Studies in Midwestern History

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The devastating 1943 rioting in Detroit led to the formation of municipal human relations committees across the country, and among the oldest of these was the Cincinnati Mayor’s Friendly Relations Committee. Five years after its founding, executive director Marshall Bragdon ensured that the MFRC would continue to be a force for racial equality by hiring Virginia Coffey to be assistant director.

Virginia Coffey would go on to make important contributions to human relations internationally through her consulting work in England and nationally as a board member of the National Association of Intergroup Relations Officials. Coffey was appointed the executive director of the MFRC’s successor, the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission, in 1968. She organized the city’s human relations response to the riots that occurred after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King and developed police-community relations policies and neighborhood programs that echo to this day. After retirement Coffey continued to be a proponent of mutually respectful relations among minorities, races and ethnic groups.

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