The Papers of Clarence
and of the NAACP
Washington Bureau 1942 - 1978
Tables of Contents
Prof. Denton L.
February 8, 1955
“It was undeniable that I was arrested
twice, spent two days in jail, was inconvenienced, and was
recommended for separation (from the Air Force) merely because I
wished to remain in a seat on a bus that I had paid for, a seat that
the very Constitution of the United States guarantees me. It is
evident, I hope, that one Federal law could have prevented the
aforementioned occurrences and a thousand kindred ones. I hope they
will be prevented in the future.”
The foregoing words were spoken in 1954
before the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee during
hearings on legislation to end segregation in interstate travel.
The speaker was Lieutenant Thomas Williams a 28 year old former
officer of the U.S. Air Force. He had enlisted at the age of 18, but
was dropped from the Service following his arrest in Florida because
he refused to accept segregation on an interstate bus.
Lt. Williams was such a clean cut, fine
young man that even southern members of the committee grudgingly
This year, Senators Magnuson, Case of New
Jersey, Ives, Butler, Humphrey, Lehman, and others have introduced
bills to eliminate segregation in interstate travel. Similar bills
have been introduced by Congressmen Heselton, Powell, Scott, Dawson
and other members of the House. Senator Magnuson has promised that
he will hold hearings on the Senate bills in February or March.
Congressman Heselton is working for early consideration and prompt
report on his bill and others.
The Anti-Jim Crow Travel Bills are S. 657,
(Ives-Butler), S. 908 (Magnuson, Lehman, Douglas, Humphrey, Jackson,
McNamara, Morse, Murray, Neely, Neuberger, and Pastore); H. R. 434
(Heselton), H.R. 691 (Powell), H.R. 2877 (Scott), H.R. 3252
(Heselton), and H.R. 3301 (Dollinger).
This proposed legislation is not placed at
the beginning of this report because it is more important than any
other bill. It is mentioned first out of respect for Lt. Williams.
He called the Bureau a few weeks ago to indicate his willingness to
testify if hearings were held. He was killed in the crash of a jet
aircraft during the month of January while serving with the New
Jersey National Guard.
Employment Practice proposals (S. 899 in the Senate and H.R. 690 and
others in the House) have been introduced and referred to the Labor
Committees in the Senate and House.
In the Senate, the sole uncompromising
opponent on the committee is chairman Lister Hill of Alabama. In the
House, there are many anti-FEPC committee members and the chairman
is Graham Barden (D.,N.C.). Neither Senator Hill nor Congressman
Barden will voluntarily agree to hearings on FEPC Bills.
It is hoped that Senator Lehman, who is a
member of the Labor Committee, will be made chairman of a
subcommittee to hold hearings. This could be accomplished if his
fellow committee members voted to override the chairman’s
obstruction. In the House, Congressman Powell has said that he will
seek appointment as chairman of a sub-committee to hold hearings on
a bill, but, if he is defeated in this, will work actively for a
discharge petition which requires 218 signatures.
We wish to call attention to the Omnibus
Civil Rights Bills (S. 907, H.R. 389, and H.R. 627) which have been
referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, headed by Senator Harley
Kilgore of West Virginia, and to the House Committee, headed by
Representative Emanuel Celler of New York.
Because these bills make a broad attack on
civil rights problems, Mr. J. Francis Polhaus, counsel in the
Bureau, has prepared a memorandum explaining what would be
accomplished by this proposal. Copies of his memorandum are
available at the Bureau. Congressman Celler has promised to hold
hearings in March. As yet, we have no commitment from Senator
Kilgore on when he will hold hearings.
Other civil rights bills now before Congress
include a proposal to establish a commission on civil rights, an
anti-poll tax bill, and an anti-lynching bill.
On the reverse side of civil rights, Senator
Holland of Florida is leading an effort to get S.J. Res. 29 passed
by the Senate. This resolution is a Constitutional Amendment to
outlaw the Poll Tax. We have registered our opposition to this
Introduced in the Senate and the House,
also, is a proposal to end the electoral college and establish a
system of proportional allotment of popular votes. S.J. Res. 31 in
the Senate was introduced by Senators Price Daniels of Texas, Hubert
Humphrey, and others. This proposed amendment was defeated in the 82nd
Congress through the efforts of the NAACP. Unfortunately, at that
time, very few liberal organizations supported us in this action
because many persons, including President Truman, seemed to believe
this amendment would be a useful advance in this country. We will
continue our opposition, of course.
The Bureau has sent to each member of
Congress a statement outlining our objectives in the legislative
field and asking for support.
The administrator was in Washington in
connection with matters related to revision of the Senate Rules. It
is presumed that he will discuss this subject in his report, and,
for that reason, no mention of it is made in the Washington Bureau
Federal Aid for
Several bills to provide Federal aid for
school construction are before Congress. The president has sent a
message to Congress on this subject. The director appeared before
the Senate Labor Committee to testify on S. 5 and other bills. In
our testimony, it was recommended that:
(Each state plan
requesting Federal aid shall) “certify that school facilities of the
state are open to all children without regard to race in conformity
with the requirements of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions.”
This simple request has precipitated an
attack by some of the supporters of Federal aid who say that
inclusion of it will kill the bill.
One criticism worthy of note came from Mrs.
Agnes Meyer, wife of the owner of the Washington Post and Times
Herald. Mrs. Meyer told the director over the telephone that if
inclusion of this provision resulted in the killing of the bill she
would strongly criticize the NAACP and would “personally demolish”
the director of the Bureau. She asked that her views be conveyed to
the NAACP Board, which is why they are included in the report. The
director is unable to say what Mrs. Meyer meant with reference to
him but presumes that this will become clear if and when the
After several conferences with military
officials and interested civilians, we have notified the Department
of Defense that the proposed National Reserve plan will be
discriminatory in many states because of Jim Crow policies in
National Guard units. This legislation is before a House
subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee, headed by
Representative Overton Brooks (D., La.). We have been advised that
we shall be heard on it. Meanwhile, Carter L. Burgess, assistant
secretary of Defense in Charge of Manpower and Personnel, has told
us the following about the plan:
“Young men who are
subject to military service, may volunteer for service, within
quotas to be established under the proposed law, in either the
Reserve of the Army, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard or in the National
Guard of a state. In either case, these young men will be required
to participate in a six months training program and assume a nine
and one-half year military service obligation.
“The well known
integration policy of the Department of Defense, will, of course, be
fully applicable to the six months training program. Furthermore, no
change is contemplated in the integration policy applicable to
service in the Reserves of the military services. With respect to
Reserve service with a state National Guard unit subsequent to the
six months training period, the laws and policies of the state are
We have underlined the reference to the
National Guard in order that it may be properly emphasized in the
mind of the reader.
Many newspapers have mentioned with approval
the President’s issuance of a new executive order strengthening Fair
Employment policies within the Federal Service. This order, which
was ready during the spring of 1954 but not issued, was recommended
to the White House by the Washington Bureau.
By one of the ironies that sometimes
accompany events of this kind, the new order has halted action on
several important cases being processed by Mr. Polhaus before the
Federal Fair Employment Board. However, this difficulty will be
overcome shortly, and, because of the increased statue [stature]
given to the program, we possibly will obtain better results.
On the matter of employment discrimination
in government, the Washington Bureau’s annual report contained the
following case which concerned:
“A young woman who
discovered a note in which her supervisor called her a darky and
joked about how she got the ‘run-around’ when she complained about
unfair employment practices. When she brought the note to the
attention of her superiors, she was fired for having the personal
property (i.e., the note) of another employee in her possession.”
This matter is now satisfactorily settled
because of able handling by Mr. Polhaus. An excerpt from the letter
of appreciation sent by the complainant reads as follows:
“Recently, in my
behalf, contact had to be made with the Fair Employment Officer of
the Army. This was done very ably by your representative, Mr. J.
Francis Polhaus. I had been discharged from my Civil Service job due
mainly to racial discrimination. Quietly, with determination and
know-how, he was able to see me restored to duty on January 12,
Please accept the
enclosed donation ($25.00) to help carry forward the program of a
President’s Committee on Government
In the annual report, we also mentioned that
the secretary and the director have consistently sought action by
the President’s Committee on Government Contracts on the Capital
Transit Company of Washington, D. C., as well as the Telephone
Companies in Baltimore and Washington. These companies have a long
record of denying employment to colored people who seek jobs as
<It now appears that the Capital Transit
problem will be resolved at last. The following is an excerpt from a
letter sent to us by the Committee on Government Contracts. We made
official inquiry because there had been extensive newspaper coverage
of the agreement of >
It now appears that the Capital Transit
problem will be resolved at last. We made official inquiry because
there had been extensive newspaper coverage on the agreement of
Capital Transit to hire colored operators, but we had no direct word
from the committee about whether the case was closed. The following
is an excerpt from a letter sent to us by the Committee on
will acknowledge your letter of January 19 wherein you inquired as
to the status of several complaints which your organization has
filed with the Committee.
“Our Committee has
not officially closed the Capital Transit Company matter, although
the company has informed us that they have upgraded a number of
qualified Negroes, to become platform operators. These men are
currently undergoing a process of training and have not as yet
become full-fledged operators. Our Committee intends to keep this
situation under review for a period of time. When, in the opinion of
the Committee, the matter has been satisfactorily resolved, we will,
of course, inform you thereof.
reference to Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company of Washington,
our special subcommittee is still negotiating with the company. We
have made certain progress in this case but a great deal remains to
be done and our Committee does not at present regard this matter as
being satisfactorily resolved.
against the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephony Company of Baltimore is
currently being investigated by the agency having a contract with it
and as yet we have not received the investigative report.”
The Director wishes to call the Board’s
attention to the fact that much of the work on the Transit and
Telephone Companies was and is handled by Mr. John Roosevelt, who is
a member of the Committee on Contract Compliance.
During the month of January, the Director
and Congressman Powell had a conference with Vice President Nixon to
discuss ways of strengthening and speeding up the Committee’s work.
Ten Per Cent Deal
Association of Home Builders met in Chicago this month and repeated
its “pledge” to build ten per cent of its total housing program for
Negro occupancy. This, of course, is coupled with the proviso that
“suitable sites” must be found. This Jim Crow quota arrangement has
the approval of Albert Cole, administrator of the Housing and Home
Finance Agency, who said that it should be applauded by the whole
country. It also appears that Joseph Ray, Head of HHFA’s racial
relations service approves this policy.
We have again
reminded the Attorney General that the problem of government policy
in housing is one that urgently demands attention.
South Africa Sinks
The carrier Midway of the U.S. Navy
visited Capetown, South Africa, this month. Its captain and the U.S.
Consul agreed to a South African requirement that colored personnel
(Americans of Japanese, Filipino, and African ancestry) would be
We urged the Navy
not to visit Capetown and asked for a conference with the Secretary
of Navy. He was ill but his Naval Aide said the matter would be
handled by the Acting Secretary. We then asked for a conference with
the Acting Secretary who was out but his office advised that a
telegram would be sent to us. When the telegram did not come we
traced it through the Navy Communication Center and found that it
had been sent but with a notation that it be delayed until the
following morning. By that time, of course, the Midway was in
The Navy said it
had to use Capetown for logistic reasons. However, our investigation
revealed that the Navy was on a so-called good will visit.
We then asked the
State Department to indicate what part it played in this matter
because the Navy said diplomats had “arranged for the visit.” We
also pointed out that the visit was a violation of previous Navy
policies. Scott McLeod, Administrator of the Bureau of Security and
Consular Affairs, has advised that he is investigating the matter.
A question on
this was raised at the President’s press conference, but he declined
to comment. Later, the Navy issued a statement saying that the visit
helped to promote democracy. At least two representatives of the
daily press willfully and knowingly wrote glowing stories about the
success of the Midway’s visit.
At the request of Congressman Powell, the
Library of Congress asked the Navy for a copy of the previous policy
which would have barred the Midway’s visit. At first, the Navy said
it had no record of any such policy. When the identifying numbers of
the policy statements were cited, the Navy said that part of it
(P.R. 300, Serial 3101) was a document that could not be released.
This is an incredible blunder because the Washington Bureau has a
copy of that policy statement which we will furnish to any
interested person upon request.
and Humphrey promptly joined us in protesting against the visit of
the Midway to Capetown. Senator Case of New Jersey is also
interested in the policy question we have raised. The most recent
Navy statement was sent to Senator Humphrey. It enclosed a
photostatic copy of a laudatory article of the Midway’s visit to
South Africa. This article appeared in the New York Times.
The Navy made no mention of an editorial in the Times
condemning the Midway’s visit.
A number of the
problems of our Mississippi members are being handled by the Bureau.
Dr. T. R. M. Howard
of Mound Bayou, Mississippi, was being threatened with induction
into the Army by his draft board, apparently because of his
civil rights activities. We took this matter up with the
Selective Service and have been assured that Dr. Howard will not
After clearance with
assistant special counsel, we urged Attorney General Herbert
Brownell not to recommend appointment of Gerard Brandon of
Mississippi to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Brandon is one of those leading the fight against enforcement of
the Supreme Court decision in the school cases. The press in
Mississippi had reported that he was under consideration for the
post. The Attorney General has turned this matter over to Mr.
William Rogers, Deputy Attorney General. We have also asked Mr.
Rogers to withhold endorsement of any Mississippi lawyer who is
a part of the Anti-Supreme Court conspiracy in Mississippi. This
action was taken after we received word from Mr. Carsie Hall, a
Jackson lawyer, saying that 1100 lawyers in the state had agreed
to join a concerted drive to circumvent the Court’s decision.
The director of the
bureau and Mr. Polhaus met with the head of the Farmers Home
Administration and two of his assistants on complaints that FHA
assistance is being denied persons because they have been active
on civil rights.
Walter S. Strider and Shirley O’Neal, of FHA, in Mississippi,
have publicly denied that loans were withheld because of civil
rights activity. O’Neal, who is colored, denied that he asked
whether the applicants were NAACP members.
The conference with FHA officials in Washington was not
satisfactory. They were unable to produce a direct refutation of the
charges made. The FHA officials said that to prove that loans had
not been denied because of civil rights activities of applicants it
would be necessary to reveal information on the credit status of the
complainants. The officials insisted that they could not reveal this
information without a signed authorization from the complainants. We
are requesting this authorization and will seek another conference
on the matter.
During the conference, the GHA officials stated that they had
also received an inquiry from Senator Stennis (D., Miss.) on this
Mr. Polhaus discussed
the case of Charles Evers, a former radio disc jockey, with the
Federal Communications Commission. Mr. Evers was released by
station WHOC of Philadelphia, Mississippi, because:
“Economic pressure on the owner (of
the station) in the form of curtailing the advertisements and
non-purchase of his wholesale goods, made it necessary that Mr.
Evers be released (with) regrets of the owner himself.”
Mr. Evers stated
that he did not wish to press action through FCC.
The Bureau referred to the Department of
Justice the case of Mr. Charles Patrick, who was brutally beaten by
two police officers of Birmingham, Alabama, because he had been
involved in a dispute over a parking place with the wife of one of
the officers. The dispute arose when the officer’s wife attempted to
take the parking space that Mr. Patrick was backing into. She
advised him that her husband was a policeman and would cause trouble
for Mr. Patrick. Mr. Patrick left the scene and was later arrested
and taken to jail, where he was beaten in his cell by the two
officers, one of whom was the husband of the woman involved in the
MS: NAACP II:
5/13/54, Hearings, 42. See also 12/7/53, and headnote
on Struggle to End Jim Crow Travel, Vol. III.
Mitchell noted in his prepared statement noted that, rather
than obeying the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v.
Board of Education, four states to date – Georgia,
Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina – had enacted
legislation to preserve racial segregation. 1/27/55,
Hearings, 249. Mitchell next testified before the House
Committee on Education and Labor. 5/20/55, Hearings,
????. See 6/6/55 for reference to this testimony.
February 9, 1956
On September 7, 1955, Mr. Wilkins, Executive
Secretary; Mr. Marshall, Special Counsel; the Director of the
Washington Bureau; Mrs. Hurley, Southeastern Regional Secretary; and
Mr. Evers, Field Secretary for the State of Mississippi, met with
Warren Olney III, Assistant Attorney General, to discuss some of the
problems of violence and denial of right to vote we now face in the
At the conference, it was agreed that among
other things the Department of Justice had an obligation to tell the
Congress where its existing powers need strengthening in order to
cope with crimes such as the Till
case, the shooting of the Reverend George W. Lee, and the persistent
program of denying colored people the right to vote.
As a follow up on this conference, the
Director has had meetings with the Attorney General and members of
Congress in an attempt to work out a coordinated approach to the
legislative side of this matter. The following are the results of
The Attorney General has studied bills which are now pending in the
Congress and has prepared recommendations which the Director is
advised incorporate some of the provisions in pending bills that
deal with protection against violence and protection of the right to
vote. The Department of Justice has promised that these
recommendations will reach the Congress in February.
For the record, it should be noted
that the Director of the Bureau has not seen the actual text of the
Department’s proposals and cannot, therefore, say whether they are
adequate or acceptable.
It is also noted, for the record,
that the idea of a bi-partisan Commission to investigate civil
rights violations appears to have gotten its main support from the
White House. Congressman Frelinghuysen (R., N.J.) has introduced
H.R. 8350, which is a bill to establish this type of commission.
Needless to say, there will be many who will try to use the
commission idea as an excuse for not acting on other bills.
now in the House of Representatives a bi-partisan working committee
of Congressmen which is the nucleus of a larger group that is
pledged to support a civil rights program. The working committee has
agreed that a meeting of all Congressmen who are in favor of civil
rights will be called as soon as the Justice Department’s
recommendations are sent over to the Hill. At that meeting, the
group will either support the Justice Department’s recommendations
or agree upon changes which will strengthen these recommendations,
Because hearings on Civil Rights
Bills were held during the summer of 1955 by the House Judiciary
Subcommittee No. 2, the bi-partisan group of Congressmen agreed that
further hearings in the House are unnecessary and all effort should
be concentrated on getting a bill or bills out of committee.
The Director has met several times with Chairman Emanuel Celler of
the House Judiciary Committee who is also a member of the group
working for a bi-partisan approach to civil rights. The current
legislative situation has also been discussed with Thomas J. Lane
(D., Mass.), Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee, which is
in charge of Civil Rights Bills. Mr. Lane has declined to give a
specific commitment on when his subcommittee will act on the pending
The Director has talked with Senator Harley Kilgore, Chairman of the
Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Thomas Hennings, Chairman of the
Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights, which
handles civil rights legislation, and also with other members of the
Senate on the question of whether hearings will be held promptly on
Civil Rights Bills.
The Director has advised Senator
Hennings that the Attorney General has stated that he is willing to
appear at these hearings and testify in person. As yet, there is
no commitment from the Senate Judiciary Committee or the
subcommittee on a specific time of hearings.
Some members of the Senate have
suggested that, when the Attorney General sends over his
recommendations, it will be well to have these introduced as a
bi-partisan bill. In view of the fact that no hearings have been
held in the Senate, introduction of these recommendations as a new
bill would not in itself cause any unnecessary delay, provided, of
course, the recommendations are sent to Congress during the Month of
of Anti-Violence Bill
has passed H.R. 5205, which is an NAACP supported bill to protect
servicemen against violence. This bill was sponsored by
Representative Celler of New York. Other sponsors of this bill in
the House were Congressmen Boyle of Illinois and Powell of New York.
Passage of the House Bill was arranged chiefly by Chairman Celler of
the Judiciary Committee with the help of Mr. Lane, Chairman of
subcommittee No. 2
companion bill in the Senate is S. 1089. Senator Lehman of New York,
chief sponsor of the Senate Bill, has been doing extensive and
careful work through members of his staff to obtain Senate passage
of this bill. It has been approved by the Senate Judiciary
Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights, but Chairman Hennings of that
subcommittee has not officially reported it to the full committee.
Civil Rights Conferenc
the agreements of organizations cooperating in the Leadership
Conference on Civil Rights, there will be a nation wide meeting in
Washington on March 4, 5, and 6. The Director has had the assignment
of obtaining meeting places.
conference with the Secretary of Labor [James B. Mitchell], we have
been granted use of the Interdepartmental Auditorium for Sunday
evening, March 4, and all day Tuesday, March 6. The Auditorium is
not available on March 5 during the day because of a meeting which
the Department of Labor is holding.
facilities for the meeting are at the Willard Hotel where the
Ballroom will be available for meetings all day Monday, March 5. We
have a verbal commitment that the Metropolitan Baptist Church, 1225
“R” Street, N.W., will be available for a Sunday afternoon meeting
on March 4.
has reservations for approximately 150 hotel rooms during the
conference. It is requested that anyone who desires a room should so
indicate before February 20. The reason for this request is that
three of the hotels, which are holding a small number of rooms, will
not hold them beyond February 20 without specific commitments on
has submitted to the Secretary recommendations on composition of the
delegations that come to Washington.
number of false reports on the prospect for immediate action, the
School Construction Bill, H.R. 7535, is still stalled in the House
Rules Committee. There was a rumor that the bill would be reported
out with a closed rule which would prohibit amendments on the floor.
There now seems to be no possibility that the bill will come out of
committee with a closed rule. The Rules Committee is deliberately
delaying action on the bill and, at the time this report is
written, there is no certainty on when H.R. 7535 will be
and Congressman Powell have cooperated in documenting the position
of the Executive Branches of Government on the matter of giving
Federal Funds to segregated schools. At this time, we have the
Comptroller General, the Department of Agriculture, and the
Department of Health, Education, and Welfare on record saying that
Federal funds for education will not be withheld from segregated
schools unless there is a specific Court test on the issue.
2, 1956, Congressman Powell called upon the President to state
whether he had a legal opinion from the Attorney General that the
Executive Branch had authority to withhold such funds. Mr. Powell
also asked the President to state himself, or through the Attorney
General, that funds made available by pending legislation would be
withheld from states that defy the United States Supreme Court
decision on the matter of school segregation.
time, President Eisenhower and former Governor Adlai Stevenson are
both on record in opposition to the Powell Amendment. Former
President Truman stated in Minneapolis that he supports the
of H.R. 5649, re Applications for Writs of Habeas Corpus
The House of
Representatives has passed a bill to restrict the use of Writs of
Habeas Corpus. This is highly technical legislation that has the
support of the Judicial Conference. We are continuing our opposition
to the bill now that it is in the Senate. The Director has been
advised by a key member of the Senate that U.S. Judge John Parker is
exerting a considerable amount of pressure to get this bill passed.
reports, the Bureau pointed out that we have complained to the
Federal Communications Commission about a newspaper story which
quoted Fred Beard of Station WJDX in Jackson, Mississippi, as
boasting that he had cut off a program on civil rights. According to
the story, Mr. Beard told a meeting of the White Citizens Council
that when he cut off the program he put up a sign saying “sorry
We now have
a report from FCC on this matter in which Mr. Beard insists that he
was misquoted in the newspaper and that he did not have a contract
to carry the program in question. The license to operate the station
expires on June 1. Any protests against continued operation of it by
the present owners will be heard by FCC.
Office has denied that its station at Elloree, South Carolina,
withdrew the use of a box from Mr. L. A. Blackman because of his
civil rights activities. During the investigation, the Post Office
Department said that it interviewed one of Mr. Blackman’s witnesses
who denied any knowledge of the matter. It is the Bureau’s opinion
that Mr. Blackman was denied the use of the box but, in view of the
collapse of one of his witnesses and because of other technical
details, it may be impossible to prove this.
Energy Commission has agreed to investigate complaints against its
Savannah River Works in South Carolina. It is alleged that
segregation has been introduced in organized recreation. Under AEC
regulations, segregation is forbidden at the Savannah River Works.
Anti-Civil Rights Measures
(Thurmond, South Carolina) and H.R. 8160 (Riley, South Carolina) are
identical bills which would deny tax exemption to any organization
that engages in litigation to which it is not a party.
(Matthews, Florida) would withdraw jurisdiction from all Federal
courts and agencies to hear cases involving the administration of
State educational systems.
495 (Vinson, Georgia) proposes a Constitutional amendment giving the
States “the right to manage their own internal affairs with respect
to any matter not expressly forbidden by the Constitution.”
127 (Eastland, Georgia) proposes a Constitutional amendment
prohibiting interference with “the power of any State to regulate
health, morals, education, marriage, and good order in the State.”
J. Res. 137 (Robertson, Virginia) would provide that a State could
meet its obligations under the 14th Amendment by
providing either desegregated or “separate but equal” public scho
September 6, 1957
Cliches and defeatism about civil rights
legislation bowed to determined effort and hard work in the 85th
In spite of funeral predictions that the
bill would die in the Eastland dominated Judiciary Committee, in
spite of the longest and silliest filibuster speech in the
Senate’s history, and in the face of numerous tricky
obstructions, a right to vote bill was passed on August 29,
In due time, this legislation will make
the Congress itself a more realistic reflection of the American
scene because it will guarantee that future southern delegations
in the Nation’s highest legislative body will include qualified
colored men and women.
When this legislation is enforced, there
will be no more flummery about how many bubbles there are in a
bar of soap when colored citizens seek the right to register.
After the stern restraint of a Federal injunction has been
applied, those who used force, economic restrictions, and
deception to keep the voting lists lily white will realize that
the vote must be given to all without regard to race.
We who assisted at the birth of this
legislation and have worked without many of the tools that we
needed for success understand that we now have a new weapon
against jim crow. We shall see to it that the race issue is
blasted from southern politics.
This legislation started out as a four
part bill. Each part was designed to perform an important task
in the civil rights field.
Part I establishes a commission to get
the facts and pave the way for additional Federal legislation.
Part II removes the civil rights
function from the broom closet in the U.S. Department of Justice
and makes it a vital division headed by an assistant attorney
Part IV of the bill gives new protection
to the right to vote in time for the Congressional elections of
All of these are now safely through the
One of the parts of the bill, which in
the opinion of the director is no more or less vital than Part
IV, did not get through in this session.
of Part III
Getting some of the friends of civil
rights to see the importance of Part III was one of the
difficult jobs confronting the bureau when this bill was
introduced in the 84th Congress.
Representative Kenneth Keating (R.,
N.Y.) issued a press release dated September 4, 1957, in which
he said of the school crisis at Little Rock, Arkansas.
“The Governor’s action in this
case, if it proves unjustified, will point up the necessity for
further legislation to protect the Constitutional rights of our
citizens . . . Part III . . . would have fulfilled that need by
enabling the Federal Government to act in the first instance on
behalf of citizens . . . Had the Attorney General been
authorized to act from the beginning in the situation in
Arkansas, all of this trouble could have been avoided.”
When we were enlisting support for the
civil rights bill, there were so many people who professed not
to see the advantages of Part III that on April 16, 1957, J.
Francis Pohlhaus, Washington Bureau Counsel, expanded previous
memoranda he had written on this subject into a comprehensive
This statement and the legislative history of Part III were
given wide distribution by the bureau after Senator Richard
Russell (D., Ga.) pretended to find some hidden deception in
We have never underestimated the
potential good in Part III. The director is happy to report that
Representative Emanuel Celler (D., N.Y.), Chairman of the House
Judiciary Committee, and Mr. Keating, who is the ranking member
for the minority Party, are both pledged to resume the fight to
get Part III enacted into law when the next session of Congress
Now that it is clear that a meaningful
civil rights bill can pass the Congress, the director hopes that
all of the civil rights forces in the country will keep their
fire centered on the main target, which is the Congress of the
It is hoped that those who fell by the
wayside when many thought our fight was hopeless will now unite
with the NAACP in a determined drive to change the following
votes in the United States Senate.
Senators Who Voted to Remove Part III
From H.R. 6127 in the 85th Congress
Part III was
removed by a vote of 52 to 38. If we are to win in the next
session of Congress, we must hold what we got in the first
session and pick up at least eight additional votes.
Between now and the time Congress meets
in January, all who believe in civil rights would do well to
concentrate their energies on helping to get as many of the
above Senators as possible to pledge that they will make a last
ditch, unyielding fight for the new bill which will be
introduced in January. This task can be undertaken now while
most of these Senators are in their home states.
The Jury Trial
No one who made the fight to defeat the
jury trial amendment to H.R. 6127 has any need to apologize.
When the O’Mahoney, Kefauver, Church jury trial amendment was
approved by a vote of 51 to 42 on August 2, 1957, the civil
rights leaders on the Senate floor had lost only because they
had been deserted by other Senators who should have stood with
The director had the good fortune to
talk with Senator William Knowland, the minority leader, in the
Senator’s office immediately after the Senate recessed that
night. The Senator was deeply moved by what had happened but he
was equally determined to carry the fight to a finish.
The following day, Senator Paul Douglas
met with civil rights workers. He, too, was full of
determination to carry on.
The Department of Justice is the source
of the jury trial language that was put in the bill as a
substitute for the Senate amendment. The Department has
privately and publicly said this language will permit effective
enforcement of the new law.
This issue will again arise when the
fight to restore Part III is resumed. The following are the
Senators who should be reached now if the jury trial amendment
is to be knocked out completely.
Allen Frear, Delaware
Frank Church, Idaho
Robert [John] Kennedy, Mass.
James Murray, Montana
Clinton Anderson, N. Mex.
Dennis Chavez, New Mex.
Frank Lausche, Ohio
Robert Kerr, Okla.
Theodore Green, R.I.
Pastore, R. I.
Albert Gore, Tenn.
Estes Kefauver, Tenn.
Lyndon Johnson, Texas
Warren Magnuson, Wash.
Henry Jackson, Wash.
21.Joseph O’Mahoney, Wyo.
Barry Goldwater, Ariz.
Homer Capehart, Ind.
Andrew Schoeppel, Kans.
Margaret Smith, Maine
George Malone, Nevada
Milton Young, N. D.
Francis Case, S. D.
Mundt, South Dakota
Chapman Revercomb, W. Va.
From the above Senators, we must get at
least five votes. No amount of breast-beating will mean anything
unless it is coupled with the delivery of at least five votes and
possibly more if Senator Bridges of New Hampshire and the new
Senator from Wisconsin, Mr. William Proxmire, are to be taken into
consideration. Here, again, the opportunity to work is at hand in
most of the states because these Senators are now back home.
So many important people and events are
linked with the civil rights fight that it is almost impossible to
list them without running the risk of offending someone. An attempt
will be made later to list those who deserve commendation in
speeches, letters, and reports.
At this point, the director wishes to call
attention to one man who volunteered to assist. He is Mr. Harry
Kingman of Berkeley, California. Mr. Kingman spent approximately
$3,000 of his personal savings to live and work in Washington in the
interest of human rights. Most of his time was spent faithfully and
helpfully working for passage of H.R. 6127.
The Bureau monthly reports for 1957 contain
the record on the civil rights fight in the first session of the 85th
Congress. No attempt is made to summarize them at this time.
The following are excerpts from the
mimeographed annual reports of the bureau which will help to give
some of the background on how the bill came before the Congress.
At the opening of the 84th
Congress nearly 100 civil rights bills were introduced. A
subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee held hearings on 51 of
these bills in July. Following these hearings, the full Judiciary
Committee, on July 28, reported out favorably a bill introduced by
Representative Emanuel Celler (D., N.Y.) providing Federal
protection for servicemen against abuse and violence by law
enforcement officers and civilians. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee
likewise approved a similar bill introduced by Senator Herbert
Lehman (D., N.Y.). No further action was taken on any of these bills
in either House during the year. (From 1955 Annual Report of the
During the 1956 campaign for the Presidency,
many charges and promises were made on civil rights matters. One of
the frequent charges made against the Republicans was that they did
not send civil rights proposals to Congress until it was too late to
act. A charge made against the Democrats was that their Party was
dominated by southern committee chairmen in Congress.
The following are some of the highlights on
civil rights legislation in 1956. These facts speak for themselves.
On September 7, 1955, Mr. Roy Wilkins,
Executive Secretary; Mr. Thurgood Marshall, Special Counsel; the
Director of the Washington Bureau; Mrs. Ruby Hurley, Southeastern
Regional Secretary; and Mr. Medgar Evers, Field Secretary for the
State of Mississippi, met with Warren Olney, III, Assistant Attorney
General, to discuss some of the problems of violence and denial of
right to vote in the South.
At the conference it was agreed that, among
other things, the Department of Justice had an obligation to tell
the Congress where its existing powers needed strengthening in order
to cope with crimes such as the Till case, the shooting of the
Reverend George W. Lee, and the persistent program of denying
colored people the right to vote.
As a follow up on this conference, the
Director met with the Attorney General and members of Congress in an
attempt to work out a coordinated approach to the legislative side
of this matter. The Attorney General studied bills which were
pending in the Congress and prepared recommendations.
In the House of Representatives, Democrats
and Republicans worked together for passage of the Justice
On March 21, subcommittee No. 2 of the House
Judiciary Committee had reported out H.R. 259, an Anti-Lynching
Bill, and H.R. 627, an Omnibus Civil Rights Bill introduced by
Representative Emanuel Celler (D., N.Y.).
On March 28, the New York Times
carried a page one story saying that a civil rights program would be
sent to Congress by the Department of Justice on March 29. The
Director firmly believes that the Times story was accurate at
the time it was published, but the program did not reach Congress
until April 9, 1956. When the Justice Department’s proposals reached
the House, the Judiciary subcommittee substituted the Department’s
language for the language of the Celler Bill, but retained Mr.
Celler’s name as author and the number (H.R 627).
The bill was reported out of committee with
a minority report signed by seven members on April 25, 1956. When it
appeared that this legislation might be smothered in the House Rules
Committee (which is headed by Representative Howard Smith (D., Va.),
Representatives James Roosevelt (D., Calif.) and Charles Brownson
(R., Ind.) initiated a bi-partisan drive to get 218 signatures for a
discharge petition which would being [bring] the bill to the floor.
Meanwhile, in the House Rules Committee,
Representative Richard Bolling (D., Mo.) made a motion to bring the
bill out of that committee. His motion received bi-partisan support
and after a few delaying actions by the southern bloc the Rules
Committee sent the measure to the House floor where it passed 279 to
126, July 23, 1956.
significant that during the floor fight on this bill Representative
Joseph Martin (R., Mass.), Minority Leader, made a strong and
effective plea for Republicans to avoid joining southern Democrats
in a coalition move to defeat the bill. One of the most truculent
opponents of the bill was Representative T. James Tumulty (D.,
N.J.). Mr. Tumulty was defeated in November.
* * *
* * *
In the Senate, many problems existed from
the beginning of the 84th Congress. These became worse in
the Second Session which was held in 1956.
On February 23, the Director of the NAACP’s
Washington Bureau requested Senator Theodore Francis Green (D.,
R.I.), Chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, to
hold hearings on charges of misconduct by Senator Eastland. Senator
Green refused to hold such hearings.
On February 27, Senator Harley Kilgore (D.,
W. Va.), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, died. Senator Earl
Clements of Kentucky (who was defeated in November) offered
Eastland’s name as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee on March 2.
Senator Herbert Lehman (D., N.Y.) and
Senator Wayne Morse (D., Ore.) were the only two Senators who took
the floor against the Eastland nomination. Many others who were
asked to oppose Eastland either declined to do so or had “out of
The Bureau furnished Senators Morse and
Lehman with copies of a memorandum prepared by Mr. J. Francis
Pohlhaus on Senator Eastland’s record. We also gave Senator Morse a
photostatic copy of a speech made by Senator Eastland in which the
Mississippian boasted that he had broken the law. These materials
were used by the two opponents of Senator Eastland. Eastland did not
answer these charges himself but relied on Senator John Stennis (D.,
Miss.) to speak for him.
On March 2, 1956, the Senate Judiciary
Subcommittee on Constitutional rights favorably reported S. 900, an
Anti-Lynching Bill; S. 902, a Bill to Create Civil Rights Division
in the Department of Justice; S. 903, a Bill to Protect Voting
Rights; and H.R. 5205, a Bill to Protect Servicemen Against
Violence, which had passed the House by unanimous consent at a time
when southern opponents of civil rights were not on the floor.
Members of the subcommittee were Senators
Thomas C. Hennings (D.,Mo.), Joseph O’Mahoney (D.,Wyo.), and William
Although the subcommittee had approved
similar legislation, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to have
full committee hearings on the proposals sent in by the Justice
Department. These hearings dragged on interminably.
Senators Douglas, Hennings, Ives, Langer,
Lehman, Bender, and Morse made a heroic effort to get the Senate to
take up the House passed Bill (H.R. 627), but they were
The 1956 Republican platform included a
pledge that the President’s legislative proposals (H.R. 627) which
were submitted to the 84th Congress, will be supported.
The Democratic platform contains a promise
to effect rules changes in the opening days of the 85th
Congress. Therefore, it is important to call attention to the
following excerpt from the Congressional Record, dated July
“Mr. Case of New
Jersey. I, therefore, ask both the Majority Leader and the Minority
Leader as individuals, and as undoubted leaders in the next session
of Congress, if they will give assurance that, whichever Party
controls the Congress, they will use their best efforts to secure
prompt and early consideration of that measure (H.R. 627).
(Minority Leader). “I would hope that such a measure could be
considered early in the next session of Congress, not in the second
year of the 85th Congress, but in the first year of the
85th Congress, and that following hearings—and certainly
everyone, either for or against the proposed legislation, is
entitled to be heard—the bill could be reported to the Senate,
perhaps by March 1 or April 1 at the latest.
“Then, if the bill
had been reported to the Senate and had been cleared by the policy
committee of the majority—if we should happen at that time to be the
majority—I believe it would be incumbent upon me, as the leader, if
I should hold that position at the time, to ask the Senate to
consider the bill very early in the session, in order to avoid the
parliamentary obstacle which otherwise, I am sure all Members of the
Senate recognize, exists . . .
“If the Senator is
assuming legislation along the lines which the President has
recommended—perhaps not word for word, but along those general
lines—I would hope very much that the Senate could successfully act
upon it at the next session of Congress.
“Mr. Johnson of
Texas (Majority Leader). What the Senate or any other legislative
body does depends on what the majority of the Members of the
committee which controls the proposed legislation wants done.
“All I can say to
the Senator is that when the committee acts, if I am the majority
leader, and if I have responsibility for scheduling any proposed
legislation, I shall take prompt action to bring it to the attention
of the group over which I preside, namely, the policy committee. In
the event the policy committee feels that it is a bill which should
be scheduled for action, it will be brought to the floor of the
The Director of the Washington Bureau filled
speaking engagements in Washington, D. C., Baltimore, Maryland, St.
Louis, Missouri, and Boston, Massachusetts.
* * *
* * *
An analysis of the Civil Rights Bill
prepared by Mr. J. Francis Pohlhaus, Washington Bureau Counsel,
appears on the next page.
* * *
* * *
September 6, 1957
ANALYSIS OF H. R. 6127, AS PASSED BY CONGRESS
Francis Pohlhaus, Washington Bureau Counsel
This part establishes a six member,
bi-partisan Commission on Civil Rights, to be appointed by the
President with the advice and consent of the Senate.
Procedural rules are established for the
operation of the Commission.
The Commission is authorized:
investigate written allegations under oath of deprivations of voting
rights because of race, color, religion, or national origin.
and collect information on legal developments constituting a denial
of equal protection of the laws.
appraise the laws and policies of the Federal Government with
respect to equal protection of the laws.
The Commission shall report to the President
and Congress. Its final reports shall be submitted not later than
two years from the date of passage of the Act. It shall cease to
exist sixty days thereafter.
The Commission will have a full time staff
director, appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate.
It will not be allowed to accept volunteer
or uncompensated labor.
The Commission will have the right to issue
subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses, but such subpoenas shall
not require the witness to attend a hearing outside the state where
the subpoena is served.
This part provides for an additional
Assistant Attorney General. Although not required by the bill, the
Attorney General has promised to assign him a new Civil Rights
This repeals 42 U.S. C. 1993, which
authorizes the use of military forces to enforce civil rights
Under other existing laws, however, the
President has the power to use troops if necessary to enforce the
laws. He is authorized to call on the U.S. Armed Forces or to
Federalize the national guard if it is impractical to enforce the
laws by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings (10 U.S.C. 332)
or if the execution of the laws is so hindered as to deny
Constitutional rights and State authorities fail or refuse to
protect such rights (10 U.S.C. 333).
Under this part, individuals are granted the
right to sue in equity or for damages where Congress has granted
protection to civil rights, including voting rights.
This right is granted now under existing
civil rights statutes in most cases. However, a few statutes
guaranteeing civil rights either provide no remedy or provide only
for damages. Under this part of the bill, there is provided a
statutory basis for getting injunctions as well as damages in
protecting these rights.
For instance, under 42 U.S.C. 1971, as
amended by Part IV of this bill, a private citizen could get an
injunction against individuals who intimidate, coerce or threaten
him for the purpose of interfering with his right to vote in a
Under 42 U.S.C. 1985, it appears that it
will now be possible to get injunctions to prevent interference with
court orders by outside persons, provided the court orders relate to
a matter involving equal protection of the laws, such as school
segregation. Also, it would seem that officials who are seeking to
grant such rights could get protection in the performance of their
As it now is written, 42 U.S.C. 1985
provides only for damages in these situations.
Under this part of the bill, the Attorney
General is authorized to bring an action for preventive relief
(injunction) to prevent: (1) the denial of the right to vote in any
election because of race or color. (2) intimidation or coercion
interfering with the right to vote in an election involving
candidates for Federal office.
This action can be instituted without the
necessity of exhausting State legal or administrative action.
This means that the Attorney General would
not be required to go into State court or appeal through State
administrative agencies but could apply directly to a Federal Court
for the injunction.
Anyone charged with contempt under this part
shall have counsel assigned by the court if he cannot secure
This part regulates cases of criminal
contempt arising under the provisions of the bill.
It limits the punishment in such cases, if
the defendant is a natural person, to $1,000.00 fine orsix
It grants the judge the right, in his
discretion, to order a jury trial.
If such a case is tried without a jury and a
fine in excess of $300.00 or imprisonment in excess of forty-five
days is imposed, the accused has a right to demand a new trial
before a jury.
It is specifically provided that the civil
contempt power of the courts shall not be affected by this bill.
Accordingly the courts can force compliance to their decrees by
fines or imprisonment without the limitations provided under
criminal contempt and without a jury trial.
This part also amends Federal law relating
to jury selection by repealing that section of existing law which
makes ineligible for jury duty anyone ineligible under State law.
Harry Lees Kingman, the former West Coast FEPC regional
director, and his wife Ruth came to Washington at Mitchell’s
request in 1957. They formed a private lobbying organization
on behalf of civil rights, desegregation, and other causes,
which they called the Citizens Lobby for Freedom and Fair
Play. The two were highly effective in forging ties with
Senator William Knowland and in obtaining votes for numerous
civil rights bills and other important measures. See Harry
L. Kingman, “Citizenship in a Democracy, An Interview
Conducted by Rosemary Levenson,” Regional Oral History
Office, the Bancroft Library, University of California,
Berkeley, 1973, 135-188; and the Kingman Papers, Bancroft
Library. Coordinate notes with material in Biographical
February 5, 1959
The importance of the pending civil
rights bills in the 86th Congress makes an
analysis and understanding of them imperative. These bills
have been studied by the Washington Bureau counsel and his
conclusions are set forth in this report. Because of the
length of the material, no other matters are presented.
Since the opening of the 86th
Congress, four major civil rights programs have been offered
to the Congress.
Since the Senate has announced
definite hearings on civil rights, the Senate bills
embodying these programs will be discussed here. In each
instance the Senate bill has one or more House
counter-parts. In the order in which they have been
introduced in the Senate, these programs are: (1) the
Javits bill (S. 456), co-sponsored by Senators Javits (R.,
NY), Keating (R., N.Y.), Case (R., N.J.), Cooper (R., Ky.),
Scott (R., Penna.), and Allott (R., Colo.); (2) the Johnson
bill (S. 499) introduced by Senator Johnson (D., Texas) and
later co-sponsored by Senator Hennings (D., Mo.); (3) the
Douglas bill (S. 810) co-sponsored by Senator Douglas (D.,
Ill.) and a bi-partisan group of sixteen other Senators;
(4) the Administration’s program.
I The Javits Bill (S. 456)
S. 456 would authorize the Attorney
General to prosecute a civil proceeding for or in the name
of the United States to protect the rights of persons
subject to or threatened with loss of the right of equal
protection of the laws by reason of race, color, religion or
national origin. Such a proceeding could be instituted upon
a sworn complaint of a person or persons unable because of
financial inability or other reason to prosecute such a
proceeding. Such a proceeding would be for preventive relief
for injunction or other order against any person acting
under color of law to deny equal protection of the laws or
any one conspiring with such person.
The bill would also authorize the
Attorney General to institure [institute] preventive
proceedings against anyone conspiring through threats,
violence, or otherwise to hinder duly constituted State or
local authorities from giving or securing equal protection
on the laws. Such proceeding could be instituted upon the
written request of the officials.
The bill would authorize the
institution of preventive proceedings without the
requirement of exhaustion of administrative remedies.
This bill is in essence, though not
in language, similar to Part III of the Civil Rights Bill of
1957, before its amendment in the Senate.
It would authorize the Attorney
General to institute civil proceedings to prevent any denial
of equal protection of the laws because of race, color,
religion or national origin. This would include, of course,
the denial of educational rights protected under the
decisions of the Supreme Court.
In addition, the bill would grant
Federal protection to local authorities who desire to grant
such educational and other rights, but are hindered from
doing so by violence or threats of violence.
The provision eliminating the
necessity for exhaustion of administrative remedies would
speed up the legal processes in having these issues
II The Johnson Bill (S. 499)
Title I would establish a Community
Relations Service as an independent Government Agency to
provide conciliation service to communities where (1)
disagreements or difficulties regarding the laws or
Constitution of the United States, or (2) disagreements or
difficulties which affect or may affect interstate commerce,
are disrupting or threaten to disrupt peaceful relations in
Activities of the Service would be
confidential. It could utilize the services of state and
local agencies and non-public agencies.
The Service would be headed by a
Director, with five assistants, all subject to Senate
confirmation. Total staff would be limited to one hundred.
The Service’s principal office would
be in Washington, but the Director would be authorized to
establish five regional offices, each headed by an Assistant
The Service would be required to
report to Congress annually and could make recommendations
for legislation (but only as to its own administration).
Title II would extend the life of
the Civil Rights Commission from sixty days following
September 9, 1959, to sixty days following January 31, 1961.
This part of the bill would give the
Department of Justice power to subpoena “books, papers,
records or other documents” relevant to an investigation of
voting rights instituted under the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
The subpoena could be issued only if
the person who has possession refuses to furnish it, or, in
the case of a public official, only if the Governor of the
State has refused to order its surrender.
The subpoena could not require the
presence of a person outside the State where he is found,
resides, or does business.
The subpoena power could be enforced
by a three judge Federal Court, with disobedience of a final
order of the court constituting contempt.
The fourth title would make
interstate transportation of explosives or possession of
explosives transported in interstate commerce illegal if
such transportation or possession is with the knowledge or
intent that they be used to damage or destroy “for the
purpose of interfering with its use, for business,
educational, religious, charitable, or civic objectives or
of intimidating any person pursuing such objectives.”
Punishment would be $1000 fine and/or one year imprisonment,
or death or imprisonment for life or any term of years if a
death results from the violation.
Also prohibited would be the use of
mail, telephone, telegram or other communications to convey
false information of alleged bombing attempts.
The FBI would be authorized to
investigate when a building has been damaged or destroyed by
an explosive, if the Attorney General authorizes the
investigation on reasonable grounds that a violation of this
statute has occurred.
The Attorney General could also
authorize use of the FBI in such cases on the request of
. . . . . . . .
Senator Johnson and his supporters
have attempted to draw a parallel between the proposed
Community Relations Service and the Federal Mediation and
Conciliation Service set up under the Taft-Hartley Act.
There is no true analogy between the
two agencies. The Mediation service does not get involved in
issues where there are clearly defined Constitutional or
legal rights. These issues are left to the N.L.R.B. or the
courts. The Mediation Service attempts to settle practical
disputes between labor and management where there are
legitimate differences of opinion, not involving legal
The true analogy would be if the
Mediation Service were allowed to enter a dispute and
resolve it after the N.L.R.B. and courts had ruled and the
losing party refused to abide by the decision.
One thing that the commentators on
the Johnson Bill have not explored is the tremendous scope
of the jurisdiction of the proposed Community Relations
It has been described as an agency
to help resolve civil rights problems. There is, however, no
such limitations on its jurisdiction. Given the authority to
inject itself into any dispute involving “the laws or
Constitution of the United States,” or those “which affect
or may affect interstate commerce,” it could get involved in
almost any conceivable controversy. Church-state relations,
Federal-state relations, labor-management controversies,
enforcement of criminal laws, election disputes and
countless other conflicts could be brought to the Service.
It could, within the language of the proposed bill,
actually supplant the Federal Mediation and Conciliation
Service in the labor-management field.
The extension of the life of the
Civil Rights Commission presents the opponents of civil
rights and the “moderates” with an excuse for additional
delay in Congressional action on substantial civil rights
There appears to be at least one
grave “loophole” in the granting of subpoena power to the
Department of Justice in voting cases.
The section dealing with public
officials limits the subpoena power by requiring that it not
be used until the Governor of the state involved has failed
to order the official to surrender the required document.
This could lead to collusion between a Governor and the
official whereby the Governor could order, but not enforce,
the surrender of the document. It is possible that under
a strict construction of this provision nothing could be
done in such a situation.
This provision would also allow for
delay, while a Governor would “study” the Department’s
The requirement of a three judge
court could also require additional delay.
The anti-bombing part of the bill
includes the recommendation of the Association that such
legislation should cover business establishments, but omits
that relating to places of residence.
It omits the provision contained in
some of the anti-bombing bills which would create a
presumption of interstate transportation whenever an
explosion of the type described in the bill occurs. In so
doing, it changes but little the existing involvement of the
FBI in this type of case.
The bill would involve the FBI only
at the discretion of the Attorney General or on the request
of local authorities. This is the present de facto
involvement of the Bureau, whether the Department of Justice
admits it or not. Under the existing arrangement, seldom, if
ever, has the Bureau intervened in a case involving property
under colored ownership.
If the presumption of a Federal
crime were created, it would be difficult for the Department
to stay out of these cases.
III The Douglas Bill
following is a short explanation of the Douglas Bill which
will be useful for those who desire a thumbnail sketch of
what it contains.
is identical, except for necessary technical changes, in its
provisions with S. 3257, introduced by Senator Douglas in
the 85th Congress. As noted in the 1958 Annual
Convention Resolution of the NAACP, specifically endorsing
this bill, it restores Part III of the Civil Rights Bill of
1957 and provides financial aid for States and school
districts in connection with desegregation. This bill is the
most comprehensive in its support of the principle of equal
protection of the laws of any of the bills under
careful study of the comprehensive and extensive analysis of
the Douglas Bill will be very valuable especially when the
civil rights bills reach the floor. It is recommended that
those who want a more detailed statement than that set forth
in the foregoing short version should read the following:
introductory section of S. 810 gives a statement of the
purposes of the bill and the bases for action by the
Congress. It includes provisions endorsing the principle of
the anti-segregation decisions of the Supreme Court and
recognizing the responsibility and authority of the Congress
to uphold the authority of the Judicial Branch.
title authorizes the Secretary of Health, Education and
Welfare to render technical assistance to States and
communities seeking to comply with the Supreme Court
decisions. Such assistance would include giving information,
conducting surveys, promoting conferences and councils,
providing service of speacilists [specialists] and
developing community understanding for desegregation.
Appropriations up to $2.5 million for five years for these
purposes would be authorized.
title would authorize the Secretary of Health, Education and
Welfare to make grants to communities to assist
desegregation programs. Such grants would be for buildings,
equipment, teacher training, specialists, teacher salaries
and other costs.
would also authorize grants for communities denied State
funds because of local desegregation programs.
Appropriations up to $40 million per year for five years
would be authorized under this title.
title encourages the Secretary of Health, Education and
Welfare to persuade State and local communities to begin
compliance with the Supreme Court decisions. If unable to do
so, he would be authorized to prepare a tentative
desegregation plan with the advice and assistance of local
officials, organizations and citizens.
such a plan is not acceptable to appropriate State or local
officials, the Secretary is authorized to hold a hearing
thereon at which all interested parties may be heard. After
the hearing he shall formulate and publish an approved plan.
approved plan is rejected by the State or local officials,
and all attempts at conciliation, persuasion, education and
assistance have failed, the Attorney General is authorized
to institute proceedings to enforce compliance.
action may be dismissed by the Attorney General if the State
or local government makes a prompt and reasonable start to
comply with the Supreme Court hearings.
interested party is authorized to intervene in any action
brought under this title and proposals of intervenors shall
be considered by the court in determining its decree.
title authorizes the Attorney General, on a signed complaint
or on his own certification, to seek preventive relief to
protect persons being deprived of or threatened with
deprivation of, equal protection of the laws because of
race, color, religion or national origin, if the persons
whose rights are invaded are unable to seek legal relief
because of lack of finances, economic pressures or fear of
Attorney General would also be authorized to seek preventive
relief to assist public officials in guaranteeing equal
protection of the laws by enjoining anyone from hindering or
attempting to hinder the execution of any court order
protecting the equal protection of the laws.
addition, the Attorney General would be authorized to
proceed on behalf of any persons or associations being
deprived or threatened with deprivation of rights under
color of law because of support of Fourteenth Amendment
final section of this title would allow the Attorney General
to intervene in any case brought in the Federal Courts
seeking relief from a denial of equal protection of the law
because of race, color, religion or national origin.
final title provides that any action brought under the bill
may be brought without the necessity of exhausting
introductory part of the bill is important because, if
adopted, it would mark the first specific approval of the
Supreme Court’s anti-segregation decision by the Congress.
II would be of assistance to those communities which wish to
proceed in good faith to comply with the Supreme Court
decisions, but need advice and encouragement.
would assist such communities in the necessary preparation
for desegregation and help them avoid mistakes made in other
Although the grants provided in
this title to assist communities in desegregation would not
be necessary if such communities had previously made proper
provision for all students without regard to race,
they can be justified as an extraordinary help that will
ease the transition to a desegregated system. They should
also encourage many communities now undecided to begin such
grants to communities whose State funds have been cut off
would support the principle of local option and should
encourage more communities to defy these obviously
unconstitutional State denials of funds.
part of the bill would provide an orderly administrative
program for the formulation of desegregation programs for
those areas where local officials fail to take the
would undoubtedly speed up the desegregation process and
make possible the initiation of programs in many communities
where interested citizens are prevented from acting because
of local pressures.
title would provide the legal process for the enforcement of
the plans formulated under Title IV. Such enforcement would
occur only after all other methods of seeking compliance had
is an expanded version of Part III of the Civil Rights Bill
of 1957. It would protect persons denied equal protection of
the laws because of race, color, religion or national
origin, public officials who seek to vindicate equal
protection of the laws, and persons and organizations who
support equal protection.
by the Attorney General under this title would not be
dependent upon action by the Department of Health, Education
and Welfare under Title V, but could be taken at any time
the conditions warrant.
is the most comprehensive of all the versions of Part III.
last title would eliminate the delay required by exhaustion
of administrative remedies in any case brought under the
previous titles of the bill.
The Administration Program
Administration, pursuant to the President’s Civil Rights
Message of February 5, 1959, has submitted a seven point
program. This program was submitted by Senator Dirksen (R.,
Ill.), the Minority Leader and Senator Goldwater (R., Ariz.)
in seven separate bills, S. 955, S. 956, S. 957, S. 958, S.
959, S. 960 and S. 942.
bill would make it a criminal offense to prevent, obstruct,
impede or interfere with, by force or threat, or attempt to
do so, the exercise of rights or performance of duties under
any order, judgment or decree of court issued in a school
desegregation case. It would not apply to a student, officer
or employee of a school acting under direction of, or
subject to disciplinary action, by school officials,
bill would make it a criminal offense to travel in
interstate commerce to avoid prosecution or punishment for
damage or destruction by fire or explosion of religious or
would require election officials under criminal penalties to
preserve registration and election records of Federal
elections for three years and make theft, destruction or
alteration of such records a criminal offense. It would make
such records subject to examination by the Attorney General
or his representative for confidential use by the Department
District courts would be given jurisdiction to compel
production of these election records.
bill would authorize appropriations for local educational
agencies to aid desegregation programs. Such aid would be
for non-teaching technical, professional and administrative
personnel and for costs incurred in developing state
would be available to all states affected by the Supreme
Court’s decisions. A state’s quota of the funds would be
based on school attendance for the school year 1953-54. From
a state’s allotment the Commissioner on Education would pay
one-half of the expenses incurred by the State agencies for
carrying out its plan of desegregation.
plans for administering the funds would be formulated under
criteria set out in the bill and approved by the
event a State fails to make application for funds, such
funds could go directly to local educational agencies, with
the State’s approval or if the States indicates it does not
assume responsibility for desegregation.
Commissioner is authorized to collect and disseminate
information on progress of desegregation and to provide,
upon request, information and technical assistance to State
and local officials to aid them in developing desegregation
Although the bill specifies no amount of expenditure, the
estimate submitted by the Secretary of Health, Education and
Welfare was for a total of $4,500,000 for the next two
would amend Public Laws 815 and 874, 81st
Congress, which establish the program of education aid to
areas affected by Federal activities.
proposed amendments would allow the Commissioner of
Education to operate schools for all children of members of
the Armed Services who are prevented from obtaining an
education because of the closing of local public schools by
State and local government action.
respect to any schools constructed in the future under these
public laws, the Commissioner would be authorized to take
possession of them if they are not being used for providing
free public education. Upon taking possession the
Commissioner would be required to pay the local educational
agency a rental fee, based on the local agency’s share of
the cost of construction.
would extend the life of the Civil Rights Commission two
years and require an interim report by September 1, 1959.
final bill of the Administration program would create a
Commission on Equal Job Opportunity under Government
Commission would consist of fifteen members appointed by the
President. It would have the authority to make
investigations, studies and surveys and conduct hearings. It
would be charged with the duty of making recommendations to
the President and to government contracting agencies with
respect to the preparation, revision, execution and
enforcement of contract provisions relating to
Government contracting agencies would be charged with
performing such duties requested by the President to
cooperate with the Commission.
chief disappointment of the Administration program is the
failure of the President to renew his request for Part III
of his Civil Rights Bill of 1957.
manner in which the program was introduced, in seven
separate bills, may make it difficult for the program to be
considered in its entirety. This procedure may also give
opponents of civil rights an opportunity to delay
consideration by successive attacks on each component part.
Some consideration should therefore be given to an omnibus
bill containing the whole program.
The present state of the
law with respect to interference with rights under a Federal
court decree is in a state of confusion. As a result of
this, the Department of Justice has proceeded against
obstructionists only as amicuscuriae or on
invitation of the courts.
bill would give clear authority for the Department to
investigate violence and threats and to prosecute those who
seek to interfere with rights enunciated in the school
desegregation cases. If passed, it should prove a great
deterrent to the repetition of mob violence of the Clinton
or Little Rock variety.
President’s message and the statement of the Attorney
General indicate that this legislation will involve the FBI
in investigation of all arson or bombings of schools and
places of worship.
reading of the bill, however, indicates that this is not a
correct technical interpretation of the legislation. Such
involvement of the FBI under this bill must be based on a
presumption of interstate flight. Such a presumption could
be made administratively, for investigative purposes, by the
Department of Justice. But there is nothing in this bill to
require such a presumption to be made. This could be
corrected by writing such a presumption into the bill, such
as is contained in the so-called Lindberg kidnapping law,
should be noted that this bill does not relate to damage or
destruction of business or residential property, as
suggested by the Association.
purpose of this bill is to make all records relevant to
voting in Federal elections available for inspection by the
Department of Justice. It would be a great help to the
Department in its investigation of voting cases under the
Civil Rights Act of 1957.
proposal to require such records to be retained for three
years would block the proposal recently made in Alabama that
voting officials destroy election records to cover up
technical aid program proposed by this bill adopts the
principle of the Douglas Bill, though on a greatly reduced
scale both as to the extent of the program and the amount of
aid to be given.
could be of some help to those communities wishing to
desegregate and in need of some help and encouragement to do
bill would guarantee continuing education to children of all
servicemen where local schools close as a result of defiance
of the Supreme Court decisions.
would not, however, reach the basic defect in Public Laws
815 and 874—the failure to require that grants thereunder be
used in conformity with the Supreme Court’s decisions.
provision relating to the Commissioner’s taking possession
of school buildings constructed under these laws would be of
limited effect, as it would apply only to future
life of the Civil Rights Commission is to be extended, as
proposed in this bill, consideration should be given to
correction of the shortcomings of the Commission. Such
shortcomings would include its composition, its tendency to
restrict its authority and lack of authority to investigate
except on sworn complaint.
Commission provided hereunder would replace the President’s
Committee on Government Contracts, which operates under
statutory duties and functions granted the Commission would
not differ greatly from those now exercised by the
Committee, except that it would be able to make its own
investigations and conduct hearings.
only be hoped that such a Commission, with duties conferred
by statute would be more effective than the present weak
insure this, however, some enforcement power and a clear
grant of jurisdiction, inclusive of the activities of labor
unions as well as employers, should be given to the
Douglas Bill, by specific reference, and the Javits Bill, by
approval of the principle embodied therein, were approved by
the last Annual Convention of the Association. Both,
therefore, should be considered deserving of support by
proponents of civil rights.
other hand, the Johnson Bill has nothing to recommend it to
friends of civil rights. There is nothing in the bill which
is not treated more adequately and constructively in other
legislation pending in the Congress. In addition, it has one
feature, the so-called conciliation provision, which could
lead to the denial, dilution and delay of constitutional
anti-bombing provision of the bill is treated better in the
Kennedy Bill (S. 188) and others, which provided for the
legal presumption necessary to involve the FBI in
subpoena power granted to the Department of Justice in
voting cases is so hedged with delaying devices [as] to
render it unacceptable. The Administration Bill treats this
point much more directly and fully,
extension of the life of the Civil Rights Commission is, of
course, part of the Administration program as well as being
the subject of several separate bills.
following are members of the House and Senate committees to
which civil rights bills have been referred:
Education and Labor
Emanuel Celler (D., N.Y.) Chairman
Francis E. Walter (D., Penna.)
Thomas J. Lane (D.,
Michael A. Feighman (D., Ohio)
Frank Chelf (D., Ky.)
Edwin E. Willis (D., La.)
Peter W. Rodino (D., N. J.)
E.L. Forrester (D., Ga.)
Byron G. Rogers (D., Colo.)
Harold D. Donohue (D., Mass.)
Jack Brooks (D., Tex.)
William M. Tuck (D., Va.)
Robert T. Ashmore (D., S.C.)
John Dowdy (D., Tex.)
Lester Holtzman (D., N.Y.)
Basil L. Whitener (D., N.C.)
Roland V. Libonati (D., Ill.)
J. Carlton Loser (D., Tenn.)
Herman Toll (D., Penna.)
Robert W. Kastenmeier (D., Wis.)
George Kasem (D., Calif.)
William McCulloch (R., Ohio)
William E. Miller (R., N.Y.)
Richard H. Poff (R., Va.)
Arch A. Moore, Jr., (R., W.Va.)
William C. Cramer (R., Fla.)
H. Allen Smith (R. Calif.)
George Meader (R., Mich.)
John E. Henderson (R., Ohio)
John V. Lindsay (R., N.Y.)
William T. Cahill (R., N.J.)
John H. Ray (R., N.Y.)
Graham Harden (D., N.C.) Chairman
Adam C. Powell, Jr., (D., N.Y.)
Cleveland M. Bailey (D., W.Va.)
Carl D. Perkins (D. Ky.)
Roy W. Wier (D., Minn.)
Carl Elliott (D., Ala.)
Phil M. Landrum (D., Ga.)
Edith Green (D., Ore.)
James Roosevelt (D., Calif.)
Herbert Zelenko (D., N.Y.)
Frank Thompson (D., N.J.)
Stewart L. Udall (D., Ariz.)
Elmer J. Holland (D., Penna.)
Ludwig Teller (D., N.Y.)
John H. Dent (D., Penna.)
Roman C. Puchinski (D., Ill.)
Dominick V. Daniels (D., N.J.)
John Brademas (D., Ind.)
Robert N. Giaimo (D., Conn.)
James G. O’Hara (R., Mich.)
Carroll D. Kearns (R., Penna.)
Clare E. Hoffman (R., Mich.)
Joe Holt (R., Calif.)
Stuyvesant Wainwright (R., N.Y.)
Peter Frelinghuysen, Jr., (R., N.J.)
William H. Ayres (R., Ohio)
Robert P. Griffin (R., Mich.)
John A. Lafore, Jr., (Penna.)
Edgar W. Hiestand (R., Calif.)
Labor and Public Welfare
James C. Eastland (D., Miss.),
Estes Kefauver (D., Tenn.)
Olin D. Johnston (D., S.C.)
Thomas C. Hennings, Jr., (D., Mo.)
John L. McClellan (D., Ark.)
Joseph C. O’Mahoney (D., Wyo.)
Sam J. Irwin, Jr., (D., N.C.)
John A. Carroll (D., Colo.)
Thomas J. Dodd (D., Conn.)
Philip A. Hart (D., Mich.)
Alexander Wiley (R., Wis.)
William Langer (R., N.D.)
Roman L. Hruska (R., Neb.)
Thomas E. Martin (R., Iowa)
Lister Hill (D., Ala), Chairman
James E. Murray (D., Mont.)
John F. Kennedy (D., Mass.)
Pat McNamara (D., Mich.)
Wayne Morse (D., Ore.)
Ralph W. Yarborough (D., Texas)
Joseph S. Clark (D., Penna.)
Jennings Randolph (D., W. Va.)
Harrison A. Williams (D., N.J.)
Barry Goldwater (R. Ark. [Ariz.])
John Sherman Cooper (R., Ky.)
Everett M. Dirksen (R., Ill.)
Clifford P. Case (R., N.J.)
Jacob K. Javits (R., N.Y.)
Winston L. Prouty (R., Vt.)
The following bills introduced in the House correspond in
general to the Senate bills as indicated:
– H.R. 3148 (Celler, D., N.Y.); H.R. 618 (Powell, D., N.Y.)
– H.R. 3147 (Celler, D., N.Y.); H.R. 300 (Dawson, D.,
H.R. 430 (Roosevelt, D., Calif.); H.R. 913
(Powell, D., N.Y.)
– H.R. 4169 (Kearns, R., Penna.); H.R. 4348 (Celler, D.,
– H.R. 4339 (Celler, D., N.Y.)
– H.R. 4344 (Celler, D., N.Y.)
– H.R. 4338 (Celler, D., N.Y.)
– H.R. 4342 (Celler, D., N.Y.)
4457, introduced by Congressman McCulloch (R., Ohio),
contains the provisions of S. 942, S. 955, S. 956, S. 957,
S. 958, S. 959 and S. 960.
The analysis of civil rights bills
set forth in this report was made by J. Francis Pohlhaus,
Counsel of the Washington Bureau. While serving on the legal
staff of the Civil Rights Section of the U.S. Department of
Justice, Mr. Pohlhaus was able to evaluate the effectiveness
of existing civil rights laws and to reach personal
conclusions on how these laws could be strengthened. Since
joining the Bureau staff, he has given extensive attention
to the legislative steps that must be taken to meet the
challenges in the civil rights field today.