Governor's Human Rights Commission (GHRC)
Active dates:1956 - 1967
Function: To stimulate educational activities to develop respect for human rights and to direct government and public attention to racial injustices that might result in serious social disorder.
The comission conducted general educaiton programs in human relations, engaged in research, and worked closely with the State Commission against Discrimination (SCAD) in areas of concern to both groups. Moreover, it supported the efforts of private organizations, churches, and labor and business groups.
The GHRC also organized a biennail governor's conference on human rights, human relations institutes for law enforcement officers, and conferences and workshops to develop state plans to meet the commission's responsibilites. The GHRC tried to exert influence in areas untouched by other programs, in order to confront issues and probems on a statewide basis. African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, and migrant workers remained the commission's core groups of interest.
Note: All of the information in this record for the GHRC is from an entry titled: Governor's Interracial Commission, Minnnesota in "Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations" and written by Mollie A. Spillman.
In 1956, when Minnesota enacted a Fair Employment Practices law, the commission's name changed to the Governor's Human Rights Commission (GHRC). The GHRC's mission was to stimulate educational activities to develop respect for human rights and to direct governmetn and public attention to racial injustices that might result in serious social disorder. Although the GHRC was not set up by statute, it was recognized as an official state body by the Minnesota Legislature, which appropriated money for its operation and functioning.
In 1967, the state of Minnesota created the Department of Human Rights when the legislature broadened the scope of SCAD. The department absorbed the duties of the Governor's Human Rights Commission, the Minneapolis Mayor's Council on Human Relations, and the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women, which had been created by Executive order in 1963.
The governor appointed the commissino's thirty members from diverse religious, socioeconomic, and political backgrounds. Initially they served indefinite terms; however, in 1961, their terms were changed to coincide with the governor's tenure in office.
The GHRC's chairs were the Reverend Francis J. Gilligan (1943-1955), Earl R. Larson (1955-1960), Gladys Brooks (1961-1965), the Reverend Thomas Basich (1965-1966), Katie McWatt (1967), and Raymond Plank (1967); its executive directors were Clifford Rucker (1947-1962); Calvin Watson (1962-1965), Lawrence Borom (1965-1966), and Beverly Bergman Wickstrom (1967). Throughout its existence , the GHRC retained three governor-appointed ex-officio members: a representative from the governor's office, the deputy attorney general, and the commission's executive director.
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