The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories
United Political Action Committee of Chester County papers
Repository: Chester County Historical Society
Collection Description (Extant): In 1966, several black civil rights workers decided to form a small organization whose purpose was to end racial discrimination in Chester County. So began the United
Political Action Committee of Chester County. The founders included Charles A. Melton, Charles H. Butler, Norman W. Bond, Robert L. Wright, Willie Stokes, James Ward, Alston B. Meade, W.T.M. Johnson, Ernest Spriggs and Charles V. Hamilton. Charles A. Melton was the first president and Dr. Johnson was the secretary. Dr. Johnson succeeded Charles A. Melton as president and it was he who maintained and later
donated UPAC's records to the Chester Country Historical Society.
UPAC worked with other local civil rights groups and activists, including noted national civil rights activist and West Chester native Bayard Rustin, the West Chester Branch of the NAACP, and the West Chester Human Relations Council in fighting against discrimination and for fair employment. They were one of the plaintiffs in the historic racial discrimination case against Lukens Steel (Goodman vs. Lukens Steel, 1973) which went to the Supreme Court in 1986, and were at the forefront of the successful 1986 legal challenge to West Chester's use of at-large elections in determining voter representation on West Chester's Borough Council. The result of this fight was the implementation of a ward system to replace at-large elections.
The records, 1958-1996, include biographical material on committee members and others associated with UPAC as well as correspondence, minutes, hand written notes, legal documents, newspaper clippings, news releases, memos, scrapbooks, programs and photographs of activities. Also in the collection are papers of Dr. W.T.M. Johnson. These include indexed compilations of his published letters as well as papers related to his time as a member of the faculty at Lincoln University. Earliest records in the collection include material related to initial reform endeavors by Dr. Johnson, the Human Relations Council and others. These included the segregation of West Chester's YMCA, Brotherhood Week Celebration, Career Conferences for Negro Youth, improving African American students' school performance, tutoring of students, etc. Records for the Student Equality Union and the West Chester Human Relations Council are also part of the collection.
In Box 2, are Dr. Johnson's records of his association with Lincoln University. The collection then continues chronologically with UPAC's organization in 1966. Records of topics with sufficient data are filed separately within their timeframe, for example, the Lukens suit (boxes 4 through 7). The collection ends with materials on the 1996 UPAC sponsored meeting on the significance of the Goodman vs. Lukens Steel civil suit.
Digital Status: No
Existing IDs: 143
Extent: 10 boxes
Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights
Civil rights movements--Pennsylvania
Discrimination in employment
United Political Action Committee of Chester County (Chester County, Pa.)