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History and Mission


Mission statement, FCLCA

The Friends Committee on Legislation of California (FCLCA), guided by Quaker values, advocates for California state laws that are just, compassionate and respectful of the inherent worth of every person.

Seventy Years of Witness at the Capitol

It began in the darkest days of the McCarthy era.  In a climate marked by the repression of civil rights,  Russ Jorgensen, an activist with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), joined with other courageous Quakers who stood up to fearmongering and put their values into practice.

They recognized the importance of having a direct impact on California lawmakers. Russ writes:

We held the founding meeting in May 1952 at the Berkeley Friends Church. We decided to start a new Friends Organization – a political counterpart of the AFSC, a state counterpart of the Friends Committee on National Legislation. In October of 1952 the office of FCL opened in the AFSC building on Sutter Street in San Francisco.

Read more.

FCLCA's original statement of purpose is still as fresh and relevant today as it was then.  See the first California Newsletter from October 1952 here.

 At the time of its founding FCLCA was one of the first “public interest” lobby groups in Sacramento. We’ve been called the longest running “cause” lobby in California.

At the beginning FCLCA often stood nearly alone in its support of unpopular causes  - in many cases “ten years ahead of its time.”  One of the great developments in the 60’s and 70’s was the growth in other public interest groups, providing FCLCA with stronger, more effective alliances. Read more in FCLCA’s 1967 report under "New Allies."

In the early years, FCLCA opposed the loyalty oath amendment to California’s constitution, universal military training (precursor to the draft) and then – as now - worked to abolish capital punishment.

Through a combination of lobbying, grassroots activism, education and respectful dialogue, FCLCA has played a key role in many issues:

  • Reform of the criminal justice system
  • Equal opportunity in jobs, housing, education
  • Civil liberties for people with AIDS
  • Rights of minorities, young people, immigrants, women and the poor
  • Juvenile justice reform
  • Militarism in schools
  • Farmworker rights and working conditions
  • Free and reduced-price lunches in schools

And during seven decades, FCLCA has built a strong reputation at the Capitol as a thoughtful voice of conscience - and that means that legislators and their staff listen when FCLCA weighs in. Bills may come and go, but the need for a voice that looks at legislation through the lens of the inherent worth and dignity of every individual will never go away. 

More History

Our first issue of the FCL Newsletter – December 1952

The First Twenty-Five years from the FCL Newsletter - December 1977

Looking Backwards – Joe Gunterman, FCLCA lobbyist, reflects on his 15 years at the Capitol

Read FCLCA’s fascinating narrative on the battle for the fair housing bill of 1963 and the efforts to maintain those gains in 1967.

Special 60th Anniversary Issue of the FCLCA Newsletter - A Retrospective: Six Decades of Advocacy