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.
Sixty-Five 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.
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.
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, women and the poor
- Juvenile Justice
- Militarism in schools
- Farmworker rights and working conditions
- Funding for human services and education
And over the six 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.
In 2017, we celebrate 65 years of advocacy. 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.
Read More History