Austin Equal Citizenship Corporation Records
An Inventory of the Collection
The Austin Equal Citizenship Corporation (AECC) was chartered on July 7, 1966, and contracted with the City of Austin to investigate all sworn complaints of discrimination. The AECC was created by suggestion of the Austin Mayor Palmer after several years of discussion in City Council about utilizing a Human Relations Commission to handle civil rights issues.
The Austin City Council passed Ordinance No. 64-0512-A on May 12, 1964 to create the Human Relations Commission of the City of Austin that was to consist of seven members responsible for investigating complaints regarding human relations in the City of Austin with the intent of settling such complaints on a voluntary basis by mediation, conciliation, and persuasion. The City Council members were, however, unable to agree on who should be appointed to the Commission and how much power the Commission should have and the Commission was inactive from its creation. After the passage of the Federal Civil Rights act there was discussion about whether there was a need for a local organization to investigate discrimination as complaints could be filed with the federal courts. Members of the local N.A.A.C.P. and others periodically went before the City Council to ask that the Human Rights Commission be activated so that civil right issues could be dealt with at a local level. On May 5, 1966 the Citywide Committee of Individuals and Organization for Human Rights again spoke at a city council meeting about establishing an active Human Relations Commission with subpoena powers. After discussion Mayor Palmer's proposed plan for a private corporation that would contract with the City of Austin to handle all civil rights matters was explained. The Council adopted the corporation plan with a 5-0 vote. In June an announcement was made of the intent of the Council members to appoint as members of the Board of Directors of a private non-profit Human Relations Corporation to be organized. Those named were: Judge Virgil Lott, Richard Brown, Dr. John Barclay, Morris Shapiro, Dr. L.D. Haskew, Paul Bolton, Roy Velasquez, Janet Reed and Dr. Connie Yerwood.
The initial meeting of the private non-profit corporation was held in City Hall on June 9, 1966, where officers were elected and the corporate name Austin Equal Citizenship Corporation was chosen. After signing the contract with the City of Austin on July 7, 1966, the AECC established offices on August 1, 1966 in the Littlefield Building. The office was staffed with a bilingual (Spanish/English) speaking interviewer from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday to take complaints of discrimination. Members of the Board investigated complaints, suggestions and practices.
On October 5, 1967 the City Council once again held a hearing on an ordinance establishing a Human Relations Commission (HRC). Mayor Aiken suggested that it was time to place the responsibility for civil rights in Austin where it belonged "on the shoulders of the City Council itself and it was assumed that this would be a working, continuing relationship between the Council and the Human Relations Commission." The AECC, to allow Council to establish the Commission, suggested that the contract between the City and the AECC be terminated. The Articles of Dissolution were signed later in the same month. The ordinance (19671005-B) to establish the Human Relations Commission was passed and by the end of 1967 twenty-five Austin citizens were appointed to the Commission. Several members of the AECC were became members of the newly formed HRC.
The collection is divided into two series: Austin Equal Citizenship Corporation (AECC) and Human Relations Commission (HRC).
The Austin Equal Citizenship Corporation series (1964-1967) contains administrative history, correspondence, meeting minutes, notes and reports that document the activities of the AECC. Included are the ordinances, contract and incorporation papers that established the Corporation as well as the Resolution to Dissolve and Articles of Dissolution. The meeting minutes trace the development and progress of the AECC and contain general administrative business as well as information about the complaints that were filed with the Corporation. The correspondence highlights the organizations efforts to learn how other cities dealt with discrimination complaints and to garner support for the Corporation. Also included is the AECC's report to the Austin City Council on the first year of their activities.
The Human Relations Commission series (1959-1968) is composed principally of materials related to the City of Austin's attempt to pass a Fair Housing Ordinance in 1967 and 1968. The secretary of the AECC was appointed to the Human Relations Commission in 1967 and retained a limited amount of materials concerning the HRC with AECC files. Included are reports, legal documents, distributed information, memorandum, copies of versions of the proposed Fair Housing Ordinance as well as newspaper clippings that traced the passing of the ordinance by City Council and the subsequent (and successful) effort by citizens to force an election on the ordinance. In addition there are a few more general newspaper clippings about the Commission and single complaint report filed with the Commission.
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Donated by the secretary of the organization.
Austin Equal Citizenship Corporation Records (AR.2012.006). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/2012/009
Donation Date: 2012
Finding aid created and encoded by Molly Hults/2012.
Detailed Description of the Collection