Virginia Council on Human Relations Exhibit

Virginia Council on Human Relations Exhibit
Colleges In Virginia
Image by Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library
Shown here is an image from the Virginia Council on Human Relations, on display in the Nancy Marshall Gallery, located just outside the Special Collections Research Center on the first floor of Swem Library at the College of William & Mary. This exhibit is part of "From Fights to Rights: The Long Road to a More Perfect Union," Swem Library’s project to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement. The exhibit is on display from October 17, 2011 through April 15, 2012.

The following are transcriptions of the label text presented in this case:


The Virginia Council on Human Relations (VCHR)
advocated for and offered assistance to businesses and employers to implement what was known as "merit employment." The Virginia Equal Job Opportunity Bureau (VEJOB) was established to assist businesses prepared to adopt personnel policies based on equal opportunity without regard to race, ethnicity, or religion. VEJOB was partially funded by a grant the VCHR received and a staff member was hired to serve as the director. However, the VEJOB folded within a short time of its organization, when further funding was not secured. The VCHR specifically appealed to those businesses competing for federal contracts impacted by Executive Orders with non-discrimination provisions and also to the overall competitiveness of Virginia business and industry.


The matter of school desegregation was a major issue for the Virginia Council on Human Relations (VCHR). The VCHR monitored actions in Prince Edward County and other Virginia localities, where county officials had closed their public schools in an effort to block school desegregation. With a multi-faceted approach of fact-finding, education, publicity, negotiation, and persuasion, the VCHR sought to further the cause of school desegregation. Ultimately, Prince Edward County public schools were closed for 5 years during the period of Massive Resistance in Virginia.

Rev. Heslip M. “Happy” Lee

Portrait of Heslip M. Lee
Courtesy of the Special Collections and Archives
James Branch Cabell Library
Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries

The Rev. Heslip M. "Happy" Lee worked during the height of the struggle for Civil Rights in the U.S. He moved to Virginia in the late 1950s and later served as an active Executive Director of the Virginia Council on Human Relations (VCHR) until 1964. He worked to
increase both the number of local VCHR groups and its overall membership, spoke to numerous groups, and helped in the desegregation of public facilities in Virginia.

Eating Establishments
Hotels and Motels
Police Forces
Biracial Commissions
All White Committee

Unless otherwise indicated, all material is from the Virginia Council of Human Relations Records, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library.

From the Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William and Mary. See for further information and assistance

Comments are closed.