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Community Relations Council of Greater New Orleans | Amistad Research Center

Name: Community Relations Council of Greater New Orleans

Historical Note:

The Community Relations Council of Greater New Orleans (CRC) was an organization established in 1962 by a group of progressive minded citizens of New Orleans to ameliorate racial tensions and promote community relations among all members of the New Orleans community regardless of race, color, ethnicity, or religion. This was to be achieved through discussions, negotiations, and mediations around the conference table rather than on the streets with the able assistance and participation of professionals, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Whites, African Americans, Hispanics, and other local, state, regional, and national agencies and organizations. Recommendations and solutions for economic, social, and political issues were studied and discussed.

Leonard Burns was the first president of the CRC. Other presidents included Joan Armstrong, Helen Mervis, and Revius Ortique.The Council was a leader in the campaign to peacefully integrate Audubon Park in the city, and worked as a mediator between New Orleans city officials and protestors during the march to integrate the cafeteria at the New Orleans City Hall. In 1968, the Council organized a meeting of New Orleans-based organizations concerned with the promotion of human relations in the city, out of which was born the "Round Table of Human Relations Groups," a body of over thirty like-minded organizations.  The next year leaders of various organizations interested in promoting human relations met for discussions on four issues: police-community relations, equal employment, housing and education, and communications media. An ad-hoc committee was formed to study incidents of police brutality, which presented a report entitled "The Police and the Rest of Us" was presented to the Round Table and featured in a 90-minute presentation on WYES television, which gained national coverage. The Round Table decided to continue with studies of the New Orleans Police Department on the small number of Black police officers (74 out of 1320 employees), the department's hiring and operational practices, budgeting, and recruitment.

During the controversial 1970 proposal to build a bridge over the Mississippi River in the Uptown area of New Orleans, the CRC Board of Directors supported a two-bridge proposal (with bridges to be built at Press Drive and at the Jefferson-Orleans Parish line). The CRC-supported proposal would have displaced 300 residents as opposed to the Uptown proposal that would have displaced 7,000 residents.

The Council stopped regular meetings in 1971, but during that same year, the CRC planned a one-day housing conference to be attended by various community agencies and groups, including representatives from the construction industry and housing authorities. A proposal for the development of the Fair Housing Agency in New Orleans was passed in 1972. The agency was a special program devoted to solving problems of blockbusting and to open up housing to anyone who has the purchasing or rent capacity, and was aimed at combating racism in the housing market.

In April and May of 1972, the CRC proposed the setting up of a bi-racial court appointed committee to study the desegregation problems in the Orleans Parish schools and requested that the Orleans Parish School Board remove the National Teacher's Examination scores as criteria for hiring of teachers. The Council also took a public stand on appointments and elections of African Americans to public offices, commending Governor Edwin Edwards and New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu for their appointment of African Americans to key positions in their respective administrations. The CRC also recommended that the election of delegates to the State Constitutional Convention be non-political and non-partisan.

Findley Raymond, who had served as Administrative Coordinator of the CRC resigned in 1972. Joan Bernard Armstrong served as President of the CRC from 1972-1974 prior to becoming the first African American woman elected to a Louisiana judgeship, when she became a judge in the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court.

Sources: Community Relations Council of Greater New Orleans records
Note Author: Sabita Manian

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