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Patricia W. & J. Douglas Perry Library
WOMEN'S COUNCIL FOR INTERRACIAL COOPERATION
On April 17, 1945, eight black and eleven white women met in the vestry room of Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk. Mrs. W.T. Mason had invited these women in order to consider forming an interracial committee. All the women present were active in civic organizations, and came from different religious backgrounds. At that first meeting it was decided that such an interracial group could indeed be beneficial to Norfolk. Furthermore, they decided that their organization should be autonomous - not affiliated with any other organization, but working in cooperation with them. Mrs. Mason was appointed temporary chairman and the group held meetings in May, June, and September. The first two meetings were devoted to establishing a constitution and coming up with a name. By December, there were 86 members. Early in 1946, the WCIC was becoming active in the public school system, and worked with the public libraries and the Boy Scouts to notify the public of their humanitarian goals. These goals were:
The WCIC implemented these goals by calling attention to the need for more blacks in civic occupations; worked with health organizations in providing testing for diseases and public health information; held public meetings and other activities with nationally known speakers to advance the ideas of integration; and met with city officials concerning proper housing for the poor. For the first two years the group met in different churches and kept their files and printed materials in the homes of its officers and chairmen. Finally the WCIC was able to get space for an office and meetings at the YWCA. This lasted for several years. As stress in Norfolk over the desegregation of public schools reached a climax, the WCIC found itself pitted against many opponents of desegregation. It became more difficult to find meeting places open to such a group. Also, when they did find a place, they often could not advertise their meeting because of criticism and possible censure it would draw towards those who allowed such a meeting to take place at their establishment. Consequently, for a period of time, the WCIC worked more "behind the scenes" than in the public eye. However the effectiveness of the group endured and through their studies and reports of other cities with integrated school systems, the group helped Norfolk overcome the crisis in 1958 when the public high schools were shut down.
Scope and Contents
The Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation (WCIC) was an organization of white and black women devoted to fostering racial harmony. The papers, dated 1959 to 1961, include the organization's constitution, minutes of meetings, correspondence, speeches, annual reports, member lists, booklets, pamphlets, programs, invitations, newspaper clippings and published articles. Of interest is a transcribed panel report titled, "How Norfolk Opened Her Schools," dated February 2, 1959 and Susan Slaughter's personal account of the "First Fifteen Years of WCIC." Also of note is the material relating to the inception and early history of the Human Relations Council, which superseded the WCIC.
Donated to Old Dominion University in 1982 by Mrs. Hyman M. Silverman, the President of the Organization from 1955 to 1957.
Open to researchers without restrictions. Questions on literary property rights should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian.
One Hollinger Documents Case
Folder 1 Annual Reports, Constitution, Rules, Origins,