Civil Society and Democracy

The Southern Regional Council

In 1958, the Fund began supporting the Southern Regional Council in its efforts to make the desegregation of public facilities in the South both successful and peaceful. Following the Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling on Brown v. Board of Education, the region faced enormous changes in its way of life. The Council, founded in 1919 as the Commission on Interracial Cooperation, had emerged as the region’s leading interracial organization. It was wholly Southern in membership and had influence on both sides of the racial divide.

The RBF began exploring the possibility of funding the Council’s work as early as 1948, but it was Arkansas resident and RBF trustee Winthrop Rockefeller who provided initial support for it from his personal trust. The Fund’s subsequent support was therefore earmarked for the Council’s subsidiary, the Arkansas Council on Human Relations, as well as for its Southern Leadership Program, which offered consultative services on peaceful desegregation tactics.

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