Black Coalition records
Held at: Temple University Libraries Special Collections Research Center [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Temple University Libraries Special Collections Research Center. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The Black Coalition was formed in response to the growing concern among certain members of the Greater Philadelphia Movement that efforts to establish a meaningful dialogue between whites and blacks in Philadelphia were failing. The reason for this was attributed to the lack of communication with the so-called “gang element” in the city. Convinced of the necessity to deal with this element, a meeting was planned for Good Friday, April 12, 1968, one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King. A broad cross section of both the white and black communities were invited to this meeting, including a number of gang leaders. It was at this meeting that the Black coalition was formed, as a vehicle to maintain an ongoing dialogue between the white business community and the gang element, as well as other segments of the black community within the city.
Funds up to $1,000,000 were to be raised by the business community. Projects would be initiated by the coalition and funded through the Good Friday Group of white businessmen. There was no attempt to dictate funds and responsibility was placed squarely in the hands of the blacks. Initially, a main goal of the Black Coalition was finding employment for African-Americans, but secondary goals included improving housing, education, and health services conditions. The founders intended for the members of the Black Coalition to find worthy community projects which would then be funded by the Good Friday Group, an arm of the Greater Philadelphia Movement.
The Black Coalition was comprised of prominent black Philadelphians from all walks of life: from militant gang members to religious leaders and judges. Some of the more well-known Black Coalition leaders included Reverend Jeremiah X, the Muslim leader responsible for Muhammad Ali’s conversion to Islam; Orrin Evans, a prominent black newspaperman who was the first African-American to be hired at a white Philadelphia newspaper; Reverend Thomas Logan, a leader in the Episcopal Church; A. Leon Higginbotham, who would become the first black trustee of Yale University, a U.S. District Court Judge, and the first black member of the Federal Trade Commission, making him the first African-American to serve on a federal regulatory committee; Robert N.C. Nix, Jr., who would become the first African-American to serve as a justice on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court; among others.
The Good Friday Group, an organization of high-profile white businessmen tasked with administering the Black Coalitions $1,000,000 endowment, included Richard C. Bond, chairman of the board for Wanamaker’s department stores; R. Stewart Rauch, Jr., President of the Philadelphia Saving Fund Society; and William H. Wilcox, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Movement and an activist.
At the outset, the Black Coalition was representative of a rather broad cross-section of the black community. With the passage of time, however, dissension began within the Coalition and a power struggle began between the more moderate members of the Coalition and the militants. An incident in late 1968, involving gunplay outside the Black Coalition-funded Circle of African-American Unity, also known as the Muntu School of Culture, led to further rifts between the militant and non-militant members that affected a reorganization of the Coalition in November of the same year. However, these efforts proved fruitless as the Coalition never regained its erstwhile momentum. Allegations of misappropriation of funds arose and many of the more prominent members of the Black Coalition resigned in light of what they considered poor leadership. In addition, relations between the Black Coalition and the Good Friday Group were not always cordial. The Good Friday Group questioned the actions of Black Coalition president Stanley E. Branch, an outspoken, eccentric activist for black rights.
Despite many successful initiatives, such as the Simon Gratz High School Center for Personal Adjustment, a pre-apprenticeship training program, a garment industry training and employment program, and the Young Great Society Medical Center, operations faltered in early 1969 and in a joint decision, the Good Friday Group and the Black Coalition agreed to dissolve the latter. In April of 1969, the Black Coalition disbanded with $12,000 in overdue bills and $91,000 pledged to programs but not yet disbursed. The Good Friday Group agreed to assume this debt and complete any of the Black Coalition’s unfinished business. In late spring of 1969, the Good Friday Group then merged with the Urban Coalition, a group similarly aimed at fostering relations between the races and improving the city’s living conditions.
This collection is 3.5 feet in length. It spans a period of time from April 1968 to December 1969. The bulk of the materials cover the time during which the Black Coalition operated, from April 1968 to April 1969. The collection contains records from the Black Coalition, the Good Friday Group, and the Greater Philadelphia Movement, along with its fiduciary body, the Greater Philadelphia Foundation. All of the records, regardless of the originating organization, pertain to the operations of the Black Coalition, and includes correspondence and clerical records relating to funding the Black Coalition and its programs or projects. The collection does not include records from a financial audit undertaken in 1968.
Many of the letters found in the collection are draft copies and lack attachments mentioned in the text; correspondence is also largely one-sided. Original order has been maintained within the folders, which means that many of the documents are not in chronological order. Additionally, some of the items within the folders are cross-filed and repetitive. The material has been divided into 6 series: “Meeting minutes, background information, and clerical paperwork;” “Financial records;” “Project proposals and funded projects;” “Program brochures and reference files;” “Greater Philadelphia Movement records regarding the Good Friday Group, the Black Coalition, and the Urban Coalition;” and lastly, “Restricted,” which contains material that is restricted due to its sensitive information. Within each series, the most useful information appears first; the remainder of files are then alphabetized.
I: Meeting Minutes, Background Information, and Clerical Paperwork
II: Financial Records
III: Project Proposals and Funded Projects
IV: Program Brochures and Reference Files
V: Greater Philadelphia Movement Records Regarding the Good Friday Group, the Black Coalition, and the Urban Coalition
The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
Finding aid entered into the Archivists' Toolkit by Garrett Boos.
- Temple University Libraries Special Collections Research Center
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Sara Borden
- Finding Aid Date
- The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project. Finding aid entered into the Archivists' Toolkit by Garrett Boos.
- Access Restrictions
The majority of this collection is open for research use, however, Series VI is restricted from use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the Temple University Libraries Special Collections Research Center with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.
Series I contains clerical paperwork generated by the Black Coalition, including minutes from Black Coalition meetings; Coalition bylaws and background information; and any and all miscellaneous correspondence or paperwork not relating to finances or program funding.
Series II contains paperwork regarding financial matters generated within the Black Coalition ranging from payroll and bills to audits and inventories.
Series III contains all of the project proposals the Black Coalition received in requests for funding, both accepted and rejected. There is a file for each funded project. Additionally, correspondence and employment statistics examining the benefits of Black Coalition efforts are included.
Series IV contains files on programs to which the Black Coalition might refer interested parties. These programs include rehabilitation facilities, job-training programs, and educational opportunities.
Series V contains records produced by the Greater Philadelphia Movement and the Good Friday Group regarding the Black Coalition. Much of this series is comprised of general clerical information and paperwork, as well as some financial data. The contents detail the Greater Philadelphia Movement’s interactions with and views on the Black Coalition.
Series VI is restricted due to the sensitive demographical personal information contained in the documents.