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ATLANTA URBAN COALITION STEERING COMMITTEE
OCTOBER 29, 1967
During the last two decades accelerated migration from the farms, vastly
increased living standards, the automobile, and other social and economic
factors have changed our nation from rural to urban. Three-fourths of
America's 200 million citizens now live in cities.
This rapid urbanization is unparrelled in any nation in world history.
And the problems forced upon communities unprepared for this dramatic
change is likewise unmatched in the development of national populations,
For ten years or more economists, sociologists, political scientists,
and others have urged action by local, state and federal governments to
plan and implement programs to meet this changing environment.
In urban areas local governments possessed neither the fiscal nor human
resources in sufficient quanity and quality to do more than brace the dike
against the on-rushing tide.
State government turned a deaf ear.
The federal government expressed concern, established some promising
programs and formed a new Department of Housing and Urban Development
to deal with city problems. But the Congress in too many instances failed
to register the sense of urgency the urban crises demand, with an apparent
unawareness of the critical dimensions of the problem, the nation's
resources have been allocated to the race for space, agricultural supports
and defense - but little to the needs of the cities.
The result is now a tragic chapter in American history. Riots, racial
disturbances, civil disobedience in city after city throughout all parts of
the country have cast a lasting imprint of inaction and indifference,
And in each troubled area the story is the same: Poor people. Lack of job
skills. Unemployment. Unsound housing. Inadequate parks, schools.
Absense of realistic municipal services, Lack of motivation. Loss of
faith and of hope.
What can be done?
Nothing short of a total commitment of all community resources and a
reassessment of priorities by our national government can produce results
on a scale large enough to sufficiently change the direction of our
It isn't enough that we have a city government of concern and compassion
for the problems of the poor and disadvantaged. This same concern and
compassion must be felt by business and by labor, by education and by
our religious institutions and our civil rights leadership.
The necessity for cooperation and coordination of resources has been
recognized by leaders of these sectors of our environment at the national
level. As a result an Urban Coalition has been formed to seek ways to
mobilize the unused resources throughout the urban areas of the nation
and to do battle with urban blight.
The Steering Committee of the national Urban Coalition has called upon
our businessmen, our churchmen, our educators and our labor unions
to join with our mayors and public officials to develop and implement
programs which will provide jobs, decent housing, education and a better
life for those trapped in the current of the urban crises.
The Coalition met in an emergency convocation and adopted a statement
of principles of great promise, It called upon local government, business,
labor, religion and civil rights groups to create counterpart local
coalitions to support and supplement this declaration of principles.
We believe the very essence of success of the national Urban Coalition
lies in the development of strong local coalitions,
Past and present efforts in Atlanta to build a great city and to meet the
needs of urban growth have resulted directly from an unstructured
coalition of leadership in all areas of community life.
We believe our chances for continued and expanded successes can be
made possible only through mobilization and full utilization of all resources
available to us.
We, therefore, pledge ourselves to work together in an Atlanta Urban
Coalition for the betterment of our community, and urge all groups and
organizations to join us in our efforts.
We further endorse the declaration of principles of the national
Coalition and pledge to lend our talents and our labors to their
Ivan Allen, Jr.
Mayor of Atlanta
Al Bows, Vice President
Atlanta Chamber of Commerce
Robert J. Butler, President
Atlanta Labor Council
Dr. John W. Letson
Atlanta Public Schools
Dr. Harmon Moore, Executive Director
Christian Council of Metropolitan
Erwin Stevens, President
Citizens Central Advisory Council
Economic Opportunity Atlanta, Inc.
Reverend Samuel Williams
Summit Leadership Conference