This paper focuses on the policies and actions of the Carbondale branch of the LWV. In particular, it focuses on the confusions surrounding the LWV’s engagement with African American Civil Rights. Drawing on organizational papers, internal memoranda, and regional newspaper clippings, this paper analyzes the ambiguities of the LWV’s racial politics. It finds that at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, these women doubtlessly spent a great deal of time discussing the issues. Yet it is also true that a great deal of time was dedicated to finding ways to protect the LWV’s “image.” This often translated into overlooking the unfortunate situations of African Americans. It is said in the League’s bylaws that its purpose was “to promote political responsibility through informed and active participation of citizens in government” and to “take action on governmental measures and policies in the public interest.”[1] That being said, whether or not the League of Women Voters in Carbondale made good on these promises during the Civil Rights era remains debatable.

[1] Louise M. Young, In the Public Interest: The League of Women Voters 1920-1970 (New York: Greenwood Press, 1989), 4.