IV. A CLIMATE OF CHANGE
The past few years have evidenced a time of change in many policies designed for dealing on many levels with the problems facing racial (and other) minorities in Iowa and across the nation. This chapter is a brief summation of some of the more significant constructive developments in the struggle to achieve equality. It is by no means an exhaustive listing of the many worthwhile efforts being made by agencies, organizations, and concerned individuals in our state. The Commission salutes these efforts and charges the principals involved with doing even better in the months and years to come.
Personal Visits to Slum Areas: During the summer of 1967, Governor Hughes made several unannounced personal visits to Negro slum areas in major cities across the state. In his straightforward style of calling things as he sees them, Hughes immediately afterwards called public attention to the general plight and concerns of minorities. At various times thereafter, he specifically called on the Iowa State Employment Service, private industry, and city officials to cope productively with various problems within the minority community. The positive results of these efforts may be attested to in the discussion below of community improvement projects and the Cities' Task Force for Community Relations.
Executive Order No. 9: Setting a tone of positive action in assuring nondiscrimination in state employment and other phases of state business, Governor Hughes issued Executive Order No. 9 in October of 1967. In it he declared that the official state policy is equal opportunity in such matters as employment recruiting, employment referrals, educational and vocational guidance programs (including counseling and testing), contract letting, and licensing regulations. He called on state agencies to report to him annually regarding their specific efforts to implement the order. Moreover, he directed them to cooperate with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission in its programs to combat discrimination.
The General Assembly
Passage of the Fair Housing Law: A key legislative contribution to equal opportunity was the fair housing law which was passed in 1967. That law, which is spelled out in detail in the foregoing chapter on Compliance, adds housing discrimination to the Commission's jurisdiction.
Commission Authority to Receive Gifts: Another amendment in 1967 to the Iowa Civil Rights Act specifically granted authority to the Commission to receive and expend voluntary contributions and any grants awarded for furthering the purposes of the Act.
Commission Budget Increased: Moreover, the General Assembly almost tripled the Commission's annual budget, raising it from $31,900 to $85,000. The higher budget has made it possible to add a much-needed research-and-education specialist and two additional investigators to the Commission staff
Employment Service: The past year or so has evidenced a major shift in the Iowa State Employment Service's sensitivity toward employment problems of minorities. For example, a state supervisor of services to minority groups was appointed early in 1966 to advise the Employment Service's administration and staff on civil rights matters and to investigate any possible discrimination in matters involving the Employment Service. Extensive attention has been given by this supervisor to in-service training to enable Employment Service administrators and staff members to recognize and to deal constructively with discrimination and intercultural tension. In this connection, a civil rights handbook was recently prepared by the minority-group specialist as a comprehensive guideline for use in the field in dealing with problems of discriminatory job orders and illegal employment practices.
The Employment Service has cooperated with the Commission in referring to it allegedly discriminatory job orders placed with the local Employment Service interviewers. Moreover, three local Employment Service offices have assigned interviewers on a full-time basis as minority job developers in geographical areas of high concentrations of Negroes or Indians. (The Des Moines and Marshalltown offices each has one such interviewer, while the Sioux City office has two). Consequently, the Employment Service's record in non-white employment placements has increased markedly over the past few months. For example, a total of 617 non-whites was placed in October of 1967!
Manpower Development Council: The Iowa State Manpower Development Council, a federally-funded three-year project operating as a coordinating agency in all phases of manpower resources in the state, has continually employed at least one professional assigned specifically to minority employment problems. The Council, as a whole, also has undertaken a number of innovative programs which have generally benefited racial minorities.
A partial listing of Manpower projects include administration of the Governor's Dropout Program (involving an on-going comprehensive attempt to get high school dropouts back into school, into job-training, into vocational schools, or into a meaningful job); coordination of the Governor's Guest Project (involving an attempt to acquaint disadvantaged youths from Des Moines and Waterloo with state governmental processes and officials); administration of Community Improvement, Inc. (a private industry-financed summer employment project for youth); and administration of a federal contract for on-the-job training (which placed several non-whites in jobs and job training opportunities in Des Moines).
The Manpower Council also has taken an activist role in the apprenticeship field, having sponsored an equal opportunity, non- union pre-apprenticeship school for bricklayers. The Council also has devised a number of creative ways of disseminating apprenticeship and general manpower information, including maintenance of a mobile manpower information center and publication of a resource book, "Opportunities in Apprenticeship and Skilled Trades in Iowa."
Real Estate Commission: The Iowa Real Estate Commission has taken two concrete steps to aid in the monumental task of making the new fair housing law workable and effective. First, that Commission included in its 1967 annual mailing of real estate license applications and renewals a flier (prepared by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission) explaining the provisions of the housing law and the various means for enforcing it. Moreover, the Real Estate Commission has included questions about the housing law on its most recent examination for new applicants for licenses.
Attorney General's Office: The Attorney General's office deserves mention here for its continued cooperation in providing legal counsel for the Civil Rights Commission.
Cities' Task Force for Community Relations: Prompted by Governor Hughes, the Large Cities' Group of the League of Municipalities and representatives of minority groups formed a state-wide Task Force in August of 1967 to formulate "an on-going action program for bettering human relations and furthering equality of citizenship in Iowa communities." Included in the Task Force's subsequent recommendations to municipalities for voluntary implementation on the local level were the following: stricter enforcement of existing housing codes; strong municipal fair housing ordinances; municipal human rights commissions with paid, professional staffs; in-service intergroup relations training for municipal police forces; active recruitment of Negroes for law enforcement; and increased emphasis on urban problems in University Extension programs and adult education programs. Commission Director Thomas is a member of the Task Force's subcommittee on housing.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was established by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to administer Title VII of that Act. That title prohibits employers and unions in industries affected by interstate commerce (and all employment agencies which serve them) from discriminating because of race, color, national origin, religion, and sex, except in those jobs where sex or religion is a bona fide occupational qualification. The Commission is charged with investigating complaints of discrimination in hiring, firing, promotion, wages, layoffs, use of facilities on the job, and employer or union limitation or segregation of employees according to race, color, national origin, religion, or sex. The Commission has no enforcement powers, relying on voluntary compliance through mediation and conciliation. It does, however, maintain close liaison with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance, which has authority to withhold federal funds from discriminatory companies or other concerns. Moreover, the Commission may request the Attorney General to initiate legal action against discriminatory concerns.
The EEOC maintains close working ties with the Iowa Commission, as it does with the civil rights commissions of other states. For example, the EEOC defers cases to the Iowa Commission when the alleged offense is also under the jurisdiction of Iowa law. On the other hand, the Iowa Commission refers sex discrimination cases to the EEOC. By the terms of another memorandum of understanding, the EEOC shares, upon request, information on the racial complexion of particular companies' work forces. This information is gleaned from EEO-l reports required annually by all companies with 25 or more employees or those holding federal contracts.
Office of Federal Contract Compliance: The Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCC) was formed in 1965 as a unit of the Department of Labor to enforce Executive Order 11246, which forbids discrimination in employment in federally assisted projects and in contracts and subcontracts let by the federal government. Its main weapon is the authority to withhold federal funds from any concern which maintains discriminatory employment practices.
The OFCC compliance review investigators generally contact the Commission office when they are in this area to review the employment practices of local companies. The investigators like to be briefed on the local (general and minority) employment situation, and the Commission wants to be kept up to date on official developments involving local companies holding federal contracts.
Commission on Civil Rights: The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which was initially established in 1957, obtained greater responsibilities under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Commission, as a research body with no enforcement powers, is the national clearinghouse for civil rights information. In this capacity, it collects, publishes, and disseminates information designed to promote a better understanding of constitutional and federal statutory requirements relating to civil rights. It also makes recommendations for corrective action to the President and to the Congress.
The Commission's primary focus presently is on defacto school segregation and general lack of equality of educational opportunity, especially in the northern states. The Commission recently sponsored a nationwide conference, which was attended by the Iowa Commission's research-and-education director, to focus upon the problem of racial isolation in the schools and the corresponding unequal educational opportunity.
The Commission also maintains state advisory committees in each state. The uncompensated members of these committees inform the Commission of civil rights matters in their communities and disseminate information about federal laws and programs. Iowa Civil Rights Commissioner Boles is the chairman of the Iowa advisory committee. That committee published a report in 1964, entitled "Report on Urban Renewal Programs and Their Effects on Racial Minority Group Housing in Three Iowa Cities."
Community Relations Service: The Community Relations Service, a branch of the Department of Justice, was created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to help communities and individuals resolve disputes, disagreements and difficulties arising from discriminatory practices based upon race, color, or national origin. The Service also helps communities to develop local programs geared to prevent racial crises. Although generally working quietly in the background, the Service seeks and uses the cooperation of appropriate state or local, public or private agencies.
The Service maintains a branch for liaison with state civil rights commissions, which has been most helpful in the Iowa Commission's affirmative action programming. The Service's films, posters, and pamphlets have been used, for example, in such projects as the conducting of in-service training for policemen, educators and school administrators, and state employment service personnel.
Federal Executive Council of Greater Des Moines: The Federal Executive Council of Greater Des Moines, comprised of heads of federal agencies in Des Moines, designated an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Committee in 1965. The EEO Committee is comprised of selected personnel from major operating agencies (federal, state, and local) who get together during a monthly luncheon to discuss, implement, motivate, evaluate, and, in general, strive toward improvement of attitudes, capabilities, and assistance for all employees. Commission Director Thomas is a member of this committee.
The EEO Committee's objectives for the upcoming calendar year include (a) development and sponsorship, through the Federal Executive Council, of an in-service training seminar on equal employment for departmental heads in federal agencies; (b) development of a publication demonstrating the achievements of minority individuals employed locally by federal agencies; (c) arrange for local visits by minority individuals to federal agencies to stimulate desire on their part to qualify for and apply for federal employment; and (d) provide counseling and speaker service to identify, inform, and invite individuals, especially minorities, who might be interested either in applying for positions in the federal government requiring little or no experience or in qualifying themselves further for more responsible positions.
Department of Labor: The United States Department of Labor issued a general directive in June of 1966 that the appropriate state officials must take the necessary steps to make sure that Negroes and other minority groups are made aware of job training programs undertaken with federal funds. Moreover, the directive stated that at least one-third of the trainees in federally- financed training programs must be non-white (unless it could be demonstrated that peculiar local circumstances would make such a non-white ratio reasonably impossible).
A union-sponsored, federally-financed pre-apprenticeship course on bricklaying scheduled in Des Moines in the spring of 1967 was canceled when the union refused to accept a third Negro in the class of fifteen. The union then financed its own course. A non-union course, with several Negroes enrolled, was then federally financed under the supervision of the Iowa Manpower Development Council.
Selective Service System: The Selective Service System's national headquarters reportedly issued a directive in the summer of 1967 to place qualified Negroes on local draft boards. The state director of selective service was quoted in October of 1967, to wit: "As a matter of policy, we are appointing Negroes to draft boards in Des Moines, Waterloo, Davenport, and Cedar Rapids -- and any industrial area that has any semblance of Negro population." Any appointments can only occur when there is a vacancy.
Negroes have already been appointed to a number of local boards. Moreover, a Negro has been named as the medical representative on one of the two state appeal boards, and another Negro has been named as an appeal agent for the Scott County Selective Service Board.
"Know Your Neighbor" Panel: A unique way of attempting to combat discrimination has been the efforts by the celebrated "Know Your Neighbor" panel of Iowa housewives. The panel, which began in 1960 with six members, consists of fifteen women of widely different background. Representing a broad cross section of racial, ethnic, cultural, national origin, and religious characteristics, the individual panel members share the common belief that barriers of prejudice in American society can be and must be broken down.
Five members, together with the moderator, operate as a team in public appearances. Each panel member individually tells of her personal experiences in being discriminated against and in observing discrimination against others. Then the panel as a whole discusses how discrimination can be eliminated. Most of the panel's appearances thus far have been before chambers of commerce, P.T.A.'s, educational groups, and women's organizations. Commissioners Goldman and Kruidenier are members of this group.
Negro Heritage Series: During the summer of 1967, about fifty people formed a group -- Progressive Young Negro Enterprises -dedicated to upgrading the general Negro image. An early program has included a series of eleven weekly lectures and seminars on Negro history, culture, and contributions. The series is designed to develop Negro pride and to foster better interracial relations. The lectures, which began in November of 1967, are held in the Des Moines YMCA, and are free to the public.
Big Brothers Chapter: A local chapter of Big Brothers of America was developed in Des Moines in November of 1967. The idea of the program is for the adult Big Brothers to befriend the Little Brothers, who are boys lacking a father in the home. Although this is a general program, it has particular applicability to minority children because of the tendency toward unstable family relations among minorities.
Summer Employment in Community Projects: Prompted by Governor Hughes, businessmen in Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines, Sioux City, and Waterloo financed community improvement projects in the closing weeks of the summer of 1967. Statistics on the Des Moines project follow. A total of 500 youngsters worked in such public projects as general maintenance, traffic counting, general office, and removal of Dutch Elm-diseased trees. The majority of the kids were: nonwhite, 14 to 16 years old, male, and from low-income families. The employment program is continuing on a limited basis during the school year with work available on Saturdays and after school. Moreover, the employment program has been supplemented by an educational program consisting of weekly sessions with the kids on such things as communication skills, grooming, training in job applications and job interviews, and educational and career opportunities. Commission Director Thomas is an advisor to the educational program.
Plans for Progress: Several companies in Des Moines, and elsewhere in the state, have joined Plans for Progress, a national voluntary organization of major employers pledged to promoting and implementing equal employment opportunity. Plans for Progress companies are to take the initiative among business and industry in carrying out affirmative action policies and projects to end discrimination and increase job opportunities for minorities. Some programs on a national level include: a national communications campaign designed to convince minority youth of the vital importance of getting a good education and taking advantage of increasing career opportunities in business; national and regional educational conferences stressing the importance and mechanics of equal employment opportunity; and conferences with administrators of minority colleges to explore Plans for Progress aid in strengthening those colleges, especially in the fields of vocational guidance and placement liaison.
Merit Employers Council: The Plans for Progress organization encourages the formation of voluntary employer associations or merit employment councils on the local level. One such group is the Greater Des Moines Merit Employers Council. That group recently sponsored a series of job opportunity seminars to inform minority and disadvantaged youths of the qualifications required to take advantage of the various job opportunities available in the Des Moines area. At the seminars(which were conveniently held in churches and neighborhood centers), information was presented by members of seven major industry groups regarding various job opportunities, job requirements, training programs, and employment procedures.
Insurance Company's Scholarship for Non-White: One company's particular efforts deserve mention. The American Republic Insurance Company recently announced a new college scholarship program with one of the two annual recipients to be nonwhite. The program calls for full-time, company-sponsored college education during the school terms and full-time employment with the insurance company during the summers. Recipients are not required to work for the company after graduation.
Overview: The past several months have evidenced an increasing acceptance of the Commission as a state agency concerned with human resources on a broad scale. Moreover, Commission personnel have taken an increasingly more active part in civil rights related activities in the state and across the nation. Specific examples follow:
Director's Ex Officio Memberships: The Commission Director, in his official capacity, is a member of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Commission; the Cities' Task Force for Community Relations' housing subcommittee; and the Cooperative Area Manpower Planning System. He also is a member of advisory committees to such organizations as Community Improvement, Inc.; the Federal Executive Council of Greater Des Moines; and the Iowa Crime Commission.
Participation in Conferences: Various commissioners and staff members have attended the following national or regional conferences: (a) Freedom of Residence Conference, held in Chicago in February of 1966; (b) Unions' Consultative Conference on Implementation of Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, held in Chicago in April of 1966; (c) White House Conference "To Fulfill These Rights," held in Washington D.C., in June of 1966; (d) Conference of State Human Rights Commissions, held in Estes Park, Colorado, in July of 1966; (e) Regional Manpower Conference, held in Ames in October of 1966; (f) Fair Lane Conference "Promise vs. Performance," held in Dearborn, Michigan, in May of 1967; (g) Social Security-Sponsored Equal Employment Opportunity Seminar, held in Kansas City in June of 1967; (h) EEOC Sponsored Regional Conference on Compliance Investigation, held in Kansas City in June of 1967; (1) Conference of State Human Rights Commissions, held in Toronto, Canada, in July of 1967; and (j) Race and Education Conference, held in Washington, D.C., in November of 1967.
Governor's Expedition of State Officials: The Commission Director was included in the select list of state officials who accompanied Governor Hughes on an intergovernmental mission to Washington, D.C., in October of 1967. The state officials visited individually with their federal counterparts, and participated together in general briefing sessions on problems of common administrative concern.
In conclusion, several agencies, organizations, and individuals have contributed to a positive climate in intergroup relations in Iowa during the past two and one-half years. In this connection, a number of specific efforts, projects, and programs were undertaken to alleviate discrimination, prejudice, and intergroup and intercultural tensions. That constructive efforts of this sort must continue in the future should become evident from the discussion in the next chapter of some of the many unresolved problems in intergroup relations in our state.