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Guide to the Savannah A. Van Dyke Bello Papers
MS 203  
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Description
Beginning in the Civil Rights Movement during the early 1960's, Bello became politically involved and was active with local school board elections and city council meetings. In 1963, together with Charlesetta Braggs-Ford, she founded the Richmond chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) to address discriminatory practices in local housing and employment. As a representative of Richmond CORE, Bello participated in training institutes, educational leagues and programs for the purpose of helping the public become better informed on the problem of de facto segregation in the Richmond Unified School District. The Savannah A. Van Dyke Bello Papers consists of pamphlets, reports, flyers, strategy and progress reports, papers, action plans, correspondence, meeting minutes, newsletters and newspaper clippings related to Bello’s founding and involvement with the Richmond chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), as well as her extensive work involving desegregation in the Richmond Unified School District.
Background
Savannah A. Van Dyke Bello was born May 5, 1922 in Idabel, Oklahoma the daughter of farmers Richard and Rebecca Van Dyke. After graduating from high school in Lawton, Oklahoma she moved to California to work for the United States Civil Service Commission in San Francisco. There she married Albert Bello and they became the parents of three children, Stalfana, Albert, and Gwendolyn. In 1955, after recovering from tuberculosis, she decided to go to nursing school. In 1961, she became a nurse and worked at the Contra Costa County Medical Center until her retirement in 1984. In addition to work with the America Red Cross for 20 years, Bello also served as president of the Western Student Movement Richmond Tutoring Program, board member of the Progressive Education League and on the Executive Committee Board of the Ronald Dellums for Congress campaign. Beginning in the Civil Rights Movement during the early 1960's, Bello became politically involved and was active with local school board elections and city council meetings. In 1963, together with Charlesetta Braggs-Ford, she founded the Richmond chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) to address discriminatory practices in local housing and employment. Richmond CORE focused on issues related to fair employment and housing, schooling, accurate newspaper coverage, and police brutality towards African Americans and other minorities. Bello served as spokesperson for the Committees on Education, Storm Drainage, and Public Housing and was involved with working on California Fair Housing initiatives. Bello was active in sit-ins, picketing and negotiation projects with the Richmond Housing Authority and the Richmond Unified School District. As a representative of Richmond CORE, Bello participated in the 1966 Civil Rights Training Institute for the purpose of helping the public become better informed on the problem of de facto segregation in the Richmond Unified School District. Bello was invited on the basis of her activities in the Richmond Unified School District and with Richmond CORE to enroll in the Leadership Training Institute in Problems of School Desegregation offered through the University of California Extension beginning in 1966. Of the sixty-nine adult participants, 37 were teachers and 11 were community persons. The Institute workshop, which afforded the participants the opportunity for interpersonal relationships across race, class, and age lines, was held from June 23 to July 14, 1966 in Olympic Valley, CA. During her enrollment, Bello served as a committee member of the Strategy Planning Team on Grouping and Marking to advocate heterogeneous grouping throughout the Richmond Unified School District. Federally funded, the two-year Leadership Training Institute in Problems of School Desegregation program was directed by Dr. Marie Fielder, a pioneering educator and civil rights leader who was the first African-American woman with a doctorate to teach in the Bay Area and one of the first researchers to prove cultural bias in IQ tests. She was also instrumental in making Berkeley public schools the first in the nation to desegregate through two-way busing, and advised civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Whitney Young, and government and civil-rights organizations, including the U.S., Department of Education, the Black Panther Party for Defense and Justice, and the National Organization for Women. Fielder had created the two-year program to develop objectives centered on techniques, skills, and understandings necessary to solve problems incident to desegregation. Bello left her work with CORE during the National CORE Conference of 1967 held in Oakland after George Innis and other members of the Harlem NY chapter made demands for CORE to begin promoting a platform of militancy. The conference had brought together representatives from a range of political organizations: representatives of the local CORE chapters led by Wilfred Ussery, Floyd McKissick and James Farmer from the national CORE, Afro-American Association leader Donald Warden, Elijah Turner, California Assemblyman Willie Brown, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Chairman H. Rap Brown and Muhammad Ali. As members began participating with Black Power movement groups in community organizing, Richmond CORE was officially disaffiliated from the national organization at a meeting of officers and delegates to CORE’s Western Regional Conference on August 30, 1968.
Extent
.25 linear feet (1 box)
Restrictions
Permission to publish from the Savannah A. Van Dyke Bello Papers must be obtained from the African American Museum & Library at Oakland.
Availability
No access restrictions. Collection is open to the public.