On Monday, March 9, 1964, the Post-Tribune reported that, then, Mayor A. Martin Katz, had appointed a “Blue Ribbon” Human Relations Committee. The Committee was officially titled, “The Advisory Committee to the Mayor on Human Relations. Asked to serve were: Bishop Andrew Grutka, Orval Kincaid, F.A. Dudderar, Dale E. Belles, Clarence W. Goris, Paul F. Guist, Mrs. Jessie Mitchell, Clifford E. Minton, Mrs. Jeannette Strong, Charles E. Daugherty, F. Laurence Anderson, Jr., Randall C. Morgan, Emery L. Konrady, Rev. John E. Hunter, Mrs. Thelma Marshall, Mrs. Leigh Plummer, Dee O. Coe, Robert C. Gasser and William Braman.

Mayor Katz stated: “I am sure they will accept the responsibility in building a better Gary for all of Gary. This will not be a study commission, but it will be a group to develop positive steps to be taken in the field of human relations immediately. I will counsel with this advisory commission and implement whatever program they want followed.”

Katz said he wanted to make it clear that the group is an advisory committee and not a human relations committee.

Asked if he would recommend to the City Council a comprehensive civil rights ordinance if the advisory committee recommended it, he said, “If that’s what the committee recommends, I will see that it gets before the Council.”

On May 19, 1964, according to the Post-Tribune, “the omnibus civil rights bill was passed by the Gary City Council Tuesday night on a 5-3 vote.

The measure was passed after a four-hour meeting in the Gary City Court Chambers during which there were numerous demonstrations by white and black factions.

The chamber and overflow crowd was estimated at more than 500. The Ordinance created a 15 member human relations commission with unrestricted subpoena power as the administrative body; provided for open occupancy and incorporates existing fair employment practice laws.

The commission’s operations was financed from the FEPC budget, which comes under the commission. The budget this year was set at $39,945, which included salaries for five positions. The Director was Joseph Welcome and one secretary in his office.

Mayor A. Martin Katz issued the following statement this morning concerning the new fair housing law:

“I will call upon the citizens of Gary to exercise good judgment and good will in the days to come. There is no need to fear progress in the field of human relations. Changes in the old established order are sometimes painful, often uncomfortable, but frequently necessary. This is a necessary change to accommodate the broad progress of the concept of equality for all people.

I have every confidence that the human relations commission to be appointed will do its work constructively and effectively and with a sensitive feeling for the delicate area of its work.”

Thus began the start of the Gary Human Relations Commission. Connect with us on Facebook! We are also on Twitter and Instagram.