'Lifting as We Climb': The American Council on Human Rights and the Quest for Civil Rights
65 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2017
Date Written: 2017
The narrative of African Americans’ quest for racial equality and social justice in the Twentieth Century is typically construed in the context of main-line civil rights organizations — e.g., NAACP, SCLC, SNCC, and the like. However, for decades, black fraternal networks had been helping to lay the groundwork for the major civil rights campaigns that culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1938 Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated created the National Non-Partisan Lobby on Civil and Democratic Rights (“NPC”), later renamed the National Non-Partisan Council on Public Affairs. It was the first full-time congressional lobby for minority group civil rights. Throughout the organization’s life, the NPC worked with a range of other organizations that sought similar ends. The NPC was dissolved in 1948. In place of the NPC, Alpha Kappa Alpha established the American Council on Human Rights (“ACHR”) with the help of Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta, and Sigma Gamma Rho sororities as well as Alpha Phi Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma, and Kappa Alpha Psi fraternities. From 1948 to 1963 the ACHR employed the collective resources of its organizations to make recommendations to the United States government concerning civil rights legislation. This piece draws from primary ACHR documents to analyze the organization’s history and works as it lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Keywords: American Council On Human Rights, Civil Rights Act of 1964, racial equality, black fraternal organizations
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