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Guide to the Records of the Citizens for 65 1953/2003

Overview of the Collection

Citizens for 65

Title:

Records of the Citizens for 65

Dates:

1953-2003

Size:

6.00

Repository:

Northwestern University Archives

Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
URL: http://www.library.northwestern.edu/archives
Email: archives@northwestern.edu
Phone: 847-491-3354

Abstract:

The records detail many of the issues and events associated with Gregory Coffin’s superintendency of Evanston’s Community Consolidated School District 65 and the contentious 1970 School Board election that determined his tenure.

Historical Note

Originally known as Citizens for Coffin and District 65, Citizens for 65 was an Evanston and Skokie, Illinois, community organization which formed to support Gregory C. Coffin, superintendent of Community Consolidated Schools District 65, and particularly his policies related to the integration of Evanston elementary schools. (District 65 is contiguous with Evanston but also overlaps a portion of the political boundaries of Skokie, Illinois.) Coffin, appointed superintendent of District 65 in 1966, had fallen out of favor with a majority of the elected seven-member Board of the school district. At a contentious School Board meeting of June 24, 1969, the Board majority chose not to renew Coffin’s contract as superintendent, effectively terminating his position as of June, 1970. Public outcry forced the Board to back away from this position, deferring any decision concerning Coffin’s leadership of the district to a future Board as constituted by the results of the next election. With three Board members choosing not to seek reelection and because of the political alignment of the remaining four members, the upcoming election would determine whether or not the Board would hold its anti-Coffin majority. The School Board election of April 11, 1970, effectively became a referendum on Coffin’s tenure.

District 65 had committed to the desegregation of its schools formally in 1964 and hired Coffin, then Superintendent of Schools in Darien, Connecticut, in 1966 to implement a plan to meet this goal. Among his accomplishments at Darien, at that time an all-white district, was the implementation of a program to bring non-white students into Darien classrooms, to hire non-white personnel, and to develop curricular plans and materials introducing students to racial and civil rights issues. Quoted in the December, 1965 issue of School Management, Coffin stated: “There are many all-white districts in the nation. They don’t have to get involved in civil rights at all but, for the sake of their children, they should. After all, with the tremendous mobility of all our people, chances are very good that today’s students in all-white communities will be living, working and traveling in mixed communities a good part of their lives. As teachers, we had better prepare them for that experience right now.” Public contention over Coffin’s superintendency soon centered on the chosen path of integration but also on personality conflicts and bureaucratic infighting between the superintendent and some members of the District 65 School Board. Among both supporters and detractors Coffin was known for a sometimes abrasive, impolitic demeanor.

In August, 1969, the School Board published a report explaining the intent of its majority (Mrs. Robert G. Seyl, John Thomas Buck, Franklin C. Gagen, and Mrs. Nathan Zimmerman) to not renew Coffin in his post. Stated problems included Coffin’s concept of the “Superintendent-Administration-Board” relationship, a lack of trust between Coffin and the Board, and Coffin’s brusque personality. A number of specific incidents and alleged administrative failures attending his tenure supplemented these more general concerns. The minority of the Board supporting Coffin (Laurence J. Fitzsimons, Dr. Allwyn H. Gatlin, and Dr. Lawrence G. Lavengood) cited his professional stewardship of the district and asserted his ability to work usefully with the Board. Lurking behind the administrative problems and frequently admitted intractability, professional and personal failings enumerated by the Board majority, was the matter of race. The great majority of Evanston’s black population supported Coffin in his work to construct an integrated rather than merely desegregated school system. Reprising his work in Darien, Coffin endeavored to hire minority teachers and administrators, used busing to move students from the essentially all-black Foster School to white schools, implemented staff training programs and instituted reforms to purge the curriculum of racial bias. Coffin and his supporters issued their own report in February, 1970, to counter the Board’s majority, emphasizing successes in integrating the schools and marshalling a number of arguments to assert that the children of District 65 were “receiving a good education.” Despite this report and the statements of the Board minority, many of Evanston’s white residents remained unconvinced of Coffin’s abilities to lead the district.

Evanston’s polarization over Coffin received considerable attention in the local and metropolitan press and garnered as well some national attention. Supporters viewed the attempt to dump Coffin as an assault on full-scale integration of the schools. Many of Coffin’s critics asserted their own commitment to integration and discounted supporters’ charges of racial insensitivity and sometimes of outright racism. An issue tangential to the dispute involved Evanston’s District 65 Caucus, an organization which even included some non-residents of the district and whose function was the selection of candidates for election to the School Board. At the time of the Coffin controversy the caucus system had come under attack as rigid, elitist, and generally supportive of the interests of the establishment white community.

Both camps mobilized for the election which would decide the major issue. Coffin opponents coalesced under the banner of the Community Education Committee and fielded a slate of three candidates for election to the School Board: Martha K. Baumberger, Norma Eason, and Sumner G. Rahr. Citizens for 65 formed its own slate of candidates, Bennett Johnson, Robert Marks, and Betty A. Papangelis, in effort to secure control of the Board, to retain Coffin, and to erode support for the privileged status the caucus system.

The opposing slates and their backers campaigned through late winter and early spring, 1970. In an election marked by an unprecedented voter turnout, the candidates supported by the Community Education Committee won a narrow victory. The anti-Coffin majority of the School Board was reaffirmed and enlarged by one more vote to stand at 5 to 2. The newly constituted School Board removed Coffin from his job as superintendent on April 17 and retained him in a reduced capacity as educational consultant until June 30 when his contract with District 65 expired.

In many ways, including the dissemination of skills associated with campaigning, electioneering, and public relations along with the formation of new, notably multiracial coalitions to achieve common goals, the School Board election of 1970 and the work of Citizens for 65 began a transformation of Evanston politics. While Citizens for 65 and pro-Coffin forces lost the April election, many individuals associated with the campaign later came to play significant roles in Evanston political and community affairs.

Access Terms

This Collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Corporate Name

Citizens for 65

Evanston School District 65--Elections

Geographic Name

Evanston (Ill.)--Race relations--20th century

Topical Term

School integration--Illinois--Evanston

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information

Alice Kreiman, a principal member of Citizens for 65, donated these materials to the University Archives on November 22, 2004 (Accession #04-162).

Processing Information

Kevin B. Leonard; September 9, 2005.

Separated Materials

Gregory C. Coffin’s desk decoration, a carved wooden turtle on a pedestal bearing the statement, “A turtle only moves ahead by sticking his neck out!” Also separated were four Citizens for 65 campaign buttons and five campaign bumper stickers. The desk decoration and campaign buttons have been added to the University Archives’ collection of artifacts. The bumper stickers have been placed with oversize holdings, Map Case: Drawer A.

Conditions Governing Access

None.

Arrangement of Materials

The records are organized into folders by format (e.g., clippings, correspondence, etc.) or topic. Files are arranged thereafter in alphabetical order by keyword. With the exception of selected files of correspondence, items within folders are arranged chronologically. Letters written to the Board of Education (District 65) in opposition to or in support of Gregory Coffin are filed alphabetically by surname of correspondent.

Scope and Contents

The records of Citizens for 65 fill six boxes and span the period 1953-2003 with the bulk of the material dating from 1968 through 1970.

The records detail many of the issues and events associated with Gregory Coffin’s superintendency of Evanston’s Community Consolidated School District 65 and the contentious 1970 School Board election that determined his tenure. These include race relations in general, the desegregation and integration of Evanston schools, and governance of local institutions. At the municipal level the records document the conflict between traditionalists and an expanding base of political liberals over control of social and educational initiatives and organizations.

Forming the largest and most richly detailed portions of the series are:

• newspaper clippings covering Evanston educational, racial and political issues;

• correspondence, especially letters written to the School District 65 Board of Education in support of or in opposition to Gregory Coffin and his program for integrating Evanston schools;

• District 65 in-service training manuals written to prepare the faculty, staff and administrators of Evanston schools for school integration and ancillary matters;

• the contents of a Citizens for 65 office manual relating to the 1970 School Board election and providing key information on campaign strategy and tactics; and

• photographs of individuals central to the Citizens for 65 organization including its organizers, its campaign volunteers, and its slate of candidates standing for election to the School Board.

Other files within the series largely pertain to the 1970 School Board election campaign and provide significant detail on the work of Citizens for 65 leaders in their efforts to form alliances with Evanston neighborhood, social, religious and community organizations.

INVENTORY

Clippings

Box 1

Folder 8

Clippings

1968

Box 1

Folder 9

Clippings

February-June, 1969

Box 1

Folder 10

Clippings

July 2-17, 1969

Box 1

Folder 11

Clippings

July 18-31, 1969

Box 1

Folder 12

Clippings

August, 1969

Box 1

Folder 13

Clippings

September, 1969

Box 1

Folder 14

Clippings

October, 1969

Box 1

Folder 15

Clippings

November, 1969

Box 1

Folder 16

Clippings

December, 1969

Box 2

Folder 1

Clippings

January, 1970

Box 2

Folder 2

Clippings

February, 1970

Box 2

Folder 3

Clippings

March, 1970

Box 2

Folder 4

Clippings

April, 1970

Box 2

Folder 5

Clippings

May, 1970

Box 2

Folder 6

Clippings

2003

Box 2

Folder 7

Clippings

undated

Correspondence

Box 2

Folder 12

Citizens for 65

1969-1970

Box 2

Folder 13

General Correspondence and Related Material

1969-1979, n.d.

Box 2

Folder 14

Hate Mail

1969

Box 2

Folder 15

Letters to the Board of Education (District 65) in Opposition to Gregory C. Coffin,

1969

Box 2

Folder 16

Letters to the Board of Education (District 65) in Opposition to School Desegregation Plan

1966

Box 3

Folder 1

Letters to the Board of Education (District 65) in Support of Gregory C. Coffin: Surnames A-F

1969

Box 3

Folder 2

Letters to the Board of Education (District 65) in Support of Gregory C. Coffin: Surnames G-K

1969

Box 3

Folder 3

Letters to the Board of Education (District 65) in Support of Gregory C. Coffin: Surnames L-M

1969

Box 3

Folder 4

Letters to the Board of Education (District 65) in Support of Gregory C. Coffin: Surnames N-S

1969

Box 3

Folder 5

Letters to the Board of Education (District 65) in Support of Gregory C. Coffin: Surnames T-Z

1969

Box 3

Folder 6

Letters to the Board of Education (District 65) in Support of School Desegregation Plan but Opposing Attendance Area Changes

1966

Office Manual

Box 5

Folder 9

Office Manual: Black Caucus

1969-1970

Box 5

Folder 10

Office Manual: Board of Education

1969-1970

Box 5

Folder 11

Office Manual: Board of Education: Report to the Board of Education on the Superintendency of Dr. Gregory C. Coffin

1969

Box 5

Folder 12

Office Manual: Calendar

1970

Box 5

Folder 13

Office Manual: Candidates

1970

Box 5

Folder 14

Office Manual: Caucus

1968-1970

Box 5

Folder 15

Office Manual: Citizens Advisory Commission on Integration

1969

Box 5

Folder 16

Office Manual: Community Education Committee

1969-1970

Box 5

Folder 17

Office Manual: District 65

1969

Box 5

Folder 18

Office Manual: Election

1970

Box 5

Folder 19

Office Manual: Fact Sheets / Brochure

ca. 1969-1970

Box 5

Folder 20

Office Manual: Human Relations Commission: Evanston Caucus Investigation Board

1969

Box 5

Folder 21

Office Manual: Issues

1970

Box 5

Folder 22

Office Manual: Manuals (Duties and Instructions for Election Workers)

ca. 1970

Box 5

Folder 23

Office Manual: Public Relations

1969-1970

Box 6

Folder 1

Office Manual: Speeches

1969

Photographs

Box 6

Folder 8

Photographs: Proof Sheets (B.F. Stein Photography)

ca. 1969-1970

Box 6

Folder 9

Photographs: Numbers 1-16 (Hutcherson Photographic Studio)

ca. 1969-1970

Box 6

Folder 10

Photographs: Numbers 17-33 [#23 Missing] (Hutcherson Photographic Studio)

ca. 1969-1970

Box 6

Folder 11

Photographs: Numbers 34-49 (Hutcherson Photographic Studio)

ca. 1969-1970

Box 6

Folder 12

Photographs: Numbers 50-66 (Hutcherson Photographic Studio)

ca. 1969-1970

Box 6

Folder 13

Photographs: Numbers 2:1-2:15

ca. 1969-1970

Box 6

Folder 14

Photographs: Numbers 2:16-2:46

ca. 1969-1970

Box 1

Folder 1

Axtel, Keith, Associates: Survey Form

ca1969

Box 1

Folder 2

Block Worker’s Manual; Canvassing and Electoral Information

ca1969-70

Box 1

Folder 3

Campaign and Election Materials

ca1969-70

Box 1

Folder 4

Candidate Recommendations

1969-70

Box 1

Folder 5

Cartops

ca. 1970

Box 1

Folder 6

Citizens Newsletter

1970

Box 1

Folder 7

City of Evanston: Human Relations Commission

1968-70

Box 2

Folder 8

Coalition for Dignity in Education

1978-1979

Box 2

Folder 9

Coffin, Gregory C.: Biographical Material

1963-2002

Box 2

Folder 10

Community Education Committee

1969-1970, n.d.

Box 2

Folder 11

Community Organizations,

1969-1970, n.d.

Box 3

Folder 7

Council of Neighborhood Groups: You and Your Neighborhood

n.d.

Box 3

Folder 8

District 65 Board of Education

1965, 1968-1970, 1975

Box 3

Folder 9

District 65 Board of Education: Citizens’ Advisory Commission On Integration

1966

Box 3

Folder 10

District 65: In-Service Training Program: Black Power and Its Effect on Racial Interaction

ca. 1968

Box 3

Folder 11

District 65: In-Service Training Program: Common Prejudices of Negroes and Whites

ca. 1968

Box 3

Folder 12

District 65: In-Service Training Program: Discipline Standards in Integrated Schools

ca. 1968

Box 4

Folder 1

District 65: In-Service Training Program: Grouping Children in Integrated Schools

ca. 1968

Box 4

Folder 2

District 65: In-Service Training Program: Interpersonal Relations Among Students

ca. 1968

Box 4

Folder 3

District 65: In-Service Training Program: Media and Prejudice

ca. 1968

Box 4

Folder 4

District 65: In-Service Training Program: Sensitivity to Interpersonal Relationships

ca. 1968

Box 4

Folder 5

District 65: In-Service Training Program: Who’s the Goat

ca. 1968

Box 4

Folder 6

District 65: Laboratory School

1969, n.d.

Box 4

Folder 7

District 65: The Report of the Board of Education on the Superintendency of Dr. Gregory C. Coffin

1969

Box 4

Folder 8

District 65: School Outlook

1966, 1969

Box 4

Folder 9

District 65 Caucus (General Caucus of Community Consolidated School District 65): General

1965, 1967-1970, n.d.

Box 4

Folder 10

District 65 Caucus (General Caucus of Community Consolidated School District 65): Minutes

1953-1969

Box 4

Folder 11

District 65 Caucus (General Caucus of Community Consolidated School District 65): Rosters of Caucus Members and Constituent Organizations

1955-1968, n.d.

Box 4

Folder 12

Eddis, Charles W.: “Of Turtles and Establishments: The Great Evanston School Board Controversy,” Sermon, The Unitarian Church of Evanston

1970

Box 4

Folder 13

Election Literature

ca. 1970

Box 4

Folder 14

Ericsson, William G.: Breakfast

1970

Box 4

Folder 15

The Evanston Coalition: The Spokesman

1970

Box 4

Folder 16

Evanston Council of PTAs

1966, 1970

Box 4

Folder 17

Evanston Ecumenical Action Team: Task Force Tachonometer

1969-1970

Box 4

Folder 18

Evanston Meeting of Friends

1969[?]

Box 4

Folder 19

Evanston Peace and Freedom Party

ca. 1969

Box 4

Folder 20

Evanston Review

1969-1970

Box 5

Folder 1

Executive Committee: Administrative Records

ca. 1969-1970

Box 5

Folder 2

Financial

1969

Box 5

Folder 3

Gamow, Leo

1969

Box 5

Folder 4

Issues Facing School District, Summaries of

ca. 1969

Box 5

Folder 5

Joint Statements: District 65 and Gregory C. Coffin, Superintendent

1969

Box 5

Folder 6

Kreiman, Alice: Speech: League of Women Voters Community Dinner

2000

Box 5

Folder 7

Lawson, Donald

1969-1970

Box 5

Folder 8

National Municipal League

1958-1968

Box 6

Folder 2

Opposition to Integration Plans

ca. 1969

Box 6

Folder 3

Organization and Goals

ca. 1969

Box 6

Folder 4

Papangelis, Betty

1969-1970

Box 6

Folder 5

Petition to Quaife Ward, Alderman, Ward 4

1969

Box 6

Folder 6

Petition to Retain Gregory C. Coffin

ca. 1969

Box 6

Folder 7

Petitions to the Board of Education (District 65) in Support of Gregory C. Coffin

1969

Box 6

Folder 15

Press Releases

1969-1970

Box 6

Folder 16

Rights and Responsibilities, Committee on

1968-1970

Box 6

Folder 17

Statements from School Superintendents and Representatives of National Organizations

1969

Box 6

Folder 18

Statements to the District 65 Board of Education

1969-1970

Box 6

Folder 19

Steering Committee, Citizens for Coffin and District 65

1969, n.d.

Box 6

Folder 20

Steering Committee, Citizens for Coffin and District 65: Minutes

July-August, 1969

Box 6

Folder 21

Steering Committee, Citizens for Coffin and District 65: Minutes

September 1969-January, 1970

Box 6

Folder 22

The Superintendency of Gregory C. Coffin in School District 65, Evanston, Illinois

1970

Box 6

Folder 23

Supporters, Roster of

ca. 1969

Box 6

Folder 24

Turtle Talk, Volume 1, Numbers 1-4

1970

Box 6

Folder 25

United Black Employees of School District 65: An Analysis of the Report to the Board of Education on the Superintendency of Dr. Gregory C. Coffin

1970

Box 6

Folder 26

Voting Patterns

ca. 1960-1969

Box 6

Folder 27

Wilson, Jeremy, “Evanston School Integration Controversy,” Parts I and II, Evanston Rountable

2003

Box 6

Folder 28

WIND Radio Editorials

1969