Committee on Civil Rights in Metropolitan New York, Inc. records, 1950-1966 | Amistad Research Center
The records of the Committee on Civil Rights in Metropolitan New York measure approximately 32 linear feet, comprising administrative, restaurant, and housing records, each being inclusive of correspondence, minutes and notices, speeches, sound recordings, publications, mailing lists, and collected print items. Financial, legal, fundraising, and personnel records can be found under the Administrative series, while survey findings, summaries, research data, and methodology can be found under both the Restaurant and Housing series.
The records under the Administrative series comprise one-half of the collection while correspondence makes up one-fourth of the collection. The inception of the corporation was the direct response of the Community Affairs Committee of the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) to the 1947 findings of President Harry Truman’s Commission on Civil Rights. The ADA committee was concerned with equality and democratic practices in the United States. Particularly of interest was the headquarters of the United Nations being located in the United States and the possible discrimination and bigotry that would confront the delegates, some of whom were peoples of color and likely to be mistaken for African Americans. The initial thrust in 1950 was to identify discrimination in public facilities and accommodations, housing, and employment; but due to the immense complexities of successfully carrying out such an undertaking of this magnitude, it was decided to limit and narrow the areas of investigation.
Discriminatory practices in restaurants became the primary target of the corporation for the duration of its existence. The first chairperson of the corporation was Snowden Herrick, who served in this capacity for a brief time (1950-1951) and was followed by Mrs. Edna Merson who became the organization’s driving force until its dissolution in 1966. Leading figures who were prominent in the organization from the beginning were Kenneth B. Clark, then Assistant Professor of Psychology at City College of New York; Samuel H. Flowerman, Director of the Department of Scientific Research, American Jewish Committee; Sophia M. Robinson of the New York School of Social Work; Patricia Kendall of the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia University; and Claire Selltiz of the Research Center for Human Relations at New York University. Some cooperating organizations of note were East Harlem Council for Community Planning; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, New York chapter; the National Conference of Christians and Jews; the Urban League of Greater New York; all of whom supported the organization and its efforts until its dissolution in 1966.