Dr. Bill Carmack: A 2014 Human Rights Award Winner
Nominated by Jay Wilkinson
Dr. William R. Carmack is the chair emeritus at the University of Oklahoma’s Communications Department and a member of the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame. He became a faculty member at OU in 1958.
In 1961, Dr. Carmack was instrumental in working with others to form the Southwest Center for Human Relations studies at OU. At the time, it was one of only seven such centers in the country.
The Center’s first focus was to expedite desegregation in the Southwestern states and soon included efforts to expand opportunities for American Indians through course work, conferences, and individual meetings and through the creation of community action groups.
Dr. Carmack’s legacy includes work for Federal District Judge Luther Bohanan, who ordered the desegregation of Oklahoma City Public Schools in the 1960’s. He also worked for Senator Fred Harris, serving as his administrative assistant in 1965.
Dr. Carmack served the Bureau of Indian Affairs during the Johnson and Nixon administrations. In 1968, he was appointed to become the first director of the National Council on Indian Opportunity. During that time, there was a major transfer of operations from the Bureau of Indian Affairs directly to tribes throughout the country.
Jay Wilkinson writes about Dr. Carmack’s support for the desegregation of the Oklahoma City Public Schools: “As a result of his input and action, Bill received many personal letters filled with hatred, hostility and profanity, not unlike what my father received when Prentice Gautt broke the athletic color code at OU.”
Wilkinson summarizes: “Bill… has many distinguished accomplishments in the important areas of civil rights activity and interpersonal relationships.”
“Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.”
(Article 26 of the UDHR)