The Wilson Human Relations Commission was created out of the Wilson Good Neighbor Council in 1969. It was the Council’s intense interest to seek more effective methods to solve some of Wilson’s racial problems.
The Council realized that its efforts to combat the problem were hampered for several reasons: they (the council) were only an advisory group to the mayor; there were too many built-in limitations - all of its members were volunteers; a great amount of research was needed to compile and analyze factual data before any planning could be done toward setting up short- range goals and long range goals; the number of daily decisions and complaints needing immediate handling and solving was increasing. These and other reasons led the Council to solicit support for their ideas.
William E. Fenner, Chairman of the Good Neighbor Council, with the full support of the Chamber of Commerce and concerned citizens - both black and white - spearheaded the concentrated efforts made by the Council. Reasons, facts and working examples substantiating the need for an interracial Commission that would be an official part of the city government and have a full-time director working constantly to solve the community's race-relations problems were aired to numerous civic groups.
As a result of this action, on June 12, 1969, a group of concerned citizens, along with the Good Neighbor Council, recommended to City Council that they consider the advisability of establishing a Human Relations Commission with a paid, full-time director. City Council accepted the recommendation and authorized the mayor to appoint a study committee to investigate this new proposal and report its findings to City Council.
The mayor appointed Dr. G.K. Butterfield, Sr., E.M. Barnes, Rev. W.R. Bussey, Jim Ellis and J.D. Ellis to serve on the study committee. After several meetings, they unanimously agreed that the City of Wilson could profit greatly by having a Human Relations Commission.
City Council acted swiftly on the recommendation and voted for the establishment of a Human Relations Commission for the City of Wilson . On September 11, 1969, City Council adopted Ordinance 0-17-69, making the Commission an official department of city government.
Clark Mills, Sr. served as the Commission’s first director for many years. He was succeeded by W. Oliver Melvin in 1994. From March 1996 through December 1998, Theatrice "Theo" McClammy served as director. The Rev. Maurice Barnes was hired in April 1999 and served until June 2004.