What civil rights or conflict management work did you do before your CRS work?


Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I was demoted for becoming involved in some civil rights activity within the agency. For example, at one point we took over the Youth Authority offices in Sacramento. We felt there were two problems with the system. One, the lack of minorities in the system itself, and two, we felt there was prejudicial mistreatment of inmates because of who they were. So we protested those things and wrote articles, and then used the offices of the State Department of Rehabilitation and Unemployment to do our work. The person there who was the manager allowed us to do this as long as we did it at night, and we didn't go through the main door....so we went through windows to be able to do that.



Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

The other one was that we used to have demonstrations, and on one, I went with the people who were demonstrating. Some of those marching were members of the correctional group that was trying to bring about reform. We never were given the opportunity to be heard; all we got was criticism. We said, "To hell with it. Let's demonstrate." So we demonstrated in front of one of their newer parole offices. Here I was, the highest-ranking guy involved in this thing and boy, the LAPD went wild taking pictures. Prior to that, I had made certain that my position was covered by my subordinate. I also made certain that whatever hours I took off to go to the demonstration, I put in that evening. Since I was the boss of that particular area, I didn't have to ask anybody's permission, so long as I made up the time. And that's what I did. But of course, once people are angry at you, none of that really matters. The issue went up to the director, and he understood. He, more than likely, wanted me to do some penance somewhere, but Reagan is the one that wanted me fired. So he finally reached an agreement with that group that I ought to have a demotion. They demoted me down from that position to Parole Agent 1, and it certainly hurt.



Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Were you involved in any other civil rights organizations or mediation work before CRS?

Answer:
At the time I belonged to LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens in San Antonio.




Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Were you involved in other Civil Rights or conflict management work at all before CRS?

Answer:
Oh yes, in New York, and even in Macon prior to becoming a member of the CRS family.




Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

My mother-in-law lived in Macon, GA. She was the first black in that area to house students who were involved in the voter registration project. She was very active, and so was my niece. When I moved here, I automatically was taken into the group that was marching and demonstrating. I participated with them and helped organize and raise money and different things. So I was looked upon as being one of the group that was organizing demonstrations, and I traveled to Atlanta to meet with Andy Young and the King family, and that sort of thing.



Edward Howden


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
What were you doing prior to joining CRS?

Answer:
I had been in the civil rights field in various capacities before I joined CRS. For seven-plus years I had been the first staff director of the California State Fair Employment Practice Commission, now known as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. I was an appointee of Governor Pat Brown. That agency got started in September of 1959, and I was the organizing staff person. Prior to that, for thirteen years, I was executive director of a city-wide interracial organization called the Council for Civic Unity of San Francisco. Today it would be called an activist/advocacy organization, fighting for fair employment laws, fair housing, urban redevelopment, non-discrimination policies and desegregation across the board. At that time (1945 - 1950s), there were no state or federal laws or policies, for example, prohibiting discrimination in redevelopment programs or private employment.




Bob Hughes


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Were you involved with any other civil rights or conflict management?

Answer:
For five years, I did human rights work in southern Africa. That was preceding the work at the Church Center for the United Nations.




Ernest Jones


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Were you involved in any other Civil Rights activities?

Answer:
Nope, none.




Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I was working part time at the post office, but working full time as a volunteer community activist in the Chicago 18th street area. I had moved to Chicago when I graduated from high school. I went to school in Chicago. The University of Illinois, Chicago City College, and Roosevelt University. Most of my time really was spent in community activities, like the great boycott with Cesar Chavez's people. Just a lot of activism. We felt at the time it would kind of shake up the system. We hoped when it settled we would be a little better off. So we worked in creating a high school in the 18th Street area, and a clinic in the neighborhood. We consulted with people and activists from everywhere, including the Black Panthers, who were in Chicago setting up a community clinic. We learned from them how to run a clinic. They'd been very successful in doing that in other cities.



Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
When you were at SER did you do any kind of conflict work, conflict management, or conflict resolution?

Answer:
No, not really, it was more just management and budgeting, time keeping, working with private industry for employment opportunities for the people that we were preparing, and working with the community groups in and around Denver in the area of employment. So you had to keep in touch with the community groups pretty much.

Question:
So you had a feel for community organizing and working with people?

Answer:
Well, I had been with the GI Forum for a long time and we always got into a lot of things, employment, housing, and education issues. A lot of them were police issues, so I had a kind of a feel for that sort of thing. So what I did in CRS was what I was doing for the GI Forum, only with CRS, I was getting paid We basically had the same issues coming up in the organization.




Ozell Sutton


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Would you say a little bit about how you got involved with CRS?

Answer:
I was a part of the group that conceptualized CRS before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I was director of the Arkansas Council on Human Relations and we were trying to get the Civil Rights Act structured and passed going all the way back to 1962. A group was meeting in Washington to conceptualize how we could get an act passed, given what it contained. I was assigned to two workshop groups. One was the Community Relations Service, although we didn't call it that at the time. We simply called it Civil Rights, or we would call it the Human Relations Groups, or that kind of thing. I was also assigned to the EO [Equal Opportunity] workshop group that finally came forth with EEOC, which is Title VII. So we picked our brains for two days, deciding if we could get that passed. And then, the March on Washington forced Congress to enact the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (As you remember, the March on Washington was in 1963, and it forced Congress to pass the act.) Before then, various bills had been presented and there were various notions on what the act ought to look like. Lyndon Johnson had an idea of something like the Community Relations Service long before he was President. And now, he was President and he was pushing for it to happen. When it was finally passed, that's Title X of the Civil Rights Act, it didn't quite look like what we had envisioned. We had envisioned it having subpoena power, cease and desist power, and mediation and conciliation, but it didn't pass Congress that way. Now, about how I got involved in the profession and all that. After the Civil Rights Act was passed, they used the Commission on Civil Rights to present a series of hearings on the Civil Rights Act to make officials aware of what was contained in the Civil Rights Act. Civil rights activists, school board members, and members of city councils in Arkansas, mayors, and these kind of people were invited to come hear what the act meant. For the opening session, they found out at the last minute, though I knew all the time, there was not a single black on the program. The guy who used to be with the Civil Rights Commission, who later went to HUD, by the name of Sam Simmons called me and said, "Ozell?" I said, "Yes?" He said, "You know that we're opening this big conference in Little Rock tomorrow?" I said, "Yes, I know." And he said, "There's not a single black in the opening session." I said, "I know that, too. I don't know what you all were thinking, but there's not a single black on the program." He said, "You've got to speak." I said, "I've got to speak? About what?" And Sam said, "I really don't give a damn. Just speak." I said, "Sam, it's unfair that you've been planning this for six weeks and you've got all of the speakers. The governors' going to be there, and he's going to speak, and the congressman's going to speak and one of the senators is speaking. Now, you call me at the last minute and tell me that I must join in, now that's not equal opportunity." He said, "Oh hell, Ozell. Number one, you know you can do it, and I know you can do it. And number two, you know if I'd have told you six weeks ago that you still would have spoken extemporaneously. Now don't tell me that, I know you can, and I want you to speak." I said, "Okay." He said, "Fifteen minutes." So I spoke. There was a guy there from CRS, it was just getting started and after I had spoken, they invited me to join the staff of CRS.

Question:
Was this Ben Holman?

Answer:
No, Ben Holman was not director at the time. See, when Ben Holman came, he came as head of media for CRS, and not director of the agency. The director of the agency, I've forgotten his name now, but I came in under Roger Wilkins. But it was not even Roger then, Roger was with the agency, but he was not director. When I was asked to join I said, "Alright, I'll take a look." And I told them that I needed a fourteen to come aboard. They didn't have a fourteen to give me, so I didn't come. Just that simple. A year later, I was called by a guy named George Cobos. George was deputy director then and in charge of the field staff, and he was in charge of recruiting and staffing up. He called and he said, "Ozell, you don't know me, I don't know you, I only know who you are, but we're trying to staff CRS and I see that you don't have an application in here, but I see where they talked with you last year about coming aboard, so I'm checking. We need people to come aboard who are already seasoned and experienced. You headed our council on Human Relations and you're just the kind of person we need to come aboard. So, how about it?" I said, "Can you give me a fourteen?" He said, "No, I can't give you a fourteen. We don't have a fourteen." I said, "Well, that is my condition." And we talked for awhile and he said, "Are you coming up to the white House conference on Civil Rights?" I said, "Yes, I'm coming up. Now I don't work for one of these agencies that's going to pay my way," I said. That's the way we were in those days, we had to pay our own way, but I did that. "I might be having donuts and coffee for breakfast, and stew for dinner, but I'll be there." He said, "Well, let's get together." He described himself to me so I would know him and I described myself to him. Sure enough, we got together and he offered the job again and I said, "You got a fourteen?" He said, "No, but I have another proposition I'd like to offer you. Would you come for a thirteen if I open you an office there in Little Rock?" I said, "Well, if I don't have to move, I'll come for a thirteen." He said, "Now you're going to travel like hell. You're not going to be working in Little Rock, but home will still be in Little Rock." And my wife's a teacher there, so she could keep on teaching. He said, "But you will leave home on Mondays and come back on Thursdays. Now can you handle that?" I said, "As long as I don't have to move, I'll come for a thirteen." So they opened an office in the area and I got the thirteen, and that's how I came to CRS. But I was assigned in New Orleans. And I was in New Orleans every Monday morning.




Ozell Sutton


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

At first I was a civil rights leader working for a lot of people in need. That I did long before I came to CRS. I was on the other side-- I lived to protest. So I know how protesters think and how they develop, and how they move forward on what it is they do. So I know the other side, I know both sides of the question very well, and I know what goes on in the minds on both sides of the question. So, it gives me a slight advantage over most folk.



Renaldo Rivera


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

While I was still [at Harvard] we got involved in the desegregation efforts. That was Boston school desegregation. I was identified as one of the university coordinators. Chuck Wooley was the master and he was at the Center for Urban Studies at the Graduate School of Education. Paul Ylsivar, may he rest in peace, was the dean of the graduate school of education at that time. He had come over from the Ford Foundation's war on poverty initiative in the 60's. So we had a wide range of things we could do with broad support from Dean Ylsivar, both with seminars and the kinds of in-place work we did. So when desegregation took place in Boston -- it was happening around the country -- I was identified to be one of the university coordinators at Antioch to work along with Roxbury and South Boston in terms of parental involvement. With the nature of what was happening with desegregation, you had both sets of communities not wishing to move their students anywhere and each set of communities believing that their students were in danger when they went to the other community. The nature of the parental involvement that I had was to work along with CRS, but was to do the things necessary to reduce the community tension and prepare the parents for what were the most effective ways to be working with their children around the situation of bussing and desegregation. I was then identified as the parental component to start working in Detroit, with New Detroit and others because Detroit was involved in a metropolitan desegregation effort. Detroit had a large disempowered parental population. Through New Detroit, I had a responsibility for working through those parental issues and conflict with the school department as well as the schools that their children were attending. We were able to orchestrate and work along and provided guidance for the parental organizations.

Question:
You were still working under the auspices of Harvard at that time?

Answer:
Some was Harvard and some got paid through different grant money that flowed through to support the desegregation efforts.

Question:
And were you working in tandem with CRS?

Answer:
Not in Detroit, but in Boston it was in tandem because the rumor control centers wound up being mutually sponsored. In Boston, it was with CRS rumor control centers that tried to hold back the violence in a number of settings, the early warning systems were developed by CRS at that time. We were contributing to that because it was a very collaborative effort just trying to keep some level of community stability during very difficult times in that city.

Question:
Moving right along, you are now in the mid '70's.

Answer:
In the mid '70's, the greater Boston area was the only place in the country to receive a metropolitan planning project grant from the federal government. I think it was the Office of Desegregation of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. They had money for metropolitan programs and it was the only metropolitan planning project that took place in the country. It dealt with 78 towns and school districts in greater Boston. The issue there was suburban backlash to school desegregation. I became the acting director for the design of learning environments -- there were several hundred thousand dollars, which in the mid 1970's was quite a bit of money -- to work along with identifying promising programs that would reduce community conflict and facilitate this urban-suburban exchange program. During the time that I was there, we actually created these things for young people as well as middle school and high school students that would permit greater exchanges. This was designed to reduce minority-group student isolation and reduce the community tension associated with supporting integration in public schools. We wound up working along with a metropolitan voluntary bussing program that took kids from the center city to different communities.From there, I was at Harvard finishing my dissertation work and it was the early evolution of the -- actually 1972 was the passage of the Ethnic Heritage Studies Act -- the movement into thinking about multi-cultural, inter-cultural, cross-cultural education and all of the conflict involved in implementing it. We were starting to think again of developing conflict resolution work and that's where my career really began to solidify. It was in dealing with intergroup conflict and what it is to be able to understand other peoples' points of view and how to build that into both educational systems and other activity. We were able to provide revenue from the state to support this kind of development. We would have cultural experts and people from the community involved in planning cultural programs that would be available in the museums as well as in the schools themselves. I worked in the Framingham public schools as a coordinator for pluralistic education and again encountered serious conflicts between the existing educational systems, school committees and communities which were rapidly changing. That was in the beginning of demographic changes before large scale immigration. The conflicts that were being created between community groups and existing Caucasian groups in suburban areas were pretty large; working through the curriculum issues and the staff development questions as well as the political questions of school committees so that students would be able to get more comfortable with each other. Bilingual education had passed in Massachusetts as well as nationally, so it was creating quite a bit of conflict and once again these kinds of techniques had to be utilized just to be able to effectively develop programs for student learning and to reduce community tension. From there I was selected, I was with the National Latino Media Coalition for a number of years as the chairman of it's board. Once again the policy orientation took us to the nature of how stereotypes are developed and maintained, so the media portrayals were a natural outgrowth of the work at that time. If somebody was stopped, the question was, "Why did the description of the suspect have to say 'Hispanic' if it really didn't fit?" If a crime was committed, it was not done for everybody, but it was for African Americans or for Latinos at that time. We went after portrayal questions and we also went into the issues of training, so that people got in the pipeline so we could deal with people on camera as well as off camera. Then new technologies were emerging because cable was just growing as an industry and we also new that satellite technology was on the horizon. So we went to work with policy and programming issues around the networks. And then with non-commercial, public broadcasting systems that developed as an alternative to regular broadcasting.

Question:
And then from there?

Answer:
There still was conflict resolution work. We had to put together the sets of consortia necessary between African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians, and Pacific Islanders because the media interests and media portrayals were affecting everybody. But at that time there were just the early groups, so we used the platform of the National Latino Media Coalition to develop consortia of all the groups of color to take a look at broadcasting issues together. Once again to deal with a rising sense of political awareness and the unfair treatment that was experienced. Also, the simple access to public information for public safety purposes that wasn't available in languages other then English. That was both in print and electronic media. We began the process of effecting the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio for inclusiveness on camera, behind the microphone, on the microphone and the types of stories and programming efforts they would make. During this time -- I'm moving from the '70's into the early ' 80's -- I was teaching at the Institute for Open Education at the Antioch Graduate Center in Massachusetts. We were interested in developing people with a social change orientation, continuing their credentialing and moving them into both schools and human service institutions as well as other public sector jobs with master's degrees. So we were working with mid-careers professionals. At Antioch, I began teaching multi culturialism in classrooms, schools and communities, and building in conflict resolution techniques as necessary. I already learned these techniques through desegregation and I'd also learned an application with the National Latino Media Coalition as to the ways in which people have to think about the ways they work with their individual schools, school systems, human service delivery systems or in whatever level of public service they were involved.In the early '80's, that school became Cambridge College. I began teaching peace making and conflict resolution and did mediation training. I built in the cross cultural issues. That continued into the early '90's. We must have developed 800 or 900 programs through national institutes where we would bring people together in the summer and train them in mediation techniques. It was from South Carolina right up through the entire Northeast, and then as far west as Chicago. These people would spend the summer with us and then they would have every other week support groups back in their home cities where we would send a faculty member to them. We put them through eight weeks of intensive work in the summer time around this specialization area and then they would have to demonstrate skills of competencies and develop a plan or a program to use back in their home communities. They would be tied to us for technical assistance work throughout the year by phone consultation and occasional site visits. What we were doing was promulgating and pushing out the idea of basic community mediation techniques in places where -- particularly the bible belt of South Carolina -- there were a lot of things that weren't about to taught or worked, and then all the other cities. By the early '90's Tufts asked me to come -- I was identified as having 25 years of leadership in public service in conflict resolution and mediation and peacemaking. I spent a year at Tufts in faculty status at the Lincoln-Filene Center in the Center for Environmental Studies that included human ecology. The purpose of the year was to permit me to work through additional models and best practices in doing this work, out of which I then created the La Pas Institute, which is dedicated to crisis management and conflict resolution work in multi-cultural contexts. In 1993 I brought it to Washington. During this time I was asked to participate in Join Together, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that was fighting the harms of substance abuse created in the cities. They had 10 "fighting back" cities throughout the country and they had the additional work to fight the harms of substance abuse which were primarily impacted in communities of color although most of the people buying the drugs were not from communities of color. They asked me to become a resource advisor for coalition building throughout the country. I worked in Atlanta, San Diego and 10 or 12 cities up and down the West coast and in Puerto Rico to create community dialogues, community sponsorships, and community exchange programs where we could work through the questions of economic disparity and different interests between neighborhood groups, political groups and bar associations so they could focus together on their common mission. We built in what the interests were. We got people to see the common interests that they had so they could then see which ways they might begin to shape common solutions to a local problem rather than go the other way which was to look at the interests that they currently held from the institutional or community settings they were in which didn't get them very far in terms of effectively impacting the problems of their communities. I did that for a couple years with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as one of the major projects with La Pas Institute.






Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I was a deputy director of a community action agency in New York City and did organizing around community-based issues including education and economics. We had some neighborhood youth core programs. This was one of your standard CAT [Community Action Training] agencies back in the old days.






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