceit.

Our luncheon speaker stated that the following are among the scientific
generalizations of today: There is no evidence to support the belief in
significant differences among races; there is no race which is not capable of
taking over any culture; our race-beliefs arise out of our social, educa-
tional, and economic environment.

Following Dr. Lohman's talk there were Round Table Discussions. In the
one on Education (so chairman William Goodwin later reported) endorsement
was given to the report of the President's "Commission on Higher Education" -
a report urging the widening and lifting to higher levels of educational
(via, for example, the lowering of fees and the dropping of quota systems).

# 3

The present increased importance of adult education was discussed. One of
the out-of-towners paid tribute to the local High School for its democratic
teachings and practices.

The Round Table on "Public Places" revealed spotty local observance of
the Civil Rights Laws of the state.

In the session on "Recreation" the local need for more neighborhood recre-
tion was stressed. The fact of a segregated beach was deplored and hope was
expressed for its abolishment. The group felt that community-wide recreation
is not, for a healthy society, an elective; it is a necessity.

Around the "Housing" Table chairman Clifford Fletcher saw the need for fed-
eral handling of the post-war housing crisis. The group united in the ideal
of the "creation of such supply of housing that each family can enjoy whole-
some living".

In the session on "Law Enforcement" State's Attorney Ben Robinson pointed
out the difficulty and even impossibility of enforcement of Civil Rights Laws
lacking genuine public support for such laws, It is his opinion that at-
tempted enforcement without such support must always fail and, in failing,
aggravate rather than better inter-group relations. He recognizes local
violations; he asks for more support as a basis for successful prosecution.

At 4 P.M. this afternoon the Illinois Interracial Commission met. At
6:15 we met for dinner with Kenneth Peel, representative in our state legis-
lature, presiding and with the Illini Quartet singing.

Now we are here and we confidently expect Dr. Bradley to bring our day to
a good close as he stands in the long, beneficient shadow of Abraham Lincoln.

Physical Description3 typed 8.5 x 11 in. onionskin sheets
FilenameA Summary -- Galesburg Conference on Civil Rights.pdf
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