The Civil Rights Mediation Oral History Project

Heidi Burgess and Guy Burgess

In 1999, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation gave Conflict Management Initiatives, Evanston, IL, in partnership with the Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder, a grant to obtain oral histories from seventeen mediators from the U.S. Community Relations Service (CRS) in order to document, and make available on the Internet, what they did and how they did it when they responded to volatile civil rights conflicts. The mediators selected for these interviews all have reputations among their peers as accomplished practitioners. They include retired mediators who were with the agency in its early years and others who are active at CRS today. They gained their experience in nine different field offices and the national headquarters in Washington, D.C. They represent the racial and gender diversity that typifies CRS. All have a vast amount of experience working with communities enmeshed in racial conflict. In interviews that ranged from three to nine hours, they described their thinking and the techniques and strategies they used in their efforts to bring parties to agreement in the most racially polarized community conflicts. Respondents were asked to be as specific as possible in describing their case work, although names and places often were omitted or fictitious names were used to protect confidentiality. The edited transcripts of these interviews are posted -- in their entirety -- on this website. While visitors may choose to read one or more of the interviews in full, there are faster ways to find material on particular topics of interest. The most efficient way probably is to look through the list of topics discussed, and click on those of interest. Users can also search for particular topics using the search button.

The Hewlett Foundation funded this pilot project to determine the feasibility and value of this technique to capture valuable data about the work of mediators. The project managers hope to obtain additional support so they can interview an even broader base of CRS mediators and add the lessons that can be drawn from their experience and expertise to this data base.

Those interviewed in this pilot project include:
  • Angel Alderette 1970 - 1986: San Francisco Office
  • Leo Cardenas 1971 - 1995: Denver Office
  • Bob Ensley 1970 - 1988: Atlanta Office
  • Nancy Ferrell 1985 - 1996: Dallas Office
  • Silke Hansen 1972 - present: Boston, Washington, and Denver Offices*
  • Ed Howden 1967 - 1986: San Francisco Office
  • Bob Hughes 1967 - 1974: Atlanta and Seattle Offices
  • Ernest Jones 1972, 1975 - present: Atlanta Office
  • Julian Klugman 1970 - 1997: San Francisco Office*
  • Efrain Martinez 1972 - 1999: Chicago and Houston Offices
  • Werner Petterson 1969 - 1973, 1975 - 1997: Chicago Office
  • Wilbur Reed 1971 - 1998: Denver Office
  • Rinaldo Rivera 1999 - present: New York Office
  • Richard Salem 1968 - 1982: Chicago Office
  • Manuel Salinas 1968 - 1988: Denver Office
  • Ozell Sutton 1966 - present: Atlanta Office
  • Stephen Thom 1987 - present: Los Angeles Office
  • Martin Walsh 1968 - 1974: Washington; 1974 - present: Boston Office
  • Wallace Warfield 1968 - 1979: New York Office*

*Also served in the headquarters office in Washington, D.C.


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