By the early 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement had reached California and the San Francisco Bay Area. Led by students from the University of California, Berkeley's chapter of CORE (Congress On Racial Equality) and local black organizations in San Francisco and Oakland, the Ad Hoc Committee To End Racial Discrimination was formed. In the early 1960s, the Ad Hoc Committee carried out a series of protests throughout the Bay Area demanding an end to racism in hiring.
The demand for more minority employees in local businesses in the Bay Area was fueled by the huge increase in African Americans in California following World War II. In 1940, for example, there were only 124,000 blacks out of the state's total population of over 1.9 million. By 1950, that number had quadrupled to 462,000 out of California's total population of 10.8 million. The Bay Area received a large amount of this Second Great Migration of Southern blacks moving West, as the number of African Americans tripled in size to 75,000. By 1960, there were 83,104 blacks in the city of Oakland alone, out of a total population of 367,548. These new black migrants would be the backbone of the Bay Area civil rights movement, as they demanded equal rights and job opportunities after World War II.
In 1960, grass roots black organizations and students from U.C. Berkeley's CORE created the Ad Hoc Committee To End Racial Discrimination. Their first order of business was to pressure local Bay Area companies to hire more minority employees. At the time, few Bay Area businesses offered job opportunities to blacks. Merchants were afraid that black employees would attract black customers that would scare off whites. The Ad Hoc Committee's plan was to picket these businesses until they agreed to end their discriminatory practices.
The Ad Hoc Committee based their tactics on those of the Southern Civil Rights Movement. They planned well-coordinated non-violent protests that aimed at creating confrontation with local companies, but at the same time offered negotiations. The protests would create confrontations and bad publicity for businesses, and at the same time, the Ad Hoc Committee would offer to end their actions in return for negotiations over jobs.
Beginning in late 1963, the Committee conducted marches in Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Richmond. They picketed Mel's Drive In Dinners in Berkeley and San Francisco, San Francisco's Sheraton-Palace Hotel and automobile sellers, and Berkeley's Lucky's grocery stores successfully, gaining agreements that they would hire more blacks. In 1964, they also marched on Berkeley's downtown businesses and the Oakland Tribune newspaper building, pictured in the photo, with no results.
Despite their early success, these protests and agreements failed to solve the lack of job opportunities for Bay Area African Americans. In 1967, for example, 28 % of Berkeley's black population under 25 was unemployed. Having one or two businesses hire a few blacks was not going to meet the demand of the growing African American population. This growing frustration and continuing unemployment would later result in more explosive forms of black activism such as the Black Panther Party formed in Oakland, CA just a few years after the Ad Hoc Committee's demonstrations.
- Students analyze the development of federal civil rights and voting rights. (11.10.5)