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Michigan Coalition for Human Rights Records

 Collection
Identifier: UR001790
The Michigan Coalition for Human Rights Records document its operations and activities between the organization’s formal inception in 1981 and 2003, with some supplemental articles and materials on human rights issues from the period of 1975-1980. Materials reflect the goal of the MCHR to encourage those in the Detroit-area to participate in events and campaigns promoting better race relations, increased civil liberties, and a greater respect for human rights abroad. Issues including capital punishment, race relations in Detroit, gay rights, children’s rights, apartheid in South Africa, US involvement in Central America, as well as the internal financial operations of the MCHR are documented.

The collection includes correspondence, board meetings minutes, staff reports, financial records, grant proposals and other related documents, newspaper clippings, newsletters and other printed materials, promotional fliers, mailings, and pamphlets, program booklets from annual dinners, speeches, educational materials, government documents, endorsements, intra-office memos, and media releases.

Important Subjects Include: Africa Apartheid Archdiocese of Detroit Capital Punishment Central America Children’s Rights Detroit, Michigan Environmentalism Freedom Tours Gay Rights Militarism Mozambique NAACP Racism United Automobile Workers

Important Names: Anthony, Wendell Bond, Julian Ernst, Conrad Fentin, Thomas Jeffrey, Mildred Kidd, David Lapsley, Fr. Michael Mahaffey, Maryann Mandela, Nelson McGehee, Bishop H. Coleman Jr. Melton, Reverend Fred Millet, Edmund Patterson, Brooks Paulsen, Fr. Casimir Rooney, Charles Savoie, Kathryn Simons, Rudy Tutu, Archbishop Desmond Watson, Joann Williams, Fred Series Description:

Series I: Administrative Documents, 1981-2000 Correspondence, financial documents, minutes of board meetings, early foundation documents, information on prominent members, grant proposals, and other records.

Series II: Events, 1981-2005 Materials related to annual dinners, Freedom Tours, lectures, film presentations, and panel discussions organized or sponsored by the MCHR. Includes fliers, correspondence, promotional items, news clippings, and other records.

Series III: State and Local Issues, 1982-2000 Materials related to urban Detroit and race relations issues, state budgets issues, and other local concerns. Includes media releases, correspondence, news clippings, and other records.

Series IV: National Issues, 1975-2000 Materials related to capital punishment, gay rights, economic concerns, and other national concerns. Includes correspondence, news clippings, media releases, and other materials.

Series V: International Issues, 1977-2000 Mostly related to South Africa and Apartheid with some material related to other African nations, the Middle East, and Central America. Materials include correspondence, printed materials, news clippings, educational materials, government documents, news letters, and media releases.

Dates

  • 1975 - 2005
  • Majority of material found within 1981 - 1995

Creator

Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Use

Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.

Extent

5 Linear Feet (5 SB)

Abstract

The Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR) was formed in Detroit in December 1980 by a group of Detroit-area religious leaders representing a broad range of Judeo- Christian and Muslim denominations. Initially organized with the goal of providing a liberal alternative to conservative Christian organizations such as The Moral Majority, the group’s primary issues included racism, militarism, gay rights, unemployment, poverty, and other socio-economic and local political topics. The organization was dedicated to improving race relations in the Detroit area andpromoting social justice and other liberal causes in the state of Michigan and nationwide as well as the promotion of human rights in Africa and other international regions.

The Michigan Coalition for Human Rights Records document its operations and activities between the organization’s formal inception in 1981 and 2003, with some supplemental articles and materials on human rights issues from the period of 1975-1980. Materials reflect the goal of the MCHR to encourage those in the Detroit-area to participate in events and campaigns promoting better race relations, increased civil liberties, and a greater respect for human rights abroad. Issues including capital punishment, race relations in Detroit, gay rights, children’s rights, apartheid in South Africa, US involvement in Central America, as well as the internal financial operations of the MCHR are documented.

History

The Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR) was formed in Detroit in December 1980 by a group of Detroit-area religious leaders representing a broad range of Judeo-Christian and Muslim denominations. Initially organized with the goal of providing a liberal alternative to conservative Christian organizations such as The Moral Majority, the group’s primary issues included racism, militarism, gay rights, unemployment, poverty, and other socio-economic and local political topics.

In 1981, the Steering Committee (later re-named the Board of Directors) began holding meetings at the Episcopalian Diocesan Center in Detroit. This committee consisted of President Bishop H. Coleman McGhee Jr., Vice President Reverend Dorothy Boroush, Treasurer Reverend James E. Wadsworth, Secretary Erwin Brown, and Executive Director Lawrence M. Ventline. In 1984, Thomas Fentin joined the organization as its first full-time director.

Among the actions undertaken by the group under Fentin’s tenure, which lasted until 1990, were a movement to abolish the death penalty and keep it from being enacted in Michigan, a boycott of the Coors Brewing Company practicing policies discriminatory to gays and lesbians, a campaign against President Ronald Reagan’s Central American policies, and a campaign preventing the confirmation of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.

One of the group’s high profile activities was the annual Freedom Tour, begun in 1989. Started with the goal of educating local youths about the civil rights movement of the 1960s, these tours took dozens of local children on bus trips through the southern United States with stops at important places in civil rights history, including Selma, Birmingham, and Atlanta. Subsequent Freedom Tours were conducted to educate about Michigan’s civil rights history and the role of Underground Railroad in the United States and Canada.

The organization was dedicated to improving race relations in the Detroit area and promoting social justice and other liberal causes in the state of Michigan and nationwide as well as the promotion of human rights in Africa and other international regions. In particular, the MCHR was heavily involved in the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa. This began in 1985 with a boycott of South American kruggerand gold coins that was expanded the next year to include all South Africa imports including lobsters and other food items. Over the course of the next several years, the group promoted several anti-Apartheid events in the Detroit-area including appearances by high-profile African dignitaries including Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Apartheid officially ended in 1994.

MCHR continues its operations today and is involved in international issues promoting peace in the Middle East and civil liberties in the United States.

Arrangement

Arranged in five series – Series 1 (Boxes 1–2), Series 2 (Box 2), Series 3 (Box 2), Series 4 (Box 3), and Series 5 (Boxes 3-5). Folders are arranged, in each series, alphabetically by subject and then chronologically by year, if applicable.

Acquisition

The Michigan Coalition for Human Rights records were first deposited at the Reuther Library on November 14, 2002 with a subsequent deposit on June 6, 2006.

Related Materials

Organization in Solidarity with Central America Records, Mildred Jeffrey Papers, Ernest L. Horne Papers

Transfers

Photographs, oversize items including awards, and other items were transferred to the Reuther Library’s Audiovisual Department.

Processing History

Finding aid written by Todd M. Butkovich on April 3, 2010.
Title
Guide to the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights Records
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Todd M. Butkovich.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA