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DUBUQUE AREA CITIZEN'S COUNCIL ON COMMUNITY RELATIONS (DACCCR)
DUBUQUE AREA CITIZEN'S COUNCIL ON COMMUNITY RELATIONS (DAACCCR). The Council (DACCCR) was an outgrowth of the first Dubuque Ecumenical Lay Conference held in 1967. In 1968 the organization included 230 individuals and 13 civic and religious groups in the city.
On May 3-4, 1968 the council sponsored the Second Lay Ecumenical Conference known specifically as the Dubuque Conference on Social Problems. Believed to be the first of its kind in Iowa, the conference focused on five problem areas outlined by Governor Harold Hughes--juvenile delinquency and crime, unemployment and underemployment, poor and inadequate housing, education and training and discrimination. (1) It was estimated that attendance would range from 250-300 people. (1)
That conference recommended that DACCCR urge the board of the DUBUQUE COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT to hire African American teachers and that DACCCR should help these new teachers find homes and become fully integrated into the community. In a letter to the president of the school board, DACCCR officials said they concurred with a recent request from the Dubuque Human Rights Commission that minority group teachers should be hired. Between the May 15th letter and May 22, one African man discussed taking a teaching position. A student at LORAS COLLEGE, the student would have the qualifications to teach English, history and possibly Latin. A meeting between the district's personnel director, superintendent, and members of the Human Relations Commission had not been held. (2)
In early August, 1968 three historians from the UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE and LORAS COLLEGE told representatives of the school district and DACCCR that students were being subjected to a "myth" in their history courses. The myth, the false impression of white superiority in world history, had been perpetuated by the exclusion of the history of other races in history courses. A solution proposed at the meeting included incorporating Afro-American history in the public and parochial schools in the fall of 1968. For those who haD completed their education a Negro History Week should be held during the coming year with a community-wide presentation of African American history through plays, panel discussions, speeches and lectures. A one-semester course would be offered in the fall at Loras.
The head of the social studies department at DUBUQUE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL pointed out that changes in the public school curriculum had already been made. He explained that all elementary school reading, language arts, social studies and spelling texts were multi-ethnic or would be in the coming year. Sixth and ninth grade world geography classes included studies of the East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika. The tenth grade world history class comprised African as well as European, Asian and American history. The 11th grade American history class included the history of black as well as white Americans. The 12th grade American problems class included two units each lasting four to six weeks on 'The Negro Views America" and "The Negro in the Community." These had been developed by the Harvard Social Studies Program. Thomas Auge of Loras questioned whether teachers would be able to separate their attitudes from what they taught. "They're the product of American history graduate schools where the approach that was prevalent paid no attention to Afri-American history." (3)
It was advertised as a program to "put Dubuque on the map." The "Volunteer Exchange" program established by DACCCR in December, 1968 was meant to those willing to contribute their services to needy individuals and organizations. In the first three days of the project more than twenty calls were received. Typical responses were housewives willing to shop for groceries for the elderly or teachers willing to provide services for at-risk students. A panel of five DACCCR members interviewed volunteers to determine the best use of their services. Volunteers were needed by organizations for mailing, typing, and various office work. Sister Shirley Marie Siepker chaired the subcommittee of the DACCCR Opportunity Committee which planned the Volunteer Exchange. (4)
Afro-American Week was sponsored by DACCCR and dozens of businesses who were part of Dubuque's Community Betterment Promotion in February, 1969. Among the highlights was a performance of the world-famous Alvin Ailey Dancers at CLARKE COLLEGE. (5) On May 9, 1969 DACCCR organized the Lay Ecumenical Conference at Union Hall at 11th and Bluff. Known locally as the "Generation Gap" bridging event, the conference was to bring together youth and adults, parents and teen-agers together for an informal discussion of ideas and problems of current life. The theme was "Separate Countries-the Generation Gap." (6) DACCCR invited the leaders of the grape boycott movement in Iowa aimed at helping Mexican-American migrant workers to address the organization in September. In November, Susan RIEDEL of the Dubuque Recreation Department spoke to DACCCR members about progress on the Young People's Cultural Center at BARN (THE). (7)
Dwight BACHMAN,Dubuque's first human rights director, in February, 1970 made highly critical remarks directed at the UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE for its new black cultural center. He considered the house offered by the university for a black cultural center to be shabby and suggested improvements to the interior of the building which was to be known as the "Praesidium." Bachman's statements led to an indefinite postponement of a meeting with DACCCR by its president Ruth NASH. Nash said the postponement was her idea saying, "Mr. Bachman's emphasis was not relevant to the aims and purposes of DAACR and did not appear to be directed toward lessening prejudice in the city." (8)
In March 1970 the Executive Board of DACCCR invited the entire Dubuque Human Relations Commission to the home of Ruth Nash and her husband Russell NASH to "get to know each other better." Reporters were asked to leave the meeting "to encourage frank discussion." DACCCR officials cited the "private nature" of the group and the fact that the meeting was taking place in a private home" as justification for asking the reporters to leave. Copies of a discrimination complaint form that could be filed with the Commission were distributed. (9)
The fourth Lay Ecumenical Council sponsored by DACCCR was held in May, 1970 with the theme, "The Face of Hate." Monthly meetings of the organization addressed specific issues. In May, 1970 Rev. Thomas RHOMBERG spoke on "Low-Cost Housing in Dubuque.
DACCCR's Community Relations Council, announced its implementation of "Phone a Friend" in June, 1970. When called, an answering service referred the problem, usually one not involving the police or fire department, to a volunteer on call. The volunteer called the person in need and attempted to find referral to the proper agency or by calling another volunteer specially trained in the particular area of need. Areas being coordinated to handle emergencies included housework cooking a meal, babysitting, shelter, or transportation. The 24-hour service also included a "listening" service where volunteers could develop empathy and the ability to be non-judgemental. Those interested in being listeners had to be professionally screened. (10)
DACCCR was also active in representing issues before federal agencies. Ruth Nash representing the organization testified at a hearing in September, 1970 concerning the proposed discontinuance of the ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD passenger train route between Chicago and Sioux City. Nash promoted the issue that train service provided inexpensive transportation for students. (11)
Hosting meals began around 1970 in the life of the organization and became monthly events. Prior to a panel discussion on "The Half-Way House Concept--An Alternative to Reform School" at FIRST CONGREGATIONAL UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST, supper for unemployed and under-employed youth was held at SAINT MARK LUTHERAN CHURCH. Prior to a 'Speak Out' session at WESTMINSTER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH a dinner was held with people asked to bring their own table service and a dish to pass. "Youth Feeds" were held at CORNERSTONE and the Terrace Pavilion at EAGLE POINT PARK. In what was described as the first interfaith conference in Dubuque (Protestants, Roman Catholics, Jews, and Orthodox Christians) on April 30th and May 1st, 1971 DACCCR used Colette Hall and Mount St. Francis.
By 1976 DACCCR had been providing free suppers for unemployed persons on the last Sunday of each month for six years with generally sixty people in attendance. Many volunteers made the program possible with some bringing food, others giving cash, and others to serve the meal and clean up. (12)
1. "Will Probe Dubuque's Problems," Telegraph-Herald, April 25, 1968, p. 1
2. "New Push for Negro Teachers," Telegraph-Herald, May 22, 1968
3. Rohner, Mark, "Move Here to Increase Study of Negro History," Telegraph-Herald, August 4, 1968, p. 5
4. Templer, John, "Volunteers Keep Telephone Ringing," Telegraph-Herald, December 19, 1968, p. 8
5. "Dubuqueland is Invited to..." Telegraph-Herald, February 9, 1969, p. 1
6. "'Gap' Talks Deadline Monday," Telegraph-Herald, May 1, 1969, p. 18
7. "Barn Progress," Telegraph-Herald, November 13, 1969, p. 7
8. "Bachman Criticism of Black Center Cancels Meeting," Telegraph-Herald, March 1, 1970, p. 9
9. "Reporters Are Barred from DACCCR Talks," Telegraph-Herald, March 4, 1970, p. 4
10. Walters, Steve, "Need Help? It's As Near as Your Phone," Telegraph Herald, June 1, 1970, p. 3
11. Babcock, Sue, "Train Travelers Protest to ICC," Telegraph-Herald, September 30, 1970, p. 13
12. Gatch, Calvin, "What is the Well-Fed American's Responsibility," Telegraph Herald, March 22, 1976, p. 1