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Minnesota Agencies

Information on Minnesota State Agencies, Boards, Task Forces, and Commissions

Compiled by the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library

Governor's Human Rights Commission

Also known as:
Active dates:1956-1967

To stimulate educational activities to develop respect for human rights and to direct government and public attention to racial injustices that might result in serious social disorder.

The commission conducted general education programs in human relations, engaged in research, and worked closely with the State Commission against Discrimination (SCAD) in areas of concern to both groups. Moreover, it supported the efforts of private organizations, churches, and labor and business groups.

The GHRC also organized a biennial governor's conference on human rights, human relations institutes for law enforcement officers, and conferences and workshops to develop state plans to meet the commission's responsibilities. The GHRC tried to exert influence in areas untouched by other programs, in order to confront issues and problems on a statewide basis. African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, and migrant workers remained the commission's core groups of interest.


In 1956, after Minnesota had enacted a Fair Employment Practices law, the commission's name changed from the Governor's Interracial Commission to the Governor's Human Rights Commission (GHRC). The GHRC's mission was to stimulate educational activities to develop respect for human rights and to direct government and public attention to racial injustices that might result in serious social disorder. Although the GHRC was not set up by statute, it was recognized as an official state body by the Minnesota Legislature, which appropriated money for its operation and functioning.

In 1967, the state of Minnesota created the Department of Human Rights when the legislature broadened the scope of the State Commission Against Discrimination. The newly-formed department also absorbed the duties of the Governor's Human Rights Commission, the Minneapolis Mayor's Council on Human Relations, and the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women, which had been created by Executive order in 1963.


The governor appointed the commission's thirty members from diverse religious, socioeconomic, and political backgrounds. Initially they served indefinite terms; however, in 1961, their terms were changed to coincide with the governor's tenure in office.

The GHRC's chairs were the Reverend Francis J. Gilligan (1943-1955), Earl R. Larson (1955-1960), Gladys Brooks (1961-1965), the Reverend Thomas Basich (1965-1966), Katie McWatt (1967), and Raymond Plank (1967); its executive directors were Clifford Rucker (1947-1962); Calvin Watson (1962-1965), Lawrence Borom (1965-1966), and Beverly Bergman Wickstrom (1967). Throughout its existence , the GHRC retained three governor-appointed ex-officio members: a representative from the governor's office, the deputy attorney general, and the commission's executive director.


Some of the information in this record for the GHRC is from an entry titled: Governor's Interracial Commission, Minnesota in "Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations" and written by Mollie A. Spillman.

News clippings and documents. Agencies Notebook Collection, 1956-1967.
Record last updated: 12/21/2020

All information on this group from the Library’s collection of agency notebooks has been digitized. These materials are incorporated into the “documents/articles” section of the record. Please contact a librarian with any questions. The Minnesota Agencies database is a work in progress.

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