“This concise institutional history presents a thorough chronicle of the major shifts and challenges that have dominated the CHRC’s development and links Cincinnati to national social and political developments. In doing so, Obermiller and Wagner also show us the way the CHRC represents a broader national institutional solution for addressing racial conflicts in urban America.”
Dennis J. Downey, California State University Channel Islands
“This full and balanced history of human relations efforts in Cincinnati during the tenure of the CHRC reveals the intriguing cooperative nature by which citizens organize to engage in civic action. Photos and multiple viewpoints round out a book that will engage practitioners, students, and the general public alike.”
Jennifer Jervis Tighe, Xavier University
In the summer of 1943, as World War II raged overseas, the United States also faced internal strife. Earlier that year, Detroit had erupted in a series of race riots that killed dozens and destroyed entire neighborhoods. Across the country, mayors and city councils sought to defuse racial tensions and promote nonviolent solutions to social and economic injustices. In Cincinnati, the result of those efforts was the Mayor’s Friendly Relations Committee, later renamed the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission (CHRC).
The Cincinnati Human Relations Commission: A History, 1943–2013, is a decade-by-decade chronicle of the agency: its accomplishments, challenges, and failures. The purpose of municipal human relations agencies like the CHRC was to give minority groups access to local government through internal advocacy, education, mediation, and persuasion—in clear contrast to the tactics of lawsuits, sit-ins, boycotts, and marches adopted by many external, nongovernmental organizations.
In compiling this history, Phillip J. Obermiller and Thomas E. Wagner have drawn on an extensive base of archival records, reports, speeches, and media sources. In addition, archival and contemporary interviews provide first-person insight into the events and personalities that shaped the agency and the history of civil rights in this midwestern city.
Phillip J. Obermiller is a senior visiting scholar in the School of Planning at the University of Cincinnati and a fellow at the University of Kentucky Appalachian Center. He is author or editor of numerous books on Appalachia and both black and white Appalachians.
Thomas E. Wagner is a university professor emeritus in the School of Planning at the University of Cincinnati. He is author of books and articles on regional history, collective bargaining, and citizen participation.
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