Knox College Struggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
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Suggested Outline of the Organization and Activities of Municipal Interracial Commissions
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TitleSuggested Outline of the Organization and Activities of Municipal Interracial Commissions
DescriptionA directive from the Illinois Interracial Commission outlining organizational goals and activities of municipal interracial commissions.
SubjectRace relations
Named PersonBickham, Martin Hayes;
AuthorIllinois Interracial Commission
Time Period1940s
Date Created (original)January 26, 1944
IdentifierJ. Howell Atwood Manuscript Collection (box 9 folder 52)
CollectionStruggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
Date Digital2013-02-15

Governor Dwight H. Green of Illinois, in announcing the appoint­

ment of a State Interracial Commission, said:

"The supreme achievement of our American republic
has been the success with which men and women of
all races and creeds have worked together. Illi­
nois and its great metropolis of Chicago have been
conspicuous examples of harmony and neighborliness
among a population of mixed racial origins.

"Preservation of that spirit of harmony is particu­
larly important in these days, but it is a lasting
and permanent problem for our people. We have all
been alarmed by recent outbreaks of racial strife
in other states and we are determined to prevent any
such tragedy in Illinois.

"To that end, I have appointed a Commission of four­
teen outsta.nding citizens of Illinois, seven whites
and seven Negroes, to constitute an interracial com­
mission for Illinois. I am asking them to investi­
gate every phase of a difficult problem--housing,
employment, etc.--to suggest measures and policies
not merely to prevent disturbances in our State but
to seek lasting improvement and a better mutual
understanding among our people."

Since it is apparent that race problems are local in their origin,
it was decided at the first meeting of the Illinois Interracial Commis­
sion to study the origins and causes of race discord by operating, to
the fullest extent possible, in cooperation with the municipalities of
Illinois. The members of the Commission agreed that an appeal should
be directed through the Governor to the mayors of cities in Illinois
requesting thorn to appoint interracial commissions. As early as
October 1943, positive action ho.d been taken by mayors of several

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Illinois cities.
The information contained in this outline is designed for use
by groups interested in race relations in America such as officially
appointed municipal interracial commissions. The first section pre­
sents suggestions which may be used in the organization of effective
interracial commissions, and the second outlines specific areas of
racial tension with respect to which such commissions may direct
studies and take action.


The appointing officer or selecting body should enlist persons
who are interested in and familiar with problems of race relations,
including members of minority groups.
Commission Chairman. A person who is acquainted with and inter­
ested in the prOblems affecting the races should be selected for this
important post.
Commission Members. Persons whose minds are open and who are
sincerely interested in the achievement of better relations between
the races should be appointed to the Commission.
Subcommittees. Care should be exercised in the selection of
Commission members to study given areas of racial tension. Subcom­
mittees should be small, possibly not more than three persons. Their
objective should be mainly as suggested in Section II of this report.
Subcommittees should (a) determine the source and extent of the racial

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tension and (b) work with local communities to resolve the diffi­
Program. The program adopted by an interracial commission
should reflect positive objectives based upon the nature and extent
of tension as revealed by subcommittee reports.
Records. Provisions should be made for the accurate recording of
information to be used by the personnel or other interested per­
Meetings. Regular meeting dates are advisable. Semi-monthly
meetings are suggested if best results are to be obtained, but meet­
ings should be held at least once each month.
Good Will. The promotion of good will Among the races should
be the immediate goal of every interracial commission. One of the
purposes of this good will is to get a functioning demonstration
of democracy in public schools, social welfare agencies, health de­
partments, police departments, and the like, that will secure the
rights of every minority group. To accomplish this, it is herein
suggested that (a) a long-range program to reduce prejudice and
racial intolerance be planned by using educational materials best
suited to the community, placing stress upon the principles of
democracy with special reference to civil rights and by calling
attention to the contributions of minority groups to American civil­
ization; 1/ and (b) by using positive methods to create good will

1/ King , Bessie S., and Morgan, Madeline R. --"Supplementary Units for
the Course of Study in Social Studies, " adopted by the Chicago
Board of Education, for use in the public schools.

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such as making use of the radio, creating a sympathetic interest
among members of labor organizations, and making full use of the

The SUbjects in the following outline are suggestod for use by
members of subcommittees of local and municipal interracial com­
missions. Tho State Interracial Commission has developed certain
objective studies of racial situations in the State of Illinois
which will be made available for committees upon request. The areas
of friction betweon the races toward which local interracial com­
mittees should direct their attention are as follows:
A. Recial tension in the schools.
1. Study policy and procedure of the school board and
the school.
2. Study expressed attitudes of teachers.
3. Investigate method of selecting teachers as well as
of selecting text books.
B. Racial tension in recreational centers.
1. Ascertain attitudes of management toward minority
2. Detemine ownership of centers (public and private,
name of manager.)
3. Evaluate the policies used by the management. If there

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are changes of policy, note date and allegod reason
for change.
4. Determine length of periods of supervision und non­
5. Determine whether swimming pool is open to mixed groups
at all times or whether minority groups are relegated
to undesirable and limited periods.
C. Racial Tension Arising out of Housing Problems.
1. Review existing restrictive covenants.
2. Determine occasion for the display of tension.
(Limited housing, ovorcrowding, etc.)
3. Determine date of most recent change in policy, rentals,
management or ownership.
4. Promote, where possible, adequate public housing pro­
5. Study slum districts.
D. Racial Tension Arising out of Employer-Employee Relation­
1. Determine the condition of the labor market.
2. Secure facts concerning policies used in the selection
of employees.
3. Determine localities from which labor is drawn and the
occasion for the tension.

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E. Racial Tension between Employees on the Job.
1. Ascertain activities of labor union representatives
on the job or in the neighborhood.
2. Determine policies with regard to promotioms on the
3. Ascertain attitude of local personnel directors.
4. Determine the number of industries or business establish­
ments where minori ty groups are given employment only
as porters, etc., irrespective of training or skills.
F. Racial Tension in the Operation of Public Transportation
1. Evaluate the nature and source of the tension, giving
specific instances of friction.
2. Deternine the adequacy of the facilities.
3. Study methods of relieving the tension.
4. Suggest employment of members of minority groups, as
a means of reducing friction.
G. Racial Tension Arising out of the Lack of Adquate and Com­
petent Professional Services.
1. Itemize places, professions or services from which mem­
bers of minority groups are excluded.
2. Ascertain extent to which qualified persons in minority
groups are excluded from professional organizations and

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services, and the excuses offered for such exclusions.
3. Study the statutory provisions for sanitation and the
extent to which such provisions are enforced in com­
munities where minority groups reside.
H. Racial Tension in the Field of Relief and Welfare.
1. Study existing policy to determine if there is discrimin­
2. Ascertain whether relief budgets used locally are in
accordance with the accepted standard budget for
the area. 2/
3. Investigate the participation of minority groups in the
welfare program, on advisory boards and on the staff of
welfare agencies.
I. Racial Tension Arising Out of a Laxity on the Part of the
Law-Enforcing Agents (such as State's Attorney, Chief of
Police, Sheriff.)
1. Investigate the possibility of political influence on
law-enforcing agents in the community.
2. Study the pOSSible existence of social vices in viola­
tion of laws and ordinances.
3. Study the attitudes of the personnel of the law-enforcing
agency in cases of alleged discrimination.

2/ Information may be secured from the State Public Aid Commission.

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4. Determine attitudes in the light of Civil Rights Laws.
J. Racial Tension Arising out of the Oper&tion of the Selective
Service System and the Treatment Accorded Members of Minor­
ity Groups While in the Armed Services.
1. Investigate reports of unlawful discriminatory practices
in the camps or community.
2. Study the source of the reports.
3. Determine the policy of the Selective Service Board, the
Army, or the local governmental agency effecting such
4. Ascertain the extent to which recrectional opportunities
are offered to members of minority groups in the armed
forces when on leave.
K. Racial Tension aroused by the Practice of Excluding Minority
Groups from Political Activities or Governmontal Partici­
1. Study existing infractions in the light of the democratic
2. Investigate the exclusion of members of minority groups
in elections and at the polls, where it exists.
L. Racial Tension Arising from Disruptive and Subversive Propa­
1. Investigate instances of what appears to be propaganda

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designed to incite racial stress whether in the press
or other publications.
2. Trace rumors.
3. Expose subversive factors in the community.
This outline, which is sUbmitted for consideration by local
interrncial commissions and interested agencies, is not an exhaustive
one; it is rather composed of suggestions designed to stimulate think­
ing and activity on the part of those who review it. For this pur­
pose, the several areas in which racial tension is growing heve been
It will become the responsibility of the municipcl interracial
commissions to inform the responsible governmentnl officials of
activities in the municipnlity leading toward or aggravating
racial tension and to urge prompt action on the part of responsible govern­
mental officials.
New basics which have emerged because of our changing economic
structure--the right of all persons to a job, adequate education,
healthful surroundings, and proper living conditions--should be the
ultimate objective of municipal interracial commissions aS they are
of the State Commission, since the achievement of these objectives
will constitute a substantial stride toward improving race relations.

Approved by Action of the Illinois Interracial
Commission, January 26, 1944.
Dr. Martin Hayes Bickham, Chairman
Room 1022, 19 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Ill.



Permanent Periodicals:

1. "The Negro Digest, " published monthly at 3507 South Park­
Way, ChicagO, by the Negro Digest Publishing Company.
Subscription rates: $3 a year; $5 two years.

2. "The Journal of Negro History, " published by the Associetion
for the Study of Negro Life and History, Inc., 1538 Ninth
Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., published quarterly at $4
a year.

3. "The Crisis, " published by the Crisis Publishing Co., 69 -
5th Ave., Now York - official orgen of the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Sub­
scription rate, $1.50 a year.


1. "The Nation, " October 9, 1943; p. 418.

2. "The New Republic, " November 8, 1943; p. 651 - A Lesson
in Democracy, by Oliver Kirkprtrick.

3. "Senior Scholastic, " November 15, 1943; p. 14 - Race,
Color and Prejudice.

4. "Survey Graphic, " November 1943; p. 441 - The Sourth Marches
On, by Virginius Dabney.

5. "Interracial Review, " July 1943 - The Cause of Race Riots,
by John LaFurge.


1. "The South in American History, " by Wiilliam B. Hesseltine.
(New York: Prentiss Hall, Inc., 1943, Pp. 691, price $4.)

2. "Delta Shadows, " by Peter Wellington Clark. (New Orleans:
Graphic Art Studies, 1943; Pp. 200, price $1.)

3. "Brothers Under The Skin, " by Carey McWilliams. (Boston:
Little, Brown & Co., 1943; Pp. 325, price $3.)

4. "Jim Crow's Last Stand, " by Langston Hughes. (New York:
Negro Publication System of America, 1943; Pp. 30, price


Bibliography - 2

5. "Guide to Information about the Negro amd Negro-White
Adjustmont, " by Margaret Bicknell and Margaret C. McCulloch;
pp. 39.

6. "Race & Crime, " by W. A. Bongor. (New York: Columbia Univer­
sity Press, 1943.)

7. "Race, Science and Politics, " revised by Ruth Benedict.
(New York: The Viking Press, 1943.)

8. "The Pursuit of Freedom, " by Edgar Bernhard. (Chicago:
Civil Liberties Union, 1942.) An account of the struggle
for freedom in Illinois from the Ordinance of 1887 to the present.

9. "What Became of Race Prejudice, " by Frnnk O. Etheridge.
(New York: 280 East 155th Street.)

10. "Inside Black America, " by Roi Ottley. (New York: Houghton,
Mifflin Co.)

11. "The American Dilemma, " by Gunnur Myrda1. (New York: Harper
& Bros.)

12. "Sex and Race, " by J. A. Rogers. ($6.50) (Available at the
Crisis Book Shop, 69 - 5th Avenue, New York.)

13. "The Negro in our History, " by Carter G. Woodson. ($3)
(Available at the Crisis Book Shop, 69 - 5th Ave., New York.)

14. "Patterns of Negro Segregation, " by Charles S. Johnson. ($3.50)
(Available at the Crisis Book Shop, 69 - 5th Ave., New York.)

15. "Inter-Cultural Education in American Schools, " ($1) (Avail-
able at the Crisis Book Shop, 69 - 5th Ave., New York.)


1. "Chicago Bee" - 3655 South State Street, Chicago, Illinois.

2. "Chicngo Defender - 3435 Indiana. Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.

3. "Chicago Edition - Pittsburgh Courier" - 3456 S. State street,
Chicago, Illinois

4. Other community newspapers, published by Negroes.

Physical Description11 typed sheets, 8.5 x 11 in.
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