In the spring of 1953, Mayor Paul G. Goebel and the Grand Rapids City Commission appointed a Human Relations Study Committee. The committee was created to study the need for and outline a possible program for a permanent Human Relations Commission. The Study Committee submitted a report with recommendations to create the Human Relations Commission.
In April of 1955, the City Commission established a fifteen-member Human Relations Commission. Its many responsibilities included:
- Fostering mutual understanding and respect among all racial, religious and nationality groups
- Discouraging and preventing discriminatory practices among any such groups or any of its members.
In 1968, the Community Relations Commission (CRC) was created.
Responsibilities of the CRC have greatly expanded since its establishment. In 2019, the City Commission established the Human Rights Ordinance which continued the refinement and roles and responsibilities of the CRC. This Ordinance outlines the specific roles and responsibilities of the CRC as:
AUTHORITY: City Code Title IX Chapter 175, Articles 1-5, Sections 9.935-9.953
PURPOSE: A Community Relations Commission (CRC) is established to work with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), City Manager and City Commission to support and promote the Human Rights Ordinance and strengthen the relationship between the community and the City of Grand Rapids.
The duties of the CRC shall be to:
- Foster mutual understanding and respect among all people in the City, and discourage and prevent discriminatory practices toward any protected class described in Sec. 9.935 of this Ordinance.
- Upon its own initiative or at the request of the ODI, the City Manager, or the City Commission, identify issues relative to community tensions, discriminatory practices, or acts of prejudice against any protected class described in Sec. 9.935 of this Ordinance for review or possible investigation by the City.
- Conduct research projects and obtain data to ascertain the status and treatment of any protected class described in Sec. 9.935 of this Ordinance, and make reports and recommendations to the ODI. If applicable, findings and research will be forwarded from ODI to the City Manager for review and/or further action.
- Develop, or cooperate with other governmental or private entities to develop, programs and courses of community education for presentation in schools, public libraries, public museums, or other suitable venues, or develop presentations illustrating the contributions of protected classes to the culture, tradition, and progress of the City and society at large and demonstrating the deleterious effects of prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination.
- Issue publications or reports that in its judgment will tend to minimize or eliminate prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination in the City.
- Advise the ODI on opportunities of alignment for the City’s Strategic Plan efforts and when applicable, assist ODI with those opportunities and efforts.
- Cooperate with federal, state, and local agencies and departments as requested by the ODI to assist in addressing and resolving issues of discrimination.
- Recommend to the ODI, City Manager and City Commission measures to enhance harmonious and equitable relations among City residents and institutions, support and fortify the efforts of City departments and agencies to protect those described in Sec. 9.935 of this Ordinance, and advise and consult as necessary on civil rights and the violation thereof.
MEMBERSHIP: The commission has thirteen members that represent the community at large.
APPOINTMENT: Commission members are appointed by the Mayor with approval of the City Commission on the first Monday in January.
TERM: Each member’s term is for three years.
MEETINGS: The commission meets in the Commission Chambers in City Hall at 3:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month.
CITY STAFF: Patti Caudill
Diversity and Inclusion Manager