Friends of FMCS History Foundation

The history of dispute resolution, mediation and arbitration

Twenty-three African-American FMCS Mediators

(March 1951 to October 1977)

The story of African-American mediators employed by FMCS[1] covers the 30-year period between 1947 and 1977. Below are names, hiring dates, photos and bios of 23 African-Americans hired by FMCS between 1947 and 1977. 1950 was the first class of new mediators hired since the creation of FMCS in 1947. During its first 30 years, FMCS hired 338 mediators in small groups as needed. Of those, 6.80% were African-Americans.[2]

NameHire DateDuty StationEducationNotes
George H. FowlerMar-51NYCLLBResigned 12-31-58
George V. ByrnesMay-59NYCBA.NLRB – 11 years
Bill H. LattimoreOct-61Detroit
Dick D. WilliamsOct-63ChicagoBS. RD & Dept Nat. Dir.
Bill AbnerJul-64D.C. LLB Sp. Asst to Nat. Dir.
Frank AllenOct-66San FranLR Courses
Clarence WashingtonOct-66San FranLR Courses
Hal Davis, internFeb-68Philadelphia/DCBA. 2 years law school
Charlie RileyJun-68St.Louis/DC BA, MA. Tech coordinator
Jim WilliamsNov-70Baltimore
LR Courses
Larry BerryMay-71Atlanta/DetroitLR Courses
Hez BrownOct-72NYC
Com. College
Leo GantAug-73Chicago/Baltimore
Cleveland FisherOct-73LA
LR Courses
Tom WashingtonJun-74PhiladelphiaLR Courses
Julie Greer, intern* Jan-75Detroit
LR Courses
Bufford ThompsonOct-75Kansas City
James AuthurNov-76Boston
Trade School
Wesley Jennings Jan-77Baltimore/Chicago
Hubert RobinsonSep-77NYC
BS, MA Candidate
Jerry AllenSep-77San Fran
Son of Frank Allen
Fran Dunham*Sep-77Philadelphia/NJ
Cliff SuggsOct-77Buffalo
2 years in college – no degree

* woman

In the early 1980s, FMCS ended the practice of maintaining bio books on all mediators.[3] The Friends of FMCS History collection contains all existing bio books,[4] which were used in this paper.

FMCS may not have been a leader in offering African-Americans equal employment opportunity, but to be effective FMCS believed it needed to provide mediators who would be acceptable to labor and management. FMCS believed that mediators who lacked acceptability could not be effective and supportive of the FMCS mission. So the FMCS hiring decisions were strongly influenced by the racial attitudes of labor and management.[5]

A note: Bill Abner, as Special Assistant to the Director, was able to recruit four African-Americans mediators: Allen, Washington, Davis and Riley.

See my post on Abner in which he explains his experience with mediating during the 1960s in the south.[6]

[1] This paper relied on oral histories I’ve conducted, my acquaintances with all of these mediators except George Fowler, bio books reference in footnote 3, and Friends of FMCS History collection.

[2] Based on records in the Friends collection.

[3] In the early 1980s, the unofficial practice of maintaining bio books on all mediators with hire dates, bio info, work station, and photos was ended, based on a determination that they were inappropriate personnel record.

[4] In the years after 1977, only FMCS has hiring data on mediators. Unfortunately, FMCS did not provide any for this paper, which likely would have shown a more inclusive hiring practice.

[5] Certainly, the same rational has been used by employers whose employees deal directly with the public.

[6] See – post on Blog, titled: Willoughby (Bill) Abner.

Friends of FMCS History © 2021-2022 All rights reserved | Terms of Service and Privacy Policy | Site Map