Asheville Area Human Relations Council

 

"Some Observations Relative to the Proposal Adopted by the Human Relations Council of January 28, 1966."

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SOME OBSERVATIONS RELATIVE TO THE PROPOSAL ADOPTED BY THE HUMAN RELATIONS COUNCIL ON JANUARY 28, 1966

 

Having made the motion at a recent meeting of the Human Relations Council which called for a joint-committee to investigate and study possibilities of forming a new organization, it has occurred that I might put into writing some observations relative to an organizational structure for the new organization. These observations are the conclusions of one member of the Human Relations Council, and by no means are they to be construed as an attempt on my part to speak for the Human Relations Council. Neither are they to be interpreted as presumption on my part to impose a particular view-point upon the joint-committee or to influence its deliberations in any way other than by furnishing thoughts and ideas for consideration. These observations are made with the understanding that my conclusions at the present are sufficiently flexible to be modified or altered altogether, an attitude and spirit which each member of the joint-committee must likewise possess in in undertaking such an assignment.

 

WHY PROPOSAL WAS MADE: The proposal was made in response to a request from the Asheville-Buncombe County Citizens Organization that the Human Relations Council broaden its scope of interests to work creatively for improved inter-racial understanding rather than to function, as originally organized, in mediating racial differences. The Human Relations Council has been aware of its limitations which are both its strength and weakness. However, in recent years, certain members the Council have been open to broadening its purpose and function, although to date

 

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no official change has been proposed. The Asheville-Buncombe County Citizens Organization, as currently constituted, is already functioning in the areas specified for consideration by the Human Relations Council. There is therefore no need for duplication of effort by the Human Relations Council unless the Asheville-Buncombe County Citizens Organization is likewise willing to be reconstituted in a new organization with a united purpose inclusive of both former organizations.

 

PROPOSED PROCEDURES FOR JOINT-COMMITTEE NEGOTIATIONS: My motion at the Human Relations Council did not specify details relative to committee procedures. It was my assumption that the joint-committee might elect its own chairman, enter into a general discussion of purpose and goals for the new organization, arrive at certain conclusions as to how the new organization would be structured, and then to appoint a sub-committee to put into writing an initial draft. As this task is an enormous undertaking, it was also my assumption that the joint-committee might request additional time beyond the March,1, 1966 deadline before submitting its final report. The report when completed would then be received by both organizations for study and discussion, and hopefully for adoption by both.

 

PURPOSE AND GOALS OF THE NEW ORGANIZATION: The purpose and goals of the new organization should be inclusive of those already undertaken by both groups. It has been said that the Human Relations Council is a "brush fire" council and that it only functions when a fire alarm is sounded. It is now proposed that its function should be enlarged to include "fire prevention." I agree wholeheartedly with the proposal, but I am also of the strong opinion that the new organization must not under any circumstances be an 'arsonist' group to kindle fires or ignite emotion. To function in this manner, in my opinion, would be self-defeating and harmful to good will and advances already achieved.

 

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NAME OF NEW ORGANIZATION: I believe the new organization should have an entirely different name. Although I like the terminology of "Human Relations Council, ' this organization has been sneered at to such an extent that the new organization could function more effectively if renamed. The new organization might be called "Asheville Area Citizens Council, " a hybrid term inclusive of terminology in tie names of both organizations. However, 'Citizens Council' would be a misnomer with unholy overtones reminiscent of other organizations with which we have nothing in common. At the moment, the name I prefer is "Asheville Area Community Council on Human Relations."

SCOPE OF INTERESTS: The scope of interests of the new organization should be confined exclusively to the Asheville area. I would prefer that the new organization have no organizational tie whatever with any other group on the state o national level. I believe this would enhance the influence of the new organization tremendously and would avoid any imagined implication of influence by "outsiders." The scope of interest should include mediation of racial differences, inter-racial communication, employment practices, educational opportunities, housing, health, and recreation.

ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE: The new organization should have a Chairman, Vice-chairman, and Secretary-treasurer. It might function through an Executive Committee composed of Chairmen of Working Sub-committees plus several members at large. The Working Sub-committees could be appointed to cover each area of interest indicated above.

MEMBERSHIP CONSTITUENCY: My opinion at the moment as to membership constituency is that membership in the new organization should be on a limited and elective

 

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basis. The new organization could be brought into existence initially by a nominating committee composed of an equal number of representatives from the parent organizations. Membership might be on a term basis of three or four years, staggered according to class designation, with members eligible for re-election to a second term. Thus structured, continuity of leadership would be maintained by having only one-third or one-forth of its membership changed annually. It seems to me that a maximum membership of about 100 would be sufficient. The organization would be large enough to be representative of the entire community but small enough to function efficiently, broad enough to work in all areas of responsibility without being muscle-bound by numerical bulk.

MEETINGS: The new organization should meet at least quarterly or as often as needful. Working Sub-committees would of course function on a sustained basis, meeting as often as needs require. One quarterly meeting each year should be devoted to the election of new officers and members, and to hearing annual reports from each Working Sub-committee. Quarterly meetings of the new organization Should be open to the general public, and opportunity could be given at that time to hear from anyone about specific matters needing attention.

Respectfully submitted for study and discussion:

A. Allen Gardner, Jr.

Member of Human Relations Council

February 5, 1966

 

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