LOUISIANA COUNCIL ON HUMAN RELATIONS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

I. The Louisiana Council on Human Relations: A Chronicle of Activities

II. Local Councils

A. The Baton Rouge Council On Human Relations

B. The Lafayette Council On Human Relations

III. POSITION PAPERS

A. Affirmative Action: 3/16/91

B. The Death Penalty: 9/28/97

C. Dialogue on Race Relations: 7/19/97

D. Prison Reform: 9/20/97

E. Poverty: 9/20/97

F. Labor: 10/18/97

G. Police-Community Relations: 10/18/97

H. Women’s Rights: 10/18/97

I. Against Discrimination the Basis of Ethnic/National Origin: 10/18/97

J. Formation of Local Councils: 10/18/97

K. Education: 1/10/98

L.THE DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF FELONS 

 

I. THE LOUISIANA COUNCIL ON HUMAN RELATIONS: A CHRONICLE OF ACTIVITIES 

 

            Chronicle of the Louisiana Council on Human Relations 1964-1999

            Prepared by Paul Y. Burns February 25, 2000

1964    The Louisiana Council on Human Relations (LCHR) was organized as a nonprofit, nonsectarian, educational organization. The group was sponsored and assisted financially by the Southern Regional Council (SRC) in Atlanta, which helped organize several state human relations councils at this time. The original purpose of LCHR was to counter prejudice and discrimination against racial and religious groups and to promote better understanding among these groups. Several years later LCHR realized that its program aiming at prejudice and discrimination also included working to eliminate gender and class injustices. Members, officers, and board members were from the beginning and continuing until the present about 50 percent white and 50 percent black. In 1964 it was a little dangerous, because of strong segregationist sentiment among many whites, for blacks and whites to meet together openly in Louisiana. Among the organizers were Dr. Ralph M. Dreger, Mr. Wade Mackie, and Dean Martin L. Harvey. Funded in the early years by an annual grant from SRC supplemented with modest membership dues, LCHR=s budget for its first three years was about $18,500 per year. Officers 1964-65: Dr. James R. Oliver (Lafayette), President; Dr. Murray J. Martin (Lake Charles) and Mrs. Barbara Erickson (Shreveport), Vice-Presidents; Mrs. Leo Mervis (Helen) (New Orleans), Secretary; Dean Martin L. Harvey (Baton Rouge), Treasurer. The newsletter editor was Dr. Ralph M. Dreger (Baton Rouge).

1965    In February an LCHR Chapter was organized in Baton Rouge, the Baton Rouge Human Relations Council, which has continued to be active since that time. A student Chapter was organized at USL (University of Southwestern Louisiana). The New Orleans Community Relations Council, already in existence before 1964, became a Chapter of LCHR, but after 1971 it became dormant. It had a successful reunion meeting in 1985, but in spite of the efforts of LCHR and a few New Orleans residents, it failed to be revived. The Lafayette Council on Human Relations was organized as a Chapter about this time; it met regularly for many years, but in the past eight years has been dormant. Other Chapters were established in the sixties and seventies in Caddo-Bossier Parish (Shreveport), St. Mary=s Parish (Franklin), Vermilion Parish, New Iberia, Lake Charles-Deanery (this was treated by LCHR as a Chapter until 1973, when it became a formal affiliate), Lincoln Parish (Ruston), and Covington. A Board of Advisors was appointed, which included some prominent Louisiana citizens. Seeking to establish local Human Relations Councils, President Oliver sent letters to 25 mayors in the state (cities over 10,000) and to more than 150 pastors. Local councils were also established in Crowley and Abbeville in 1966, under the aegis of LCHR, but they did not formally become Chapters.

1966    The Board received a grant from SRC and hired a full-time Executive Director, Mrs. Patricia B. Miller; she also served as Newsletter Editor. LCHR=s office was established in the First Federal Bldg., 7986 Scenic Hwy., Baton Rouge. Officers in September: Dr. James R. Oliver Pres., Dr. Murray Martin and Mrs. Barbara Erickson Vice-Pres., Mrs. Leo Mervis Sec., Dean Martin L. Harvey Treas. In November SRC and LCHR sponsored a meeting in Alexandria on human rights. LCHR=s main projects in the early years were to counteract racial discrimination in education, employment, and housing.

1967    The first annual meeting of LCHR was held February 24 in Baton Rouge. It covered talks on race relations in the South, the future of school desegregation, racial equality and our democratic heritage, and the work of LCHR. The organization received an SRC grant of $14,000, and the Board discussed employing an office manager. The St. Mary Parish Human Relations Council and the Caddo-Bossier Parishes Human Relations Council became LCHR Chapters. The newsletter went to 1400 homes. SRC gave LCHR the annual Mitchell Award for the greatest percentage increase in membership among all the state councils on human relations in the Southeast. By-Laws were adopted, and on October 9 LCHR was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

1968    LCHR=s primary sources of revenue: $14,500/year grant from SRC and $4,500/year dues from Chapters and individuals. Dow Chemical Company gave a $300 grant, and there was a $10,000 one-time-only grant from the Field Foundation. Position papers were drawn up on Legal Aid for Minorities, Formation of Local Councils, Education, Poverty, Social Welfare, Stabilizing Communities to Prevent Blockbusting, and Grassroots Support of Human Relations Councils. On June 15 LCHR held an awards meeting in New Orleans; Mr. & Mrs. Bernard Broussard, St. Mary=s Council, received an award for outstanding work in human relations. LCHR again received the SRC Mitchell Award. Officers 1968-69: Dr. Oliver Pres.; Dr. Dreger, Mrs. Dorothy Wafer, and Mr. Jonas Mason Vice-Pres.; Mrs. O.S. Simpkins Sec., Dean Martin L. Harvey, Treas.

1969    On February 15 LCHR co-sponsored a Housing & Urban Renewal Conference in Baton Rouge. The annual meeting was held March 15 in Lafayette, where the Community Relations Council of Greater Covington became an LCHR Chapter. LCHR worked with 12 organizations in packaging housing complexes and in attempts to obtain housing for low-income people, especially in small communities. Officers1969-70: Dr. Oliver Pres., Dr. Paul Y. Burns 1st V.P., Dr. Malcolm Byrnes 2nd V.P., Dr. Ralph M. Dreger 3rd V.P., Mrs. Rose Mae Broussard Sec., Mr.Albert Malveaux Treas. Patricia Miller continued as Executive Director until Dec. 13, when the Board granted her request for a leave of absence to serve as a housing consultant. LCHR had a project director, Wayne A. Schopf, after Ludwig Freeman was discharged, who worked as a volunteer to eliminate job discrimination, especially in Baton Rouge=s petrochemical industry. LCHR began a long association with the Southern Mutual Help Association (SMHA), a grassroots program in the sugarcane-growing region of southern Louisiana to help poor people gain self-reliance; beginning in 1968 Sr. Anne Catherine Bizalion, SMHA=s Executive Director, served on LCHR=s Board of Directors until her death in 1997. LCHR received an E.E.O. C. grant for affirmative action programs.

1970    LCHR operated affirmative action programs all year. In February it sponsored a successful conference in Baton Rouge on equal employment opportunity. The annual meeting was held March 14 in Baton Rouge, with the theme of quality education in Louisiana; speakers were Emmitt J. Douglas and Edward J. Steimel. SRC ceased making grants to LCHR beginning in 1970. General program total expenditures this year were $12,758, and the E.E.O. Project grant money spent was $19,500.

1971    LCHR received a $6,000 grant from SRC to develop a minority group employment agency. Mrs. Ruby Hebert was employed part-time to develop this agency, assisted by Ken Baker, a VISTA volunteer. Mrs. Lee Ester Montgomery, VISTA worker, served as office manager. LCHR received a $43,000 grant from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare under the Emergency School Assistance Program to develop a school information service; the major thrusts were a monthly newsletter, AThe School Reporter,@ and a series of TV documentaries. Ken Baker was hired in September to direct the project, and he ran the office as Acting Executive Director of LCHR until September 1972. LCHR hired a full-time secretary, Mrs. Sharon Dutton.

1972    LCHR=s annual meeting was held May 13 in Baton Rouge. Gov. Edwin Edwards addressed the group. There were reports from state and local councils and workshops on employment, housing and community development, and education. Dr. Oliver continued as President of LCHR until June. Ken Baker was replaced as Acting Executive Director by Steven Montgomery, VISTA worker. LCHR entered a cooperative agreement with Community Advancement, Inc. and with the Baton Rouge VISTA project: full and part-time VISTA workers to staff LCHR in LCHR=s office on Scenic Hwy., Baton Rouge. LCHR intensified work on job placement for minorities. Officers 1972-73: Dr. Ralph Dreger Pres., Dr. Paul Y. Burns, Sr. Anne Catherine Bizalion, and Dr. Raymond Floyd Vice-Pres., Mr. Kenneth Malveaux Sec., Mrs. Patricia Miller Treas. In December LCHR co-sponsored a conference with the Louisiana Education Association on Problems of Black Educators.

1973    The annual meeting was held March 10 in Lafayette, featuring an address by Dr. Jesse Stone on AThe Purpose of a Constitution.@ On June 2 the LCHR Board of Directors held a retreat in Abbeville to consider future directions of the Council, concluding that there was a vital need for the Council to act as a voluntary watchdog and advocate in respect to the basic human rights of people as they pertain to race, ethnic origin, sex, etc. A representative of LCHR testified in November on the right to a decent environment before a committee of the Louisiana Constitutional Convention. In November the Board adopted a budget showing projected expenses through 1974 of $1,200; Rosemary Crumley (mother of Fr. Wm. Crumley) was volunteer Executive Director, living in Lafayette. Ouachita Parish and Lake Charles Human Relations Councils were formally affiliated with LCHR. Officers 1973-74: Dr. Ralph M. Dreger Pres., Dr. Patricia Rickels 1st V.P., Mr. Ted Hayes 2nd V.P., Sr. Anne Catherine Bizalion 3rd V.P., Rev. Wm. Crumley Sec., and Mr. A.R. Williams Treas.

1974    The annual meeting was held May 18 in Baton Rouge with the theme New Directions in Human Relations. The keynote address was given by Pat Watters of SRC. Representatives from local councils made reports, and there were spokespersons from other related groups such as the ACLU, the Welfare Rights Organization, the YWCA, the League of Women Voters, and the National Conference of Christians and Jews. The Rev. Albert J. McKnight delivered the closing address on the topic of liberation. Officers 1974-75: Dr. Ralph M. Dreger Pres., Dr. Patricia Rickels 1st V.P., Mr. Ted Hayes 2nd V.P., Sr. Anne Catherine 3rd V.P., Rev. Wm. Crumley Sec., and Mr. A.R. Williams Treas. Dr. Patricia Rickels was Newsletter Editor. Mrs. Crumley continued as Executive Director.

1975    Mrs. Rosemary Crumley resigned as volunteer Executive Director in March. The Board of Directors decided to institute an annual award for achievement in field of human relations. Dr. Patricia Rickels served as Newsletter Editor. The annual meeting was held June 7 at the Marriott Hotel in New Orleans, the major address being given by H.R. Crawford, Assistant Secretary, Department of Housing & Urban Development. LCHR adopted resolutions endorsing ERA and asking the La. Legislature to ratify this document. It petitioned the U.S. Senate to extend the Voting Rights Act. LCHR continued to cooperate with the Southern Mutual Help Association (SMHA) on the plight of sugarcane workers in southern Louisiana. Also, LCHR belonged to the Coalition for Human Dignity and E.R.A. United of Louisiana. Officers 1975-76: Dr. Ralph M. Dreger Pres., Dr. Patricia Rickels 1st V.P., Mr. Ted Hayes 2nd V.P., Mrs. Annie A. Smart 3rd V.P., Rev. Wm. Crumley Sec., and Mr. A.R. Williams Treas. Dr. Patricia K. Rickels was Newsletter Editor.

1976    LCHR helped sugarcane workers. It had a representative at the installation of the President of Dillard University. LCHR began a watchdog role in revenue sharing. It sent $25 to support the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. The annual meeting was held May 29 in Lafayette. The theme was Louisiana Human Relations: Past, Present, Future. Speakers were Patricia B. Miller, Annie A. Smart, and Rev. Vincent O=Connell, S.M. Officers 1976-77: Same as 1975-76. Dr. Dreger was Newsletter Editor.

1977    The annual meeting was held April 30 at the Dominican Convent, Abbeville. A symposium was held on The History of Human Relations in Louisiana. Speakers were Ted Hayes, Doris White, and Jessie Taylor. There was a panel discussion on Ethnic Studies and the Louisiana Schools; speakers were James Dormon, Patricia Rickels, Essie Washington, Phyllis Simoneaux, and Carl Brasseaux. LCHR helped SMHA get a $347,389 grant from the Federal government for economic assistance. Officers 1977-78: Dr. Ralph M. Dreger Pres., Dr. Patricia Rickels 1st V.P., Mr. Ted Hayes 2nd V.P., Mrs. Annie Smart 3rd V.P., Fr. Wm. Crumley Sec., Mr. A.R. Williams Treas. Dr. Dreger was Newsletter Editor. For the first time in its history, LCHR elected a Native American, Ernest Sickey, Coushatta Tribe Chief, to its Board of Directors. Two of the four Newsletter issues were joint with the Baton Rouge Council on Human Relations. Board member Paul Y. Burns organized the LCHR archives into 73 folders totaling about two linear feet of files and prepared a one-page index to the archives. In December the Board adopted a Position Paper on Unions.

1978    The annual meeting was held April 29 at the Coushatta Tribe=s Community Center, Elton; the meeting theme was human relations among Indians and between Indians and non-Indians. LCHR cooperated with the Louisiana Equal Opportunity Association. LCHR received a grant in November from the Louisiana Committee for the Humanities for an oral history of human rights in Louisiana 1920s to 1970s. Dreger was Newsletter Editor until June 3. Officers 1978-79: Dr. Dreger Pres., Fr. Wm. Crumley Sec., Atty. Johnnie A. Jones 1st V.P., Dr. Patricia Rickels 2nd V.P., Mr. Ted Hayes 3rd V.P., Dr. Comradge Henton Treas., Paul Y. Burns Newsletter Editor. All three1978 Newsletters were joint with the B.R. Council on Human Relations.

1979    An unusually large number, 70, attended the annual meeting May 12 in Lafayette. Theme: The 20th Century Struggle for Human Rights in Louisiana, highlighted by the presentation of No Gains Without Pains, the slide-tape show resulting from LCHR=s oral history grant. Officers 1979-80: Dr. Dreger Pres., Atty. Johnnie A. Jones, Dr. Patricia Rickels, Mr. Ted Hayes Vice-Presidents, Dr. Oliver Sec., Dr. Henton Treas. Dr. Burns was Newsletter Editor. The Board adopted a Position Paper on Higher Education.

1980    The annual meeting May 17 in Baton Rouge=s Centroplex was well attended, and there were a number of co-sponsor organizations. The theme was Sex, Race, and Economics. Featured speakers were Gloria Steinem and the Honorable A.L. ATony@ Harrison. Officers 1980-81: Rev. Mr. Luther Minor Pres., other officers the same as 1979-80. The Board commended the Southern University Board of Supervisors for refusing to ban Iranian students.

1981    The annual meeting was held May 16 at Trinity C.M.E. Church in Lafayette. Theme: Strategy for the Eighties: Coalitions for Local Change. Dr. Ralph M. Dreger spoke on the history of LCHR. President Minor spoke on the meeting theme. Other speakers were Charles Dennis, Mae C. Winbush, Sarah C. Brabant, John Q. Hyde, Marion O. White, and Paul Harvey Colomb. In September the Board adopted a statement to the press commending the press for not using racial identification in stories on alleged criminal activities. Officers 1981-82: Ted Hayes Pres., Sarah Brabant 1st V.P., Annie Smart 2nd V.P., Doris White 3rd V.P., James R. Oliver, Sec., Comradge Henton Treas., Paul Y. Burns Newsletter Ed.

1982    In March the Board supported extension of the1965 Voting Rights Act without amendment, asked Gov. Treen to support SMHA=s Teche Health Service Clinic in Franklinton, accepted an invitation to join SRC=s new Southern Roundtable, and made LCHR=s position on busing known to the Louisiana Congressional delegation. The annual meeting was held May 22 at Parks Elementary School, Natchitoches. The theme was the same as in 1981. Speakers were Ralph M. Dreger, David B. Botchin, Anthony Navarre, Camellia Joseph, Joseph LaBrum. LCHR=s racially integrated group lunching at a downtown café received good service but seemingly hostile looks from the other customers, all of whom were white. All members of the Magnolia Peace Officers Assn. of Natchitoches Parish (black officers) were invited to this meeting but none cameBthey got a letter from the white Sheriff or D.A. telling them not to go. Officers 1981-82: Same as 1980-81. In September the Board sent a letter to the Southern University Chancellor opposing alleged discrimination against women who desire to be members of the S.U. marching band. Attempts to revive the Community Relations Council in New Orleans failed.

1983    The annual meeting was held May 21 at the SMHA Farm Workers= Center, Olivier. Theme: Hard Times and Human Relations. Keynote speaker: Dr. Amos E. Simpson, USL History Professor. LCHR recommended support for La. Fund Act 300 dealing with state grants to local communities to operate juvenile-justice programs. It adopted a Position Paper on Women=s Rights. The LCHR Committee on Discrimination in State Employment, chaired by Dr. Ralph M. Dreger presented its initial report at a news conference in Baton Rouge August 22. The committee concluded that minorities and women had nowhere nearly achieved their proper representation in the higher categories of positions in state employment, and that EEO offices should be strengthened.

1984    The annual meeting was held April 28 in Baton Rouge; the theme was Put Your Votes Where Your Rights Are. Representatives of several organizations having aims similar to LCHR=s (the NAACP, YWCA, Survival Coalition, AAUW, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Common Cause, AFL-CIO, NOW, SMHA, Women=s Lobby Network, Coalition of Conscience, Center for Disarmament Education, Baton Rouge Freeze Campaign, Bread for the World) made presentations on their work. Officers 1984-85: Rev. Ted Hayes Pres., Dr. P.Y. Burns 1st V.P., Mrs. Annie A. Smart 2nd V.P., Mr. Joe Dennis 3rd V.P., Dr. Comradge Henton Treas., Dr. Patricia Rickels Sec. The Board adopted a resolution asking the Louisiana Legislature not to increase the sales tax on food and medicine. The slide-tape show, No Gains Without Pains (tape-recorded interviews and color slides, oral history of civil rights in La)., plus all the taped interviews and photos collected during the project, were presented July 25 to the Center for Louisiana Studies, USL. The collection was named in honor of Mr. J. Carlton James. No Gains Without Pains was presented publicly around the state after completion about five years earlierBpartially funded and morally supported by LCHR.

1985    The annual meeting was held May 18 in Lafayette, theme Religion and Human Relations. Officers 1985-86: Doris White Pres., Ted Hayes 1st V.P., Annie A. Smart 2nd V.P., Ralph M. Dreger 3rd V.P., Comradge Henton Treas., Patricia Rickels Sec. Paul Y. Burns was Newsl. Ed. Another attempt to revive the CRC of New Orleans failed. The Board agreed to store LCHR=s archives in Doucet Hall, Rm. 205, at USL, the University Honors Program Office (Board Secretary Dr. Patricia Rickels= office).

1986    The annual meeting was held July 12 in Lafayette, theme Minorities and the Arts in Louisiana. Officers 1986-87:same as 1985-86, except that Willis V. Reed replaced Smart as 2nd V.P. LCHR=s Innovative Education Committee worked hard, led by Sr. Mary Grace Stelly, concentrating on setting up a Family Development Center in New Orleans, an holistic approach to education of low-income families starting when the mother is carrying a child. After a number of years of trying to get financing and a good location, the Family Development Center project was abandoned. LCHR joined Citizen Review, a new nonprofit coalition in Baton Rouge.

1987    The annual meeting was held June 27 in St. Luke=s Episcopal Chapel, Grambling University. The theme was Coping with a Resurgence of Racism. The St. Mary Parish (Franklin) Human Relations Council voted to become a Chapter of LCHR, but decided to disband in 1989. A Position Paper was adopted, endorsing the United Farm Workers boycott of table grapes. A video tape on Nicaragua was made available to members. During the fiscal year 1987-88 LCHR monitored St. Landry Parish school desegregation lawsuits, the Consent Decree for higher education in Louisiana, capital punishment in Louisiana, redistricting of the Gonzales City Council to obtain black representation, CIA recruitment of incoming college freshmen, the Civil Rights Restoration Act, the use of dangerous chemicals in agriculture, the nomination of Robert Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the oppression of Jews in the USSR. Officers 1987-88: Paul Y. Burns Pres., Joseph Dennis 1st V.P., Ted Hayes 2nd V.P., Annie Smart 3rd V.P., Patricia Rickels Sec., Comradge Henton Treas. Ralph Dreger was Newsl. Ed.

1988    The annual meeting was held May 7 in Baton Rouge, theme Implications of a Resurgence of Racism. Speakers covered religion, education, and the Jesse Jackson campaign. Speakers were Imam Abdulhakeem Y. Salaam, Rev. Al Brown, Dr. Gary Clark. Officers 1988-89: same as 1987-88. Dr. Dreger continued as Newsletter Editor.

1989    The By-Laws were amended. The Board sent a letter to Southern University President Dolores Spikes, commending her decision to have women in the marching band. Officers 1989-90: Joseph Dennis Pres., Ted Hayes 1st V.P., Olga Hayward 2nd V.P., Annie Smart 3rd V.P., Patricia Rickels Sec., Ida Hollinger Treas. A new Newsletter Editor was appointed: Bernard Broussard. The Board wrote the Governor expressing its concern about big businesses being attracted to Louisiana, with hazards to the environment. The annual meeting was held May 27; theme Escape from Poverty; keynote address by Louisiana=s Labor Secretary Phyllis Mouton. In December the Board adopted a Position Paper on the death penalty, and Miss Mercedese Broussard was appointed Newsletter Editor to replace Bernard Broussard.

1990    The annual meeting was held May 19 in Baton Rouge; the program dealt with the drug problem. Speakers were Beverly Trahan, Laurabeth Hicks, James L. Stovall, Joseph Dennis, and Ralph M. Dreger. LCHR joined the Coalition Against Racism & Nazis and endorsed the proposal of Louisiana Public Broadcasting to make a documentary on the life and writings of Ernest J. Gaines. Officers 1990-91: Joseph Dennis Pres., Ted Hayes V.P., Patricia Rickels Corresponding Sec., Ralph Dreger Membership Sec. Mercedese Broussard continued as Newsletter Editor. The Board sent letters to the Louisiana Congressional Delegation supporting the Civil Rights Act of 1990 and to all members of the Louisiana Legislature opposing the weakening of affirmative action programs. In December the Board decided to try to organize a Chapter in Shreveport.

1991    A Board meeting was held February 2 in Shreveport--small attendance but good interest; however, this effort at organizing a Shreveport Chaper failed. In March the Board adopted a position paper on Affirmative Action. The Board adopted a resolution on recent harassment of Arab-Americans. The annual meeting was held May 25 in Lafayette with a program on the Bill of Rights. Speakers were Ronald Labbe, Daniel Patterson, Je=Nelle Chagois, Ralph M. Dreger, Anthony Navarre, Jeremy Millett, Connie Sadler, and Denise Le Boeuf. Officers 1991-92: same as 1990-91. The Board met September 28 in Shreveport; a position paper on discrimination on the basis of national/ethnic origin was adopted. In December the Board adopted a motion to write to Gov. Roemer asking him to follow the recommendation of the Pardon Board for clemency for Gary Tyler.

1992    On January 26, a cooperative program to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights was held at Southern University. The proceedings were edited by Dr. Ralph M. Dreger and 550 copies were published by LCHR, with ISBN number. The annual meeting was held July 11 at Southern University, Baton Rouge; topic police-community relations. Speakers were Raymond Jetson, Michael R. Morris, Sr., Anthony Navarre, and Annie A. Smart. The Board instructed its Secretary to write Gov. Edwards and offer our members for service on the newly established Human Relations Commission. Officers 1992-93: same as 1990-91 and 1991-92.

1993    The annual meeting was held June 26 in New Orleans. Theme: Police-Community Relations. The featured speaker was Atty. William P. Quigley. Officers 1993-94: Dennis, Hayes, Rickels, and Hollinger were re-elected. Paul Y. Burns was elected Membership Secretary. Mercedese Broussard continued as Newsletter Editor. .

1994    The annual meeting was held June 25 in Lafayette. Theme: Violence: What Works to Prevent It. Panelists were Francis Green, Albert J. Richardson, Jr., Arthur Sampson, and Julie Nelson. LCHR=s bank balances were: checking $1,319, C.D. $1,529. Officers 1994-95: same as 1993-94.

1995    In January the Board wrote a letter to the Governor about our concern with the lack of black officers and their slow promotion in the State Police. The Board also wrote to the U.S. Justice Department about discrimination in the FBI, the Louisiana Congressional Delegation supporting national health insurance at least for children, and Louisiana newspapers opposing violence at abortion clinics. In April the Board sent major newspapers in Louisiana a statement that any registered voter who meets the qualifications has the right to run for office in the area where he/she lives, whether a member of the majority race or not. The annual meeting was held June 10 in Baton Rouge. Theme: Affirmative Action. Panelists were Atty. Russell L. Jones, Ms. Maxine Crump, and Dr. Kathleen Sparrow. Officers 1995-96: Same as 1993-94; Mercedese Broussard continued as Newsletter Editor.

1996    In January Paul Burns turned over some old LCHR records to Pat Rickels for the archives. The annual meeting was held May 18 in New Orleans in conjunction with a conference being held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Plessy v. Ferguson U.S. Supreme Court decision. The LCHR Board agreed to donate the LCHR archives (all papers at least five years old, except for copies of essential items) to the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans. Officers 1996-97: same as 1993-94 except that Mercedese Broussard replaced Hollinger as Treasurer. A Position Paper on Affirmative Action was sent to Gov. Foster. A statement that the recent burnings of black churches were a symptom of the resurgence of hidden racism was sent to the Governor and to church leaders. The Board wrote a letter of complaint to the Sheriff of St. Landry Parish about a program of this parish jail to allow only male inmates to study for the GED test.

1997    The annual meeting was held June 28 in Lafayette; theme was community service. Speakers were Una Hargrave, Erin Butler, Kristy Holloway, and Jann Briesacher. A motion was adopted to set up an Internet Web Page for LCHR. In July the Board sent LCHR=s paper, ADialogue on Race Relations in America,@ to President Clinton=s Initiative on Race. All officers were re-elected. The Board wrote Gov. Foster supporting the involvement of the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic in its efforts to help low-income residents of a community stop a large corporation from building a chemical plant with possible toxic emissions. In October the Board adopted a Position Paper on Women=s Rights.

1998    In January the Board adopted a Position Paper on Education. Paul Burns resigned as Membership Secretary and was replaced by Shirley and Leslie Burris. LCHR joined Southern Catalyst Network, an anti-prejudice coalition project of the Southern Institute for Education and Research, at Tulane University. In March the Board completed its review of all its old Position Papers, ending up with 11 Position Papers. The annual meeting was held June 13, a joint program meeting with Baton Rouge Council on Human Relations; the theme was racism. The speaker was Roberta Madden. Officers 1998-99: Joseph Dennis Pres., Ted Hayes V.P., Patricia Rickels Corresponding Sec., Leslie and Shirley Burris Membership Sec., Jann Briesacher Treas. In June Briesacher agreed to be Newsletter Editor, replacing Mercedese Broussard; however, Briesacher resigned as Newsletter Editor in October and was replaced temporarily by Paul Y. Burns.

1999    In January Doris White was appointed Newsletter Editor; however, she resigned in July and was replaced temporarily by Burns. LCHR=s Website (http://www.lachr.com/) was set up by Dr. James E. Cross, containing LCHR=s 14 Position Papers and a history of the Baton Rouge Council. The annual meeting was held June 26 in Lafayette; the theme was juvenile justice. Speakers were Judge Kathleen Richey, Attys. Gabriella Celeste, Derwyn Bunton, and John V. White, and Mr. Peter Bonhomme. Officers 1999-2000: Joseph Dennis (Lafayette) Pres., Thelma Deamer (Baton Rouge) V.P., Patricia Rickels (Lafayette) Corresponding Sec., Leslie and Shirley Burris (Baton Rouge) Membership Secretaries, Eva Baham (Slidell) Treas. Burns agreed to edit the August joint LCHR-BRCHR newsletter. In October the Board discussed a new book on racism distributed by the ACLU Anti-Racism Project, Boston, MA, and Joseph McCarty was appointed newsletter editor. In 1999 the quarterly newsletter was mailed to nearly 360 addresses. The Board of Directors, consisting of 21 members elected for three-year terms by the membership, continued to meet quarterly in the home of one of the Board members. Officers continued to be elected for one-year terms, with the possibility of being re-elected. There were no paid staff members. LCHR=s mailing address was that of one of the secretary of the Council.

  

II. LOCAL COUNCILS

 

A. HISTORY OF THE BATON ROUGE COUNCIL ON HUMAN RELATIONS

Prepared by Paul Y. Burns, March 27, 1998

 

Foreword

I joined the Council when it was two months old and has been a member ever since, serving on the board ofdirectors for 31 years, as board chairman, and asboard secretary. I have custody of the Council's archives. In this history I have concentrated on the activities andaccomplishments of the Council, rather than onthe personswho were involved. I plan at a later date to add the names of leaders who were involved in variousprojects of theorganization.

The Baton Rouge Council on Human Relations was formed in February 1965 as a non-profit civic organization. Its purpose was primarily to promote racial desegregation and better race relations; however, it also hoped to counteract prejudice and discrimination based on religious, nationality, or ethnic group membership. The Baton Rouge Council is one of the chapters of the Louisiana Council on Human Relations, formed in 1964.

The Council was unique among racially desegregated organizations in that it was integrated at the very start. The initiators of the Council were John G. Lewis, a black man, and Ralph M. Dreger, who was white. The officers and the membership during the first year were approximately half black and half white. Thus this group has avoided theproblem of a racial history, common to many integrated organizations these days, of having a racially discriminatory past. The 50-50 racial composition of the membership as well as of the board of directors has continued over the years.

There has never been a paid staff member of the Baton Rouge Council; the dues have remained low, currently $10 per year for individuals and $15 for families. In addition, low-income persons pay only $1. Also, the Council has never had an office, and it has used the homes of board members for its board meetings. For an official address, it has used the home address and phone of the secretary of the board, currently 1776 75th Ave., Baton Rouge, LA 70807, 225-357-3681. Membership in the past 30 years has remained fairly steady at about 150 members.

The Council has led in the elimination of racism by use of several methods, all of which are non-violent and non-confrontational: (1) public education, (2) meetings involving persons of different races, and (3) communication with individuals or organizations asking them to desist from racial discrimination. Although in its early years the Council's activities were strongly opposed by local racists, fortunately none of the members to my knowledge were harassed in connection with attending a Council meeting, and anonymous "hate" phone calls were few.

Public education has been done by the Council's newsletter, which in the early years was published six to ten times per year and currently comes out quarterly. Distributed not only to the members but also to politicians and the news media, the newsletter often contains editorial comments designed to solve racial problems. Also the Council's public meetings and the newspaper and TV publicity about them educate the public.

The Council's board of directors meets monthly. In these meetings blacks and whites sit down with each other in the home of one of the board members and openly discuss community racial problems. The Council held public meetings on racial problems nearly monthly in the early days, and now holds them about three times per year. These face-to-face meetings have been extremely helpful to the members in educating each other about racial relations from the perspective of a person of a different race.

The Council's annual Humanitarian Awards, conferred at public meetings, and with suitable local publicity, have helped to inspire people to devote efforts toward the establishment of justice, peace, and freedom.

 

For ease in understanding the Council's work over the 33 years of existence, its programs are here divided into the following areas: Education, Religion, Community Facilities, Employment, Housing, Legal Facilities, City-Parish Boards and Agencies, Welfare and Poverty, Environmental Justice, Women's Concerns, Race Relations History, and Miscellaneous.

Education

 

Over the past 33 years the Council has strongly supported the public school system. When the Council was founded the schools in Baton Rouge were segregated. The Council from its beginning supported racial integration and a unitary school system, cooperating with other groups such as the NAACP in this endeavor. In its early years, the Council called for integration of Boys State and Girls State, a program for white high school students, with Pelican and Bayou States for black students. In the 1960s the Council assisted students requesting transfer to desegregated schools and operated a tutoring program, cooperating with Head Start. It met with the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board several times, asking for desegregation. It monitored School Board meetings, protesting racially discriminatory actions of the School Superintendent, school principals, and the School Board. It cooperated with the LEA on its program to save the jobs of black teachers. In 1969 it sent a policy statement on black history to the School Board, recommending that the curriculum recognize the significant contributions of black people to the culture of the U.S. and the world and that multiethnic textbooks be used. The Council opposed President Nixon's statement on busing and Governor McKeithen's prediction of racial violence connected with school integration. It publicly supported single-member districting for the School Board, demonstrating its commitment to empowerment of blacks in Baton Rouge, a minority that did not have its fair share of power. It supported a bill in the La. Legislature on school expulsion safeguards and it held a Parent Power Lab to educate parents on school matters. The Council called for integration of the La. School for the Blind and the La. School for the Deaf.

The Council "adopted" Istrouma Sr. High School in September 1985, and over the past 13 years, it provided helpers for classroom teachers, practical counseling for students in the "Time-out" Room, academic and humanitarian awards to students, travel money for students to meetings, newspaper and magazine subscriptions for the library, and money for several worthwhile projects.

 

The Council protested racial discrimination in expulsions and suspensions in public schools. In 1983, 1991, and 1992 it held public conferences on desegregation in the schools of East Baton Rouge Parish and widely distributed proceedings of one of these meetings. After the School Board became integrated, two of our long-time members, Eva Legard and Press Robinson, served as presidents of the board, earlier, one of our white members, Eileen Armstrong, served in this position. In 1989 the Council held a meeting in which Dr. Bernard Weiss, Superintendent of Schools, outlined the new School Redesign Plan. In 1994 the Council sponsored a public forum for candidates for the School Board; candidates addressed questions related to achieving a unitary school system, expulsions/suspensions of students, and multicultural education. That year the Council participated in Project Harmony, which seeks to promote tolerance, and in Going the Second Mile, a community-wide movement seeking better race relations. The Council also urged use in local high schools of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance materials. It contacted the School Board in support of the efforts of its Multicultural Education Committee.

 

A conference for schoolteachers on the Algebra Project was co-sponsored by the Council in 1995. This national project aims to improve overall school performance of at-risk children and has been successful in other states. When the Council's board learned that Arlington Preparatory Academy had no library, the Council held a book collection for it; more than 2000 books, 4 tapes, 1 globe, and 1 tape recorder were collected and donated to the school. The Council complained in 1996 to the LSU Board of Supervisors about misuse of scholarship funds intended for minorities.

 

In 1997 the Council held a public meeting on education for the twenty-first century, from the perspective of a parent, a teacher, a student, and a school board member. In early 1998 it held a public forum on diversity in America. In 1996 and 1997, the Council co-sponsored a birthday party/program for children, honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. which was a successful educational effort in the area of race relations.

Religion

The Council worshipped during the 1960s with a Jewish Synagogue for its Hanukkah Service, which brought black and white Christians together with Jews for an ecumenical experience which was both educational and inspirational. The Council sponsored several ecumenical Thanksgiving services in various churches, both black and white. A church visitation project was held in 1969, in which two- or three-person teams of mixed religious preferences visited a Sunday worship service. In this process, the Council discovered that two white Christian churches turned away black worshippers along with their white companions. Subsequently, after several years, these churches adopted a policy of no racial discrimination.

 

In the 1980s, assisted by one of the board members who was a Muslim, the Council held meetings to promote better understanding among Muslims and Christians. Another public meeting featured talks on religious tolerance and women in the ministry. The Council held an ecumenical service in 1989, led by its Religion Committee, using a theme of "Transmitting values--a family responsibility." A year later the Council sponsored an ecumenical memorial service for Fr. Elmer S. Powell, S.V.D., who was a member of the Council and a strong proponent of ecumenism.

 

Community Facilities

Restaurants: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed about six months before the Council was formed. During the summer of 1965 the Council decided to see whether the restaurants of Baton Rouge were complying with the no racial discrimination called for by the Act. Several integrated teams of 2 or 3 persons each went for lunch to different restaurants. One restaurant, Jack Sabin's, would not allow the team to come in. However, a year later, after being sued by another organization, the restaurant caved in and seated an integrated team.

 

Public Parks: When the Council was formed BREC was (and still is) the public parks and recreation agency of the parish. BREC then had an all-white board, a white superintendent, and every committee member was white. The Council called on BREC to add black members to these committees and the Council to appoint black members to BREC's board. Also, two Council members made a personal survey, using notes and photos, of BREC's park facilities, disclosing that facilities in the "white" areas of the parish were superior to those in the "black" areas. The results of the survey were made known to BREC's leadership, and a slide-talk show was presented to several civic groups. In the 1990s board members protested against the impact of BREC's fee increases on senior citizens.

Doctors' Offices: In the 1960s the Council made a survey of segregation in these offices. It was common for white doctors to have signs on waiting rooms to indicate race (normally, the smaller of the two waiting rooms was for "colored"). Other white doctors directed black patients to a separate unmarked waiting room, usually shabbier than the room for whites. The Council wrote to the E.B.R. Parish Medical Society and to the doctors who were practicing racial segregation, asking them to desist. Also the letter asked doctors and nurses to use courtesy titles in addressing black patients (it was common for white doctors and nurses to address black patients by their first names, such as Mary, and to address white patients by a courtesy title, such as Mrs. Green).

 

Good Fellows-Good Samaritans: This program was, and is, a project to provide Christmas presents to low-income children of Baton Rouge, financed by tax-deductible donations from the general public. When the Council was formed Good Fellows was run by whites for white children; Good Samaritans was run by blacks for black children--two separate groups. A Council member wrote to the IRS asking if true charity had to be color-blind. In other words, would donations to Good Fellows really be tax-deductible? A carbon of the letter went to the lady who ran Good Fellows. The two programs promptly united into one, which does not discriminate on the basis of race.

 

United Givers: A committee from the Council visited the United Givers (now United Way) office in the 1960s and recommended that none of the United Givers agencies be funded unless they did not discriminate on the basis of race. As a result, United Givers adopted a policy in 1968 that organizations seeking to be funded by United Givers must not racially discriminate.

 

La. Highway Department Building: Not long after the Council was formed a two-person team went to the Highway Department Building and found that the restrooms were segregated by race. The Council protested to the Governor of the State and well as to the head of the Highway Department.

 

City Bus System: A special committee of the Council beginning in 1989 spent several years investigating CTC, the local bus system, with the purpose of aiding bus riders, which are nearly all low-income residents with very little political influence. The committee made a number of' suggestions for improving the system and called for more financial support from the state and local governments. It also protested discrimination against blacks in CTC's maintenance department and sexual harassment of female drivers by male drivers.

 

Miscellaneous Agencies and Organizations: In its early years the Council wrote to several organizations asking the organization to desegregate, including Boy Scouts, Jr. Achievement, LSU Law Enforcement Institute, Jr. Deputies, Newcomers Breakfast, Fire Department, hospitals, Chamber of Commerce, and Little League.

Employment

 

Over the years the Council has investigated several employee grievances. It has trained potential employees in how to take tests. It investigated possible racial discrimination in La. Civil Service, the City-Parish summer employment program and Baton Rouge businesses as to fair employment practices. In the late 1960s it discovered that La. Civil Service racially discriminated in providing lists of persons for jobs at Southern University and LSU--only blacks were on the S.U. list, and only whites were on the LSU list. The Council protested to the La. Civil Service director. Some years later, the Council supported the City-Parish Affirmative Action Program.

Housing

 

The Council supported a Fair Housing bill in the Legislature and an Open Housing Ordnance of the City-Parish government. It adopted and distributed a position paper on open housing. After holding a Council-sponsored tour of public housing in Baton Rouge, it complained to the Housing Authority about racial discrimination and poor maintenance. In February 1969 the Council served as host chapter to a housing conference, authorizing the Housing Committee to spend $50 to publicize housing information to the black community.

 

Legal Facilities

 

The Council helped the ACLU distribute a booklet, "Know Your Rights." In the 1960s it tried to get patrol cars of the Baton Rouge police desegregated. It supported a bill in the La. Legislature to suspend the death penalty. It supported desegregation of St. Gabriel Women's Prison. After investigating police harassment of blacks in 1969, it ran a newspaper ad on white racism in the Baton Rouge, Police Department, asked for federal marshals to protect blacks, and called for a reasonable firearm policy for police officers. It investigated the availability of reading material in the parish jail.

 

The Council was successful in getting the local Jury Commission to be integrated. It called for more blacks in the Police Department and on juries. It objected to racial discrimination in parish jails, and it opposed the nomination of a white racist to the U.S. Supreme Court. It asked for a thorough investigation of a Black Muslim-Police confrontation in Baton Rouge during the 1970s and of the case of a black man killed in Baton Rouge by the FBI. The Council worked to help L.T.I., a juvenile prison facility, and visited Angola State Prison. It protested the closing of police substations in two predominately black residential areas. It succeeded in getting a representative on the board of directors of Capital Area Legal Services Corporation, which was helping low-income persons with civil legal problems. In 1993 the Council sent a representative to a Town Meeting on crime and violence sponsored by Rep. Cleo Fields.

In recent years the Council has held public discussions about police-community relations and has supported community policing.

 

City-Parish Boards and Agencies

Early in the life of the Council, a study was made of proper representation on these boards of directors, and it was found that blacks and women were under-represented. The Council attempted to rectify this situation, and succeeded in getting more blacks appointed. However, in spite of its recent efforts, which have been in cooperation with the local League of Women Voters, not enough women are serving on these boards.

 

Welfare and Poverty

The Council's Chairman wrote to the Governor in 1969, expressing concern that new taxes not unduly burden low-income people. The board of directors worked with the Welfare Rights Organization to improve the lives of low-income persons, writing to our state legislators that there should be no cut in ADC payments. The Council obtained data on the state's welfare program; it protested racial imbalance in employment of professionals in the Department of Public Welfare. The Council supported financing of St. Paul's Community Center in Eden Park, a Catholic project that assists low-income persons regardless of religious affiliation.

In an innovative effort to encourage welfare workers to treat clients with courtesy and respect, in 1979 the Council set up an award of money and a certificate of appreciation for the winner of a local contest. The nominations were made by the clients. And the award was made at a public meeting.

 

Environmental Justice

In the late 1980s and early 1990s the Council has been concerned about the practice of locating hazardous waste disposal plants in black and low-income areas. In 1992 the Council gave $300 in partial support of several students and a staff member from the Southern University Center for Energy and Environmental Studies who attended the Southern Community/Labor Conference of the Southern Organizing Committee for Economic and Social Justice. A report of the well-attended conference was published in the Council's newsletter. The Council affirmed its support of environmental justice in 1997 by making a Humanitarian Award to Dr. Florence Robinson, a well-known spokesperson for environmental justice, and having the L.E.A.N. director as a speaker.

 

Women's Concerns

 

In 1994 the Council sent a representative to participate in meetings of People Against Violence, a new organization dedicated to reducing domestic violence. This organization later merged with the Women's Council of Greater Baton Rouge, and the Human Relations Council has been sending a representative to this organization. The Women's Council had a conference in November 1994; the Human Relations Council supported the conference financially and with volunteers for conference activities.

Race Relations History

The local YWCA sponsored an oral history project called "Remembering the Struggle" in 1983. Twenty-six Baton Rouge women active in the human rights struggle 1957-1982 were interviewed. Fourteen (54%) of these women were members of the Baton Rouge Council on Human Relations, and long-time member of the Council Roberta Madden was project director. A year later the Council turned over its audiotapes on the oral history of race relations in Baton Rouge, based on interviews with two of the Council's members, to the T. Harry Williams Oral History library at Louisiana State University. The next year the Council, with the Education Committee of Going the Second Mile, cosponsored production of videotape on the history of racism in Baton Rouge; several Council members were interviewed for this tape.

 

Miscellaneous

In early 1992, the Council co-sponsored a Convocation on the Status of the Bill of Rights After 200 Years. Proceedings were published and sent to Congressional representatives and to a number of libraries. In recent years the Council co-sponsored Town Meetings on race relations as well as brown-bag luncheon meetings on racism as a part of the YWCA's Week without Violence. The Council contacted the Governor in 1995 asking that he veto a bill permitting the carrying of concealed weapons should it be approved by the legislature, and in 1996 the Council opposed the expansion of concealed weapons in Louisiana. In 1998 the Council joined the new anti-prejudice coalition formed by the Southern Institute for Education and Research, Tulane University; this coalition has a web site on the Internet, providing an additional opportunity for publicity for the Council's projects.

Appendix

 

The following persons, listed in chronological order, have served as board chairman or chair (in later years called president,): Bruce Evans, Ralph M. Dreger, Paul Y. Burns, Ralph M. Dreger, Rogers J. Newman, John S. Earle, Dupuy H. Anderson, Melba Simmons, Rogers J. Newman, Hoyt J. Cragg, Ravmond B. Floyd, James E. Cross, Willis V. Reed, A.R. Williams, Mercedese Broussard, Erelene L. Bradford, Virtle T. Jones, Dorothy W. Newman.

 

Humanitarian Awards (in recent years called the Powell-Reznikoff Humanitarian Awards) have been presented to the following, in chronological order, beginning in 1978, the first year of the awards: Dr. Dupuy H. Anderson, Dr. Ralph M. Dreger, Mr. J.D. De Blieux, Mrs. Annie A. Smart, Mrs. Hester Sobel, Mr. A.R. Williams, Mr.. Hoyt J. Cragg, Mrs. Annie B. Knox, Dr. Paul Y. Burns, Mr. Willis V. Reed, Mrs. Robert Madden, Dr. Press L. Robinson, Mrs. Eva R. Legard, Mrs. Harriet Sento, Mrs. Mary B. Wall, Dr. Yousef Danesh, Ms. Rupert F. Richardson, Mr. Richard Goldberger, Mrs. Doucette Pascal, Mr. William P. Black, Mrs. Evelyn C. Hollins, Dr. Hilda C.M. Arndt, Dr. Huel D. Perkins, Dr. Raymond B. Floyd, Mrs. Dorothy L. Stubbs, Mrs. Marian R. Baun, Major Reginald R. Brown, Rabbi Barry L. Weinstein, Mr. A.Z. Young, Rev. Christopher H. Andrews, Dr. Rogers J. Newman, Dr. Valerian E. Smith (posthumous), Mrs. Eileen R. Armstrong, Mr. Jewell J. Newman, Miss Mercedese Broussard, Dr. Robert B. Holtman, Horatio C. Thompson, Patrick S. Singleton and Dr. Florence Robinson.

 

B. HISTORY OF THE LAFAYETTE COUNCIL ON HUMAN RELATIONS

 

The Lafayette Council was organized about 1965 through the efforts of three committed individuals - Mr. J. Carlton James, Dr. James R. Oliver and Father Alexander O. Sigur. Mr. James was an African-American educator and long time worker for civil rights. Dr. Oliver was a Caucasian administrator at the University of Southwestern Louisiana and one of the founders of the Louisiana Council. Father Sigur was a Caucasian chaplain of the Catholic student center at USL who had been instrumental in the successful integration of the University in the late 1950's.

 

The first meetings were held at the Catholic Student Center, but soon, various other churches became involved. During the ealy days, the Council met in the basement of the First Methodist Church, and later met at the First Presbyterian Church, the Trinity Lutheran Church, the St. Paul's (Holy Family) School, and (for many years) at aTrinity CME Church.

 

The following (in roughly chronological order) are among those who held the office of President: Carlton James, Rev. Ray Branton (Methodist), Dr. James Oliver, Dr. Patricia Rickels, Dr. Milton Rickels, Dr. Kathleen Mahaffey, Mervin Harmon, Jude Alsandor, Rev. Andrew Harnack (Lutheran), Rev. William Frierson (Presbyterian), Rev. Archie Smith (Church of Christ), Rev. Luther Minor (CME Church), and Joseph Dennis, the current president.

 

In its earliest years, the Lafayette Council held monthly meetings, usually devoted to planning strategies to bring about positive social change. From the beginning the membership was about equally divided between Black and White members. The policy was that whenever the Council made a statement on any issue, gave a press conference, sent a committee to call on a business owner, or in any other way took a public position, a racially mixed group represented it. If a TV station called a member to participate in a dialogue or debate (as often happened), that person would accept on the condition that someone of another race would accompany him or her. It was felt that this was symbolically important.

 

Some projects were undertaken in cooperation with other organizations. Examples are voter registration drives with the NAACP and a campaign to open the annual Literary Rally to Black high schools with the AAUP chapter at then USL. On the occasion of the killing of Ricky Nelson (a young Black man who was shot by a policeman at his construction job site after an allegation that some workman had whistled at a passing white woman), the Lafayette Council joined in a coalition of concerned organizations to protest the lack of prosecution of the police officer. Nelson, who had never had any trouble with the law, left a wife and several young children. No action was ever taken against the police officer, who reputedly had bragged about the killing.

 

On several occasions, small committees from the Council successfully brought about change by very low-key negotiations. Several businesses who employed Blacks only in custodial positions were persuaded to give them other positions, including (this was a hard sell) jobs requiring them to collect money and work a cash register. This was upon agreement that there would be no publicity whatever and that the Council kept silent about its role in the change. The members of the Council were glad to comply. The

editor of the local newspaper also yielded to the Council requests, first, to stop labeling

advertisements for sale or rental of homes as White or Colored. Later he agreed

to publish obituaries and announcements of engagements and weddings of African

Americans as well as Whites. No one knew the Council had accomplished this.

 

For a year, the Council held a series of monthly programs on The People and the Law. The District Attorney, Chief of Police, Sheriff, a Judge, and several attorneys explained the way the legal system worked, how citizens should respond if accused of law-breaking, what their rights and duties were, about jury service, about the jails, about problems they perceived and reforms they would like to see in the justice system.

 

The Council invited candidates for local offices to present their positions and answer questions before elections. As years went by and there were no major crises in race relations, attendance at Council meetings fell to the point that sometimes there were more candidates than members in the audience. Only the annual Christmas party was well attended. Dues were collected at this time.

 

The Council abandoned the idea of monthly meetings and began to have, in addition to the holiday party, an annual appreciation dinner (in the form of a potluck meal) at which one or more humanitarian awards were given. By permission of Mrs. Coretta King, they were named Martin Luther King Humanitarian Service Awards. About ten such awards were given over a period of years.

 

By that time, all the really active members of the Lafayette Council were serving on the State Board of Directors and several held major offices. The quarterly meetings of the Louisiana Council seemed to consume most of the time and energy of the members. Also, most of these persons were involved with several other worthy organizations. As a result, the local council dwindled into inactivity. As of 2000, the local coucil has not met in several years, but could quickly reactivate if the situation warranted. However, local humanitarian issues are being addressed through the Board of the (State) Louisiana Council on Human Relations in that several members from the Lafayette area hold offices in the State Council.

 

Patricia Rickels

Secretary

Lafayette Council on Human Relations

 

 

III. LOUISIANA COUNCIL ON HUMAN RELATIONS POSITION PAPERS

A. POSITION PAPER ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

(Adopted 3/16/91)

 

We support the principle that inequities resulting from a history of discrimination should be redressed through affirmative action. By affirmative action we mean (1.) an aggressive search for qualified applicants of the target group and (2.) careful measures to insure that procedures of application, interview, and screening do not (even inadvertently) continue past patterns of discrimination. 

 

In choosing from a pool of qualified applicants, we believe that serious consideration should be given to cultural diversity (including race, gender, ethnic identity, and religion) as a positive value in American society.

We do not support quotas if this would require selection of unqualified applicants; however, percentage guidelines (echoing population figures) may be useful in setting goals.

 

B. POSITION PAPER ON THE DEATH PENALTY

Adopted Dec. 9, 1989 and Sept. 28, 1996

 

The Louisiana Council on Human Relations opposes the death penalty on the following grounds:

1. It discriminates against ethnic minorities, who are executed out of all proportion to their percentage of the population. The Supreme Court of the United States does not dispute this fact. Statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicate that 92% of those on death row are there because they have killed a white person, yet half of all murder victims in any given year are persons of color.

2. It discriminates against the poor, since those who are financially able to hire experienced attorneys and pay the considerable expenses of an aggressive defense are seldom convicted of capital crimes. The poor have to manage with overburdened public defenders.

3. There is no conclusive evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime.

4. Inevitably, in an imperfect world, mistakes are made in the administration of the criminal justice system. The death penalty makes it impossible to redress such errors.

5. We like to think of ourselves as an enlightened nation, yet other civilized countries have stopped executions, while ours go on. We recognize the need for penalties, but we do not recognize the need for the death penalty. The death penalty is morally wrong.

C. Dialogue on Race Relations in America

Adopted July 19, 1997

 

As we view the racial situation in 1997, the major issue confronting America is that of income disparity, not entirely though largely between the majority of Americans and minorities. We would not view the racial situation in one-dimensional terms, for the complexity of issues involved is multidimensional. Yet the one issue of income disparity relates to virtually all other issues in one way or another.

 

Although news analysts and politicians sometimes speak of "the white community," it is more customary for them to speak of "the black community" or "the Latino community" or "the Indian community" or just "Indians" lumped together. In reality, in the present circumstances, it would be more appropriate to speak of "black or Latino or Indian communities." At one time there may have been an excuse to consider these communities as monolithic and single-class entities in that legal segregation drew a line between the majority whites and African Americans and de facto segregation between majority whites and Latinos; and reservation status rendered native Americans almost entirely one in deprivation. Such is no longer the case.

Among African Americans there has arisen a marked distinction between those who "have made it" and those who have not. There are some commentators like Clarence Page who have not forgotten their roots and make common cause with the disproportionate numbers of African Americans who are poor. There are some middle class African Americans who likewise cannot forget the struggles they had to overcome the dual burdens of segregation and poverty. But it is a sad fact that there are elitist black persons who reject their heritage and denigrate their fellows who are still in poverty as not taking responsibility "as we did" for pulling themselves up out of poverty. And by far the majority of middle class African Americans by their acceptance of the myths of the elite serve the same function as in former days Southern whites performed in rejecting any connection with "pore white trash." Whether these elitist and middle class black people acknowledge the fact or not, their efforts alone were not what brought them to their present status, but instead they were given opportunities by affirmative action programs and other means bought by the blood, sweat, and tears of civil right workers in times past.

So, too, in Latino communities some of the same dynamics are operating, though, of course, with differences arising from different historical circumstances. In Indian communities, with the singular arrangement of reservations on which most Indians still live, poverty is most likely even greater than in Latino and black communities. Nevertheless, there is a similar division between those who "have made it" and those who have not.

The generality of Americans, including many in minority communities, appear to be doing quite well. Posh restaurants are filled, sports and cultural events well patronized, luxury cars most everywhere, and stores stocked with luxury goods. The stock market's spectacular rise has benefited thousands, perhaps millions, directly and indirectly. The unemployment rate is relatively low. Yet the downside is also recognizable in this seemingly universal prosperity. Corporate downsizing has led to layoffs, so that many of those who had enjoyed upper middle class benefits now must accept a much lower economic position. An unemployment rate of five or six percent is regarded as low whereas in earlier days three percent was the acceptable rate. Those who had higher-paying jobs now have to be content with service-related poorer-paying ones. What is true in the majority population is even more pronounced in minority populations.

With the attacks on affirmative action succeeding in convincing many citizens that it is no longer needed, we affirm to the contrary that the effects of slavery and de jure and de facto segregation have not been eradicated to anywhere nearly the extent that conservative think tanks and the media represent. Already, for example, minority enrollments are dropping in colleges and universities. This avenue to advancement into the mainstream which has been so helpful to many minority individuals to help themselves is now fast closing off. This effect of eliminating affirmative action programs is only a beginning of such results. To be sure, many instances of so-called "reverse discrimination" can be acknowledged; and yet on balance among all benefits of affirmative action they seem to be examples of what the great psychologist Gordon Allport called "the impressive single instance."

In 1964 when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was being debated in the Congress and in the country, Southern Democrats devised a plan, which they hoped would make the Act subject to derision, which in turn would assure its defeat. They amended the draft of the Act to include gender along with race as a category protected from discrimination. Instead, the other members of the Congress accepted the addition and voted it into law. At the time, the income of women averaged 59 percent that of men. Under affirmative action relating to women, the average income of women has indeed risen to perhaps 75 percent of men's. Nevertheless, in this area it has been shown that the large majority of CEOs in the country, with signal exceptions, of course, are still male. And the difference between men's and women's incomes, although brought up on the average from what it was in 1964, is yet manifest in the condition in many businesses and industries wherein the same job pays more for a man than for a woman. And the "old boy network" which opens opportunities for advancement in our society is often if not usually the old boys' network.

Opponents of affirmative action constantly speak of a "level playing field" by which they mean that there should be no preferential treatment of anyone, that all should start out equally. How unrealistic such demands are under present circumstances is recognizable for both racial and gender conditions. Until every child in America can be certain within reasonable limits that his/her mother has adequate nutrition and prenatal care for her child, of the kind most well-off mothers take for granted; until every child in America has adequate postnatal pediatric care, of the kind most well-off mothers take for granted; until every child in America can be certain within reasonable limits that educational quality is somewhere nearly comparable from the richest to the poorest; that is, until the starting conditions for children are relatively equal, it is utterly hypocritical or at least wilfull ignorance to assert that there can be a "level playing field."

 

How can there be a "level playing field" for children in poor neighborhoods whose schools are demonstrably less adequate than those in wealthy suburbs? "White flight" to escape desegregation not only to affluent suburbs but to private schools has exacerbated the differential tax bases in the former case and has eroded support for the public school system in the latter case.

How can there be a "level playing field" for poorer citizens in the criminal justice system when the differential treatment of those who cannot afford expensive lawyers contrasts with that of those who can? This gap between rich and poor reaches its most extreme expression in the implementation of the death penalty, which is so disparate that the American Bar Association has called for a moratorium on executions until the situation can be remedied.

 

Although there has been debate as to whether there is "environmental racism" or not, the facts speak for themselves when maps of the locations of polluting plants are examined: They have been often if not largely placed in minority and/or poor neighborhoods and almost never in affluent neighborhoods. And epidemiologists have determined that the incidence of pollution engendered or abetted diseases is greater in such low-income neighborhoods. How can the child reared in debilitating circumstances like these be regarded as starting out on a "level playing field"?

 

Many of the very ones who now object strenuously to affirmative recruitment for colleges and universities are the ones who benefited from the great uplift of the GI Bill of Rights which was preferential treatment. But, of course, it can be argued, they served their country in war, so they should have had such treatment. Yes, but it is not known among the majority community that African American service people were not treated equally but had to fight for the right to obtain benefits under the GI Bill. Even in this area, discrimination existed so that minorities did not come out on a "level playing field."

Additionally, the conservative revolution which has targeted the welfare system has generated the notion that people still on welfare are not doing anything to better themselves. We need to look at the welfare system from an historical perspective. Welfare "as we have known it" was born in the Great Depression when a quarter of the work force was unemployed, not because workers were lazy, but because the excesses of the Roaring Twenties which occasioned the 1929 stock market crash and the consequent Depression led to structural unemployment. Farm mortgages were being foreclosed at an alarming rate. City dwellers were being thrown out on the streets. Youth gangs were roaming the countryside with the potential for rioting and bloodshed. If the government had not taken steps to alleviate the misery, there would no doubt have been a revolution.

"Make work" was instituted in the Works Progress Administration for unskilled laborers; and under that umbrella, artists of all varieties, who might have been instrumental in leading a revolution, were given the opportunity to do their creative work. The Public Works Administration provided skilled laborers useful work creating public buildings. The Civilian Conservation Corps gave youth a chance to work at meaningful endeavors in national parks and elsewhere. Finally, the welfare system as we came to know it was established on the premise that no one in this land of plenty should go hungry.

There were mistakes made in setting up such a system. Instead of making it easy for participants to go gradually from full dependency on the system to full participation in the mainstream, by forcing folk to go directly from the shelter of welfare to a job, the cutoff was absolute. Today one has help; next day one is completely on one's own. Further, such regulations as "man in the house" gave no incentive for couples to marry and together gain their independence. And as so often happens, the bureaucracy which developed to administer the system often thought the system existed to serve them rather than their clients. Other inadequacies existed in welfare, which should have been overcome across the years as they were recognized but were not.

 

However much the system needed mending, and this Council has pointed out many of its grave problems, it did not need elimination but fixing. Now, with "welfare as we know it" gone, there is no telling what can happen when the periods run out allotted for welfare recipients to get off and get jobs, jobs of which there are not enough; and when the fixed lifetime length of receiving benefits is exhausted, where will people turn? Will they turn to jobs that are not there? Will they turn to scrabbling in garbage bins as folk did during the Depression? Will they turn to crime to assure their families do not starve? Major charities have declared that they are not in any position to take up the slack for those who for various reasons cannot maneuver without help. The full force of the legislation of last year ending welfare will not be felt for a couple of years. It is our prediction that the unforeseen consequences may be overwhelming.

 

Among the long-term actions taken by the Roosevelt administration, after taking care of the short-term emergency, was adoption of Social Security, an insurance for workers to supplement their own private or employers' retirement plans, neither of which was considered adequate for the majority of workers. We should emphasize that Social Security was not intended to be an "entitlement" as welfare came to be, but insurance to which both the worker and his/her employer contributed, with risk spread across the entire population of workers, thus making it affordable to employer and employee, impossible otherwise. That a number of additional benefits were attached to Social Security across the years made the system cumbersome in some ways. Unlike the situation with welfare, though, when the Congress has seen need for bolstering the system, Congress has taken action. We cannot emphasize enough that Social Security is sound. It is one of, if not the most, efficient operations of government. If the apparent Trust Fund were not being used to make the national debt seem smaller than it is, that Trust Fund would be the most stable of all government funds. There is no reason that there should be anything done more than the regular adjustments Congress has made.

However, there are powerful forces that would privatize Social Security either in part or entirely. We are convinced that if any part of Social Security is turned over to private enterprise, it will spell the death of the system. The rather meager payments now received by poorer people will vanish completely. Wall Street and other financial interests try to make us believe that individuals can gain a greater return on their investment by being able to put their Social Security funds in stocks and bonds. That may be true for those who know how to play the stock and/or bond market. But for the majority of low-income people in whose welfare we are vitally interested, returns cannot be what they are being portrayed now. And should the markets suffer severe declines, lifetime accumulations through Social Security may well be lost under privatization, as they cannot be lost now. We can understand why financial institutions would like to profit from a system by which the government does the collecting. We cannot blame them for wishing to profit from such a wonderful system. We do fault them and their henchmen in conservative think tanks and institutions for failing to tell the whole story of what privatization would mean.

We agree with conservative thinkers that problems relating especially to welfare and to a lesser extent Social Security are essentially moral and even spiritual ones. We could cite crime, family breakdown, and seeming irresponsibility of citizens as evidences of moral weakness. However, we seek the roots of these conditions rather than putting emphasis on the symptoms. The current triumph of the "market" begun earlier but made policy by the Reagan revolution has made greed respectable, seen most pronouncedly and symbolically in the vast increase in the ratio of CEOs' compensation to that of their employees'. The biblical precepts, of our being our brother's keeper and of compassion instead of blaming victims of market forces, have been eroded. We believe in capitalism, in parallel with Winston Churchill's graphic utterance about democracy, that it is the worst system of all except any other. Nevertheless, the bottom line cannot be the only consideration when dealing with people's lives. Compassion and caring with firmness are sound principles in a family; so they must be in society. There cannot be an unbridled capitalistic takeover that produces what Henry George saw in the last century, a society like a huge mass into which a wedge was being driven which pushed up those above and pushed down those below. George adopted a capitalistic solution, which recognized that wealth is created socially and its beneficiaries should share through taxation what society has created. Karl Marx also described in comparable terms what he saw as great injustices in the operation of the capitalistic system and proposed a communistic system, which ultimately came to be embodied in Russia where tyranny had abounded to the extent that the masses finally rose up against it and put Marx's system in place, which as we know was distorted by those who stood to profit from the Russian Revolution and was the beginning of Stalinism.

 

Although things might not come to the pass where armed rebellion against the government of the United States would succeed, we are concerned with the trends in the country that might well open the way for such a consummation. The lower and lower participation in the electoral process indicating that millions, most notably poorer citizens, do not think they share in governance, the rise of neo-Nazi militia movements which tap into the discontent of dispossessed people, the greater boldness of anti-minority groups, the increasing influence of great wealth on governmental activities, the failure of the Fourth Estate in general to serve the purpose of governmental watchdog, the so-called "War on drugs" which has violated our basic Constitutional rights, especially those of minorities, all these are tied in with disparity of income in many ways (though, to be sure, having numerous other significances).

We in the Louisiana Council on Human Relations have worked in the area of race relations since 1964. In this relatively short period of time, we have seen many evidences of improvement, for which we are indeed thankful. But in these last few years we have been dismayed by weakening in the resolve of state and federal governments to continue the progress and indeed by engaging in efforts to turn back the clock. As we have stated, there are many dimensions to problems and possibilities in race relations, so concentration on one issue, that of income disparity, does not blind us to a multitude of other issues. In the last analysis, however, the major issue standing out among all is the one we have addressed in this position paper.

D. POSITION PAPER ON PRISON REFORM

(Adopted by LCHR Board of Directors September 16, 1972.)

Reaffirmed October 18, 1997

Before any prison reform can be truly effective we must speak to some of the underlying injustices in our society. The problems in our prisons are simply a reflection of the problems in society at large. Both the human causes and the human victims of prison life reflect the values of our society. As long as dual standards of justice exist for the rich and the poor our prison system will remain unreformed. As long as government handouts to the rich are socially approved "subsidies" and handouts to the poor are socially maligned "0welfare" we have no basis for reform. As long as "criminal justice" depends on a person's financial and social status we have no basis for reform.

 

Another basic question is the definition of "crime" and what crimes should be punished by imprisonment. It often appears that the basis for crime and punishment is not violence and injustice but what threatens our cultural values. Although fraud, bribery, deception in advertising, embezzlement, and exploitation of the poor are hundreds of times more costly in terms of money than is simple theft and robbery, it does not represent the threat to American values (private property, status, "hard work") that simple theft represents. Although less than 1% as costly, simple theft and robbery must be punished while fraud, bribery, deception in advertising, embezzlement, and exploitation of the poor often go unpunished.

 

Because one dares to (even indirectly) challenge the accepted cultural norms, he or she is considered unworthy to be classified as a human being and is denied autonomy, degraded as a person; not allowed to freely interact with other human beings in any meaningful or beneficial way and attempts are made to destroy family ties.

While recognizing that the greatest reforms must take place outside prisons where the "free" element of our society determines the fate and life-style of our prisoners we of the Louisiana Council on Human Relations nevertheless recognize the following needs in prison reform:

1.     Reform of the bail system so that bail is equally available to all regardless of race or economic standing.

2.     Prisoners should be given every constitutional privilege guaranteed to the average citizen except those that are inherently inconsistent with the institution.

3.     It should be the burden of the institution to justify why it has deprived prisoners of their rights rather than the burden of the prisoners to justify why they should not be deprived of their rights.

4.     Prison rules should be available to prisoners in written form. Rules should include: prohibition of excessive punishments, due process in disciplinary actions, right of prisoners to counsel, to cross-examination, and right to avoid self-incrimination.

5.     Opportunities for reading material, facilities for vocational training, counseling, and continuing education.

6.     Opportunity for work release programs, eligibility for social security, unemployment compensation, exclusive title to control over all products of literary, artistic or personal craftsmanship produced on prisoners' own time.

7.     Establishment of parole rules and policies which incorporate full due process.

E. POSITION PAPER ON POVERTY

Adapted May 3, 1969 - Reaffirmed September 20, 1997

 

A breakdown in human relations is evident and pervasive. It is presently taking place at all levels of life: students against University management, the Pepsi Generation against their parents, labor against management, slum-dwellers against police . . . the 1ist is endless.

 

At the same time poverty is increasing, not so much as an absolute concept but in terms of a widening gap between rich and poor with an increasing number of people being affected. This is true, also, at all levels: between the highly technically developed Western World and the undeveloped Third World, between rich segments of this Country's population and an increasing number of outcasts. In this State the situation does not seem to be any better -- even worse in some aspects.

 

It is a belief of this Council that there is a relationship of cause and effect between poverty and breakdown in human relations. This belief makes it imperative for the State Council on Human Relations and its associate groups to be directly concerned with ways and means to alleviate poverty in the State of Louisiana.

This belief is based on the following evidences:

1. The Kerner Report has proven beyond any doubt that the conditions of life in the racial ghetto are strikingly different from that of a "normal" environment, and that they are significantly inferior.

2. The ghetto is a direct product of a breakdown in human relations. People living there are largely migrants from the rural South. This migration is a direct result of poverty and segregation. Residential segregation in metropolitan areas is a result of prejudice. Poor migrants other than Negroes are usually soon absorbed into the larger society. It is also recognized that the cost of housing is generally higher for Negro residents than it is for Whites. This makes it difficult for Negroes to get decent housing.

3. There is a vicious cycle of poverty, which does not necessarily follow racial lines: low income leads to poor housing which results in poor health; this is tied in with poor education which in turn, affects employment and brings a low income.

At each stage of this cycle there is a corresponding breakdown in human relations. Segregated housing brings about segregated schools, inferior health services (with greater health hazards), lack of job opportunities, etc. These are the conditions prevalent throughout the Country. It is the belief of the Louisiana Council on Human Relations (LCHR) that Louisiana presents a "home made" replica of the national picture.

1. The case of the rural Negro is not very different from that of the ghetto dweller. The plantation system, still found in several parishes, is similar to that of the ghetto, with the added problem of isolation that renders common action difficult.

2. In some areas there is an appearance of "good relations". This is very superficial. In fact "relations" are almost non-existent. Instead, there is a kind of compromise, a coexistence, giving an illusion of peace, resulting in an extensive apathy on both sides, covering up a deep resentment.

 

In spite of the racial differences and misunderstandings, it is becoming increasingly clear that, at least in some areas of the State, the real problem lies beyond racial lines. It is a struggle between the "poor" black and white and the "establishment" black and white. The "establishment" may not necessarily represent people in public office but more generally all those who "pull the strings" publicly or behind the scene.

Louisiana is still, to a great extent, an underdeveloped country. A large segment of the white population has been left behind. The middle class rejects the white poor as well as the Negro poor, even more if it is possible: "he should have more ambition," "he can't say he has been oppressed," "he does not want to," "they are happy the way they are". . . are remarks frequently heard. The white poor is despised because he is not living up to the standards of the white people. In a way the poor White is worse off than the poor Negro because he is "lost," he has no tangible sign of unity with a "soul brother", no "human relation" with other poor. He is more despised and more fearful of getting involved in common self-help projects with other poor. He has also been largely left out of OEO programs. He is usually living in remote rural areas with less access to sources of betterment.

 

As they learn to relate with one another, the white poor and the black poor discover that they have much in common. They begin to realize that the "establishment" has fostered disunity among them in order to keep power. The threat their unity presents to the "establishment" increases the pressure to keep them poor and silent. Thus poverty is a result of a breakdown in human relations and efforts to combat it should start by establishing rapport between poor black and white.

Poverty is also a cause of breakdown in human relations:

1. It is a cause of breakdown in family life: divorce, illegitimacy . . . are often consequences of poverty or means to combat it.

2. Poverty maintains people in the ghetto or on the farm (sharecroppers), making it impossible for the victims to move ahead and take their places in the mainstream of life.

3. Lack of education makes it impossible to know how to behave in middle class society; finding jobs is then difficult. It maintains prejudiced attitudes on both sides.

Some of the accusations against the poor, such as laziness, dirtiness, lack of incentive, are justified; but the failure to recognize their cause or to help them maintains or increases the breakdown in human relations.

Wasted human resources cause bitterness, resentment and riots. Even the white liberals begin to wonder what is their place in this struggle, while the "Black Power" advocates reject all white "Interference." In many ways the struggle against prejudice is tied with the struggle against poverty. As the vicious cycle is breaking it can be turned into a ladder toward improvement: Poverty can be used as a rallying point. Crises can unite black with black, black with white, etc. As people begin to work together they can learn the true meaning of community. As they learn to know one another they can learn to appreciate the each other. As poverty recedes and the need for rivalry diminishes there is hope for better human relations. Poverty will be overcome only by concerted effort of all, and all are affected by poverty.

 

It is the position of LCHR to encourage its members (and help them help others):

1. To recognize that all segments of the population are directly or indirectly affected by the existing poverty and its consequent breakdown in human relations.

2. To evaluate the depth and the extent of poverty in their respective areas, with a special attention to the different ethnic groups which are affected.

3. To intensify contacts between people affected by poverty across racial lines, giving them the opportunity to discover one another and their common bonds, to work together on common projects to change their condition, to realize that only by banding together they will be able to withstand the increasing pressure created by the "establishment."

4. To help middle class groups, whether black or white, realize the part they can play in lessening this class struggle.

F. POSITION PAPPER ON LABOR

December 10, 1977, Reaffirmed October 18, 1997

 

Unions are based on the constitutional tenet of right to assemble. All persons have the right to organize. No genuine reform of society and/or of unions will occur without the united efforts of all working persons. Every effort must be taken to uphold the right of everyone to unionize and to attain an active voice in setting directions and policies of unions. Based on these premises:

LCHR fully supports the right of all persons to bargain collectively in order to obtain better and more humane working conditions as well as just and adequate pay.

LCHR deplores the insensitivity of some union officials and members to fellow workers especially the working poor.

LCHR condemns any attempts, no matter how veiled, to deny the right of unionization to any persons or group of persons.

Unions' insensitivity and denial of rights have been expressed in racist policies, employment of double standards for male and female workers as well as for black and white workers and most blatantly through an almost total neglect of agricultural workers and other disadvantaged and often disenfranchised workers.

While recognizing and deploring the past failures of organized labor LCHR recognizes that unions are the only presently existing structures which can secure justice for working persons and we appeal to presently established unions in Louisiana to:

1. Set up within their own institution models of government that are just and responsive to the needs of the members.

2. Require of their leadership honesty and integrity.

3. Actively engage in the process of supporting and organizing agricultural workers and other workers not presently organized.

4. Work for federal, state, and local legislation which will guarantee to every working person a decent, adequate, living wage and to seek legislation and enforcement which will insure employment and just pay for everyone able to work.

LCHR feels that if unions fail to pursue these four objectives they will have failed in their responsibility to union members and in their responsibility to the total society.

G. POSITION PAPER ON POLICE-COMMUNITY RELATIONS

Adopted July 11, 1992 and October 18, 1997

 

Society today is making more demands on the law enforcement profession than ever before in history. Because of these severe and complex requirements, law enforcement executives must better select, train, and prepare their officers,

In the education of police officers, it is essential that the following points be emphasized:

1. They must never lose their self-control, no matter what the provocation.

2. They may take no position on issues in dispute, only keep the peace between opposing parties.

3. They are not authorized to judge and punish law-breakers.

4. Only the minimum tools and force necessary to control or arrest persons should ever be used.

"The greater the complexity of social problems, the more urgent the need for community-based policing rather than para-military models. Police departments need to join in partnership with citizens to deal effectively with problems which are threatening the security of all our communities."

H. POSITION PAPER ON WOMEN'S RIGHTS

October 18,1997 (revised) and reaffirmed

 

Fundamental to the philosophy of the Louisiana Council on Human Relations (LCHR) is the principle of sex equity and the corollary that discrimination based on sex is inherently wrong and, thus, merits immediate and active concern. The LCHR believes there exist two related, yet distinct, barriers to sex equity. The first is direct discrimination whereby women are denied access to job opportunities and/or equal pay for equal work. The second is the indirect discrimination, which permeates the lives of every person in America.

 

This second form of discrimination is more subtle and more insidious than the first, for it is more difficult to identify and correct. It includes the low value placed on women's work both in the home and in female-specific jobs, and embraces the stereotyped female role as the passive helpmate of the male.

Of primary importance to the elimination of both direct and indirect forms of discrimination is the passage of a total and unambiguous Equal Rights Amendment at both national and state levels. The 1978 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights reported "Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment continues to be essential to the attainment of equal rights for men and women under the law. Measured by any standard, women continue to be disadvantaged by gender based Laws and practices." LCHR agrees that the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment is essential if women are to receive legal justice.

The need for economic justice for women follows closely in importance. The concentration of women in gender-segregated occupations is clearly related to economic inequality. Although men earn more than women in all occupations, those occupations most populated by women workers are the lowest paid of all occupations.

The 1990 census showed that in Louisiana, that year, women were 6.3% of precision production, craft and repair workers - the third largest occupational area in the State. Additionally, women were 9.4% of transportation and material moving workers and 15.5% of general machine operators.

Differences in earnings are exacerbated by race. In the 1990 census for the U.S., median income for white women working full time and year round was $20,840; Black women $18,518; Hispanic women $16,186. In the same year white men's median income was $30,186; Black men's $21,540; Hispanic men's $19,134.

 

Because of childbearing and rearing responsibilities, many women take time out from paid employment. Since most pension plans contain stringent requirements that workers be employed for a long period of time, women who drop out of the paid labor force to take care of their families may forfeit contributions they have made and find themselves ineligible for any benefits. LCHR asserts the need for: (1) equal pay for equal work; (2) increased educational and training opportunities to prepare women for skilled and professional employment; (3) incentives to attract women to these educational and training programs; (4) provision of government funded day care centers for child care for mothers in school or at work; provision of child care during late evenings and night if necessary; (5) recognition of the value of women's work in the home by allowing homemakers to earn social security benefits; (6) the correction of inequities in pension plans that can deprive a woman of her husband's benefits if he dies too young, if they divorce or if she is not listed as his beneficiary; (7) provision of health insurance to the approximately 4 million women aged 45 to 65 who lose it because of divorce or widowhood; and (8) the elimination of sex differential treatment of actuarial tables.

A third area of concern is the right of women to free movement with safety both within and outside the home. The battered woman must be provided free shelter to enable her to leave a life threatening or emotionally threatening home situation. Women have the right to move about freely outside the home without fear of attack. If she is attacked, she has the right to be defined victim, not perpetrator; to be treated with dignity; and to have access to resources for assistance.

 

Finally, LCHR affirms the right of a woman to determine the number, timing and spacing of her children. She has the right to sex education in order to understand her reproductive capabilities and the right to access the information and materials necessary to afford her this determination.

I. POSITION PAPER AGAINST DISCRIMINATION

ON THE BASIS OF ETHNIC/NATIONAL ORIGIN

APPROVED: Sept. 28, 1991 and Oct. 18, 1997

 

Every person resident in the United States, whether or not a citizen, should be free from discrimination based on race or national origin. Our nation does not have a good record in such matters: The systematic destruction of Native Americans and the enslavement of Africans was national policy for generations. The internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II was merely one more chapter in our history of such discrimination. Most recently, persons of Middle-Eastern origin, whether or not they were American citizens, were victims of war hysteria which made them suspect.

We strongly protest any and all efforts to subject individuals or groups to official or non-official scrutiny, intimidation, harassment, or detention on the grounds of their ethnic-cultural identity. Only when this condition prevails will we enjoy national security in the most essential sense, for when the rights of one group are violated, the rights of all are in danger.

J. FORMATION OF LOCAL COUNCILS

LOUISIANA COUNCIL ON HUMAN RELATIONS

Adopted 1/18/69 and 10/18/97

 

It is recognized that the overall objective of bettering human relations throughout the State will be achieved largely through the efforts of local councils. To achieve that end LCHR will devote considerable attention to see that such councils are formed and function effectively. While it is recognized that initiative and leadership must come from the local level, LCHR can nevertheless be of considerable assistance. Thus it becomes very vital that each local council formed seriously consider formal affiliation with the Louisiana Council on Human Relations.

1.     Members of the Board of Directors and Board of Advisors should work to identify those areas in which viable local councils can be formed.

2.     Through direct and mail contact with those likely to be so informed (ministers, etc.) the names of potential organizers of such councils should be solicited.

3.     As soon as areas of potential are detected, the president of LCHR should appoint a Board member from that vicinity to assist in the formation of a local council. Such members should report on the progress in formation of the local council at Board meetings and solicit help for available resources when necessary.

4.     Publicity should be issued (see paper on publicity) to make people throughout the state aware of LCHR and its desire that organizations at the local level be formed.

5.     Materials should be prepared and made available to local groups on how to proceed in forming councils and some suggested activities for such groups.

6.     Follow-through on the functioning of the local groups will generally be a must. Each Board member should take interest in those councils in his or her area, and attend as many of their meetings as possible. In addition, the state organizations should help to guide local groups as requested.

7.     Emphasis should be given both at the state level and at the local level on involving youth in human relations activities. This can be accomplished either by the formation of separate councils for young people and/or by their participation in regular local councils.

 

K. POSITION PAPER ON EDUCATION

January 10, 1998

 

Education is generally acknowledged to be an important factor in defining human attitudes. Attitudes, in turn, help shape human actions. The impact of education upon human interactions makes it incumbent upon the Louisiana Council on Human Relations to examine how what goes on in our schools affects what goes on in our society. Our examination reveals several areas of concern to the Council. It is in the interest of fostering better human relations through improved education that we subscribe to positions as listed below.

 

I. Curricular/Academic Concerns

(A) At no time should access to any public educational institution, program, course, or academic activity be denied or impeded on the basis of race, gender, religion, ethnic origin, or national origin.

(B) At all levels, curricula and instruction should seek to promote freedom from insularity and the ability to appreciate cultures other than one's own. To this end, textbooks should be carefully chosen to reflect contributions of minorities to the various disciplines and to avoid the projection of stereotypes.

(C) Every individual should be afforded the opportunity for optimal development of his/her talents and potentialities. Individual differences should be recognized and appropriately treated. Diagnostic services and special programs should be provided for the learning disabled.

(D) Remedial programs should be available for those who have been denied equitable educational opportunities, and retraining programs should be available for adults whose skills have been made obsolete by developments in technology or by changes in industry.

(E) Schools should seek to prepare students for a variety of post-secondary options. Programs needed for exercising those options should be made available.

 

II. Disciplinary/Safety Concerns

(A) Every individual in all components of the educational community - students, faculty, staff, administrators, members of governing boards, parents, and taxpayers current or prospective--has a right to be treated with respect, addressed with courtesy, and afforded active listening when he/she has something to say.

(B) All students have the right to pursue studies and all faculty members have the right to work in an atmosphere free from physical, verbal, or psychological abuse or harassment.

(C) Clearly written rules and regulations should govern student and faculty conduct not only on campus but also off campus when the individual is representing the school or is traveling under the auspices of the institution for any reason. Rules and regulations should be defined with input from all concerned components.

(D) Every educational institution should establish carefully formulated, written policies and procedures for conflict management or redress of grievances. These policies/procedures should be universally disseminated among all components of the institutional community, including parents of students when appropriate.

 

III. Concerns Related to Extracurricular Activities

(A) The Council recognizes that extracurricular activities are part of a student's education and can provide important learning experiences to participants. Such activities should be open to all according to their abilities and interests.

(B) Care should be taken that except where First Amendment rights dictate otherwise no material which is offensive with regard to racism, sexism, religious intolerance, or intolerance of ethnic or cultural differences is printed in any institutional publication or in any student publication such as yearbooks and newspapers. Institutional and student publications should refuse to print advertisements for businesses that are known to discriminate and should refuse to report offers of benefits that will be provided in a discriminatory manner. No material which is offensive with regard to racism, sexism, or other forms of intolerance should be presented to an audience under the guise of entertainment.

 

IV. Governance/Administrative Concerns

(A) When schools are to be built, locations should be chosen for maximization of integration with minimization of busing.

(B) Each educational institution or system should have a written Equal Employment Opportunity policy. The Council recognizes the advantages to be garnered from diversity of both faculty and student body at all levels and holds it desirable to achieve diversity even at the cost of busing students or resorting to affirmative action programs. Minority representation on all governing boards is also desirable.

(C) While the Council understands the importance of setting basic standards and goals, it nonetheless avers that there should be sufficient flexibility to allow for innovation, to permit experimentation in pedagogy, and to allow for choices in academic content. Flexibility in systems will also allow for charter or contract schools.

(D) At schools having financial aid programs, distribution of aid should be based upon preset criteria applied in an objective and nondiscriminatory manner.

(E) Accountability programs should begin with clear, written statements of what is expected. Evaluation instruments should be carefully constructed to measure achievement or success against preset aims or goals and should be objectively applied. Results of the evaluations should be used for both summative and formative purposes.

(F) The structure of school governing bodies should allow for involvement of parents and interested citizens to the greatest degree feasible. At the elementary and secondary school levels, there should be regular and frequent communication between the school and parents.

 

V. Community Concerns

(A) The community has an obligation to provide adequate and equitable resources for its schools. Facilities should be conducive to learning. Support services should be provided in adequate measure. Faculty compensation should be sufficient to attract students of high quality to the profession. Support for public school systems should not be diminished by support of private schools through the voucher system.

(B) For more equitable distribution of funds for elementary and secondary schools, a larger portion of funds for education should be administered by the State rather than by the local district.

 

VI. Concerns Related to Teacher Preparation Programs

(A) Preparation programs should strive to prepare teachers for working with students at inner city schools or in rural areas as well as with students in the suburbs.

(B) Prospective teachers should be brought to understand the developmental nature of learning and the implications of that nature for teaching.

 

L. POSITION PAPER ON THE DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF FELONS

Date Approved: October 12, 2002

 

The disenfranchisement of felons dilutes the voting strength of minorities and the poor. The Sentencing Project and by Human Rights Watch (year 2000) reports that nearly 3.9 million people in the United States are prohibited from voting, a majority of whom are former convicts who have completed their sentences. States use a provision of the Fourteenth Amendment to revoke voting rights of inmates. A majority of states eventually restore voting rights to convicted felons once they have completed their prison terms and/or have completed their probation periods. However, each state is at liberty to set its own policy in regards to when and if it will restore voting rights to felons.

Section 1 of the Fifteenth Amendment states that "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment states in part that "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of the Citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." However, where section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment begins with the statement "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, … ", it mentions that when the right to vote is denied under certain circumstances, the basis of representation shall be reduced in proportion to such numbers. States use this provision to deprive certain felons of their voting rights.

In that minorities and the poor constitute a disproportionate percentage of the prison population and a disproportionate percentage of disenfranchised votes, the denying of voting rights to persons who have completed their restitution to society is a form of discrimination. It is therefore the position of the Louisiana Council on Human Relations that voting rights should be automatically restored to felons once they have completed their sentence terms.

 

A NON-PROFIT NON-SECTARIAN ORGANIZATION DEDICATED TO EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY AND IMPROVED HUMAN RELATIONS