Southern Regional Council and
the Georgia Human Relations Council
One of the self-proclaimed capitals of
New South, Atlanta served
as home-base for two influential, integrated civil rights organizations: the
Southern Regional Council (SRC) and its offshoot, the Georgia
Human Relations Council. Racially diverse in their membership,
the councils formed a united front in championing the equal rights
and equal treatment of black Georgians and black Americans.
Established in 1944, the SRC urged more liberal whites
to join forces with African Americans in their fight toward equal
rights. The SRC, a leading
opponent of segregation and
an advocate for civil rights in its era, succeeded the Commission
on Interracial Cooperation (CIC), an integrated organization
formed in 1919. The CIC formed in response to the increased tensions
Americans and black
soldiers returning home from fighting
in Europe during World War I. White Americans often spurned
these soldiers and expected
them to resume their place in the American underclass. Like the
CIC before it, the SRC was a coalition of lawyers, ministers, and
newspaper editors from thirteen southern states. Although the group
included men, women, blacks, and whites, the majority of
its members were white.
Often partners with other Civil
Rights Movement groups, along with
openly disapproving of segregated facilities, the SRC’s hallmark
was its use of communications and analysis. It published
important literature related to racial justice,
released studies on race relations and acted as a think-tank
for issues concerning the Movement. Its
flagship journal, New
South, attained its height in circulation between 1965 and
the early 1970s.
During the same period the SRC served as a liaison between a
number of southern organizations and northern foundations, providing
resources and opportunities for mutual understanding. The organization
also managed the Voter
Education Project of the Kennedy administration
which enabled philanthropic organizations to fund voter
registration efforts in the South.
Perhaps one of the SRC’s most important legacies
is its Georgia affiliate, the
Georgia Human Relations Council (GHRC), which provided
grassroots support for forming biracial coalitions.
Non-profit, interracial, and non-denominational, at is
peak, the GHRC operated
in cities across the state including
Athens, Augusta, Columbus, LaGrange, Macon, Rome,
and municipalities around Atlanta.
With approximately 1,500 members, working in law, medicine, religion,
and other sectors, the GHRC included social justice heavyweights
such as Frances
Freeborn Pauley and the Reverend
Dr. Charles S. Hamilton of Augusta's Tabernacle Baptist Church.
With the rise of "Black
Power" or Black
Consciousness in the United States,
the SRC and GHRC faced trying times. As
more African Americans embraced the black
nationalism that believed all-black organizations necessary to eliminate
racial oppression, it became harder to accept integrated or majority
white organizations as effective
advocates for change. The Black Power Movement challenged the effectiveness
of biracial or interracial councils in resolving racial tensions,
and sparked debates about the roles of white
southern liberals in the Movement. The SRC nevertheless
continues its mission of championing social justice and transforming
the South into a welcoming place for every American.
Resources (click here)
Printable Version (click here)
1. Visit our Macon
pages and read the essay Integrating
Tattnall Square Baptist Church. Discuss the criticism that white civil rights
advocates like McGill, Lillian Smith, and the Rev. Carter of Koinonia
Farm faced from both blacks and whites in the South.
2. Visit our Atlanta
pages and read the essay The
Black Panther Party in Georgia. What would the Panthers offer to urban African
Americans that integrated southern organizations like the SRC or
GHRC could not?
3. In 1905, the African American scholar W.E.B.
Du Bois organized
the Niagara Movement, which later became the NAACP.
What did he hope to accomplish by assembling an integrated group
of social activists? Look at covers of the Crisis, the NAACP's magazine
which continues to spotlight issues affecting African Americans.
In what ways do these illustrations anticipate the
concerns of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s?
Take it to the Streets!
Interview a member of your Student Council, your community
School Board or parent-teacher organization, or your city or town
council. Or invite one or more members of such groups to speak
to your class. What can you learn about the advantages and
disadvantages of building coalitions and partnerships across divisions
of class, race, or gender to solve problems? What current issues
in your community have such coalitions been particularly effective
or energetic in confronting and determining a solution that is mutually
satisfying and beneficial?
Writer: Kamille Bostick
Kamille Bostick, Christina L. Davis, Mary Boyce Hicks,
Professor Barbara McCaskill
Site Designer: William Weems
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