The Tennessee Council on Human Relations (TCHR) was one of twelve state Councils on Human Relations established by the Southern Regional Council of Atlanta, Georgia. The TCHR was chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1954 as a nonpolitical, nondenominational, interracial organization. Its goal was to help improve human relations in Tennessee during the 1950s and 1960s. For this purpose the TCHR gathered information about racial problems and discussed solutions with those concerned. Employing educational methods, the TCHR worked to improve economic, civic, and racial conditions. As an incorporated nonprofit organization, the TCHR derived its financial support from membership dues, contributions, and grants from the Fund for the Republic and the Field Foundation.
The TCHR advocated the formation of biracial committees to build community understanding and provide leadership for the solution of local problems. TCHR members operated on the assumption that once a community is aware of its human relations problems and their causes, it will attempt to find solutions. Compiling information and statistics from fact-finding surveys conducted by local chapters, the TCHR identified human relations problems and made recommendations to local, state, and federal government officials. The TCHR concluded that “action” was the most effective route for communities to challenge human and race relations problems. Therefore, the TCHR supported various programs designed to improve equal opportunity in education, housing, health facilities, public accommodations, employment, welfare, and voter registration. The council ceased to function during the 1960s.
Kimberly E. Nichols
The Theater Owners Booking Association (TOBA), a booking organization for black performers, was founded sometime after 1920 and went into eclipse by the end of the decade. Over thirty theater owners, none from the black metropolises of New York and Washington, united to form this circuit. One of the main investors was Sherman Houston Dudley (1872-1940), who began his career in a medicine show and later helped form the Colored Actors Union. TOBA's members sold shares of stock at $100 each, at a three-share minimum. At its peak the TOBA brought to more than eighty theaters in the South and Midwest various forms of entertainment, including blues, jazz, gospel, musicals, and vaudeville. The organization was known for its tight contracts, small salaries, and the bad performing conditions it offered. Thus, black performers sometimes translated the acronym TOBA as “Tough on Black Actors, ” or “Tough on Black Asses.” Most performers had seasonal contracts, and only head-liners like blues singers Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey secured work twelve months out of the year.
TOBA was also called the “Chitlin Circuit” because some of its artists performed in blackface, and critics accused the organization of enhancing racial stereotypes. Apart from presenting female blues stars, as well as jazz