I knew Ben Holman, he was a personal friend of mine, that's
came to CRS.
And who was Ben Holman?
Ben Holman was the director of CRS for 8 years. CRS was a project of Lyndon Johnson's.
The idea was to set up a mediation service to deal with problems that had come out of the 1964
Civil Rights Act regarding interstate commerce. They thought when the hotels and public
accommodations integrated, they were going to have a lot of lawsuits, a lot of problems. Lyndon
Johnson had been Vice President. His way was mediation, although the '64 act was really bi-
partisan. There were more Republicans voting for the act than Democrats. People don't
remember that. It was Senator Dirksen from Illinois, and the majority of the republicans voted
for it, not the democrats. You had the southern Democrats who at that time all voted against it.
But they broke the filibuster and passed the '64 act.
But what happened, basically, is that businesses in the South, with a few notable exceptions,
complied. They knew they would have to do it; it made good business sense; they did it. The
young students had gone out there and made it very clear they weren't going to put up with
anything else. These were real heroes, the people on the buses. I lived in Little Rock in 1957
just before the Governor got up on the steps of Central High School. CRS was formed in 1964
and a year later the Watts riots in Los Angeles in 1965 changed the whole ball game.
Leroy Collins was the first director. CRS was put in the Commerce Department because they
thought it would handle public accommodations, and when that didn't happen, they moved CRS
over to the Justice Department, and Collins was promoted up to Under Secretary of Commerce.
Then they brought in Roger Wilkins who was the nephew of the head of NAACP (Roy
Wilkins). He became director and he was the protegee of the Deputy Attorney General
of the United States. Then Ben Holman was hired.
I met Ben when I got out of the army in 1957. I moved into Prairie Shores in Chicago, which
was really the first high rise integrated building. Ben was a reporter for the Chicago Daily News
and we worked together in the Independent Voters of Illinois. We were both very idealistic and
we became close friends. Years later Ben became director of Community Relations Service. I
had just gone out to Seattle, and he offered me a job. So I went to work for CRS.