The Papers of Clarence Mitchell Jr.

                          and of the NAACP Washington Bureau 1942 - 1978





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December 21, 1950




            The work day of the Washington Bureau often includes conferences and negotiations with the highest government officials and the most humble of Washington citizens. Across the desks of our staff members come problems that range from discrimination in Continental United States, Alaska, and Korea to legislative attempts to deprive colored Americans of gains that they have won through the years. Washington is not just the Congress. It is also the numerous executive agencies of government that administer laws affecting our daily lives. In the Capital, the NAACP is a David operating against a great many strongly supported, loud-talking Goliaths. We never forget, however that the original David won.[1]



            As a Christmas present to the Executive Secretary, the Washington Bureau got out its first newsletter to all NAACP State Conference presidents and other key supporters of our program.[2] In his original plans on the Bureau's functions, the Executive Secretary included a provision for a newsletter. The first issue, dated December 20, comes at a time when more than ever the friends of civil rights need background information on what is happening on the banks of the Potomac. Preparation of the letter is largely in the hands of a hard-working young research assistant who is a new addition to the bureau. He is Earle W. Fisher, graduate of Brown University and Boston University Law School.



            Anyone who thinks the South has given up on its attempts to extend segregation in the Armed Services is very foolish. It is well-known that the Air Force and the Navy have made substantial progress in eliminating separate units and "all Colored" classifications.

When Congress considered the Selective Service Act this year, Jim Crow immediately volunteered his services through his able spokesman, Senator Richard Russell of Georgia.

            By a fast move, Senator Russell incorporated a pro-segregation amendment in the Selective Service Act when it came before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The Armed Services Committee of the Senate is heavily loaded with southern members. The Russell amendment was offered at a time when Senator Wayne Morse (R., Ore.) and Senator Leverett Saltonstall (R., Mass.), who are members, were absent.

            The Russell proposal would have required the Armed Services to advise a draftee that he could serve in a segregated unit if he wished to do so. The members of the committee who were present gave it unanimous approval. Any officer who failed to tell the draftee of this right would have been subject to court-martial. This would have cancelled out advances made in the direction of integration in the Armed Services.

            The NAACP obtained prompt and vigorous objection to the amendment from Senator Morse and Senator Saltonstall. The Association also alerted Senator Scott Lucas, Majority Leader, to the serious dangers of the amendment. In the period preceding the vote on Selective Service, the Association rallied friendly senators who voted against the Russell Amendment. It was defeated on June 21, 1950, by a vote of 42 to 29. The defeat was accomplished by voting for an amendment offered by Senator Lucas and others to strike out the Russell Amendment.[3]

            At the time this report is being written, Senator Russell is slated to be the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee in the 82nd Congress.



            If a candidate from Mississippi ran for the Presidency in 1952 under the present distribution of voting strength in the country, he would lose. He would have a real chance to get in the White House, however, if a proposed plan to change our system of electing the President had passed in the 81st Congress.

            This proposal passed the Senate as S.J. Resolution 2. It had much support from liberal senators because many of them did not seem to understand the underlying threat of the measure. Most of them voted for it because they were interested in making constructive reforms in our system of national elections.

            The NAACP carried the fight to the House of Representatives. The measure was defeated there by a vote of 210 to 134 on July 17.

            During the debate in the House, Congressman Clifford Case (R., N.J.), who led the fight against the proposal, pointed out that if it had been in effect during the last national election the State of Georgia alone would have had greater influence in determining the outcome of the election than most populous states outside the solid South.

            Joining Mr. Case in opposing the legislation, Congressman Chet Holifield (D., Cal.) said, "One electoral vote in California represents 168,862 voters. In South Carolina it represents 17,821 or about a 10 to 1 difference. This is not changed by the Bill."

            Both Mr. Case and Mr. Holifield pointed out that because it would mean greater strength for conservative factions, passage of the resolution at this time would kill the chance of keeping civil rights legislation as a part of the platforms of major parties.

            The NAACP circulated a memorandum among congressmen on the effect of the Lodge-Gossett Resolution. The memorandum was prepared for the Association by Dr. John A. Davis, Professor of Political Science, now teaching at Ohio State University.

            At the request of the NAACP, Dr. Davis also addressed a special meeting of congressmen on March 6, 1950. The meeting was arranged by Congressman Holifield.

            The Association supports reform, but we want the kind of change which will bring greater democracy and not increase the powers of the 'filibuster belt."



            A familiar cry among liberals at the Capital is "Let's not kill the bill by adding civil rights features." So far, southern congressmen and senators have had a holiday whenever vital language designed to protect civil rights was proposed as an amendment to important legislation. Those who usually champion civil rights legislation frequently denounce even the mildest of safeguards in other bills. This has been true of housing, labor and education bills. Very few of the members of the liberal bloc will even sponsor much needed amendments.

            The 81st Congress had before it the question on whether the Railway Labor Act should be amended to permit union shop and dues check-off contracts in that industry. At the time this report is written the bill is under consideration in the House.* It has passed the Senate.[4] It does not contain language suggested by the NAACP.[5]

            Senators and congressmen have advised the Association that, as a compromise between the language we want and the opposition of the southern bloc, the intent of Congress was spelled out in committee reports on the legislation.

            The Senate report states the following:

            "During the course of the hearings before the sub-committee, evidence was introduced showing that the constitutions of some labor organizations established qualifications for membership which cannot be met by some railroad employees.

            "The proposal was made by Senator Lehman that your committee's intention be made clear that such employees were not to be deprived of their employment as a result of the exercise of the right extended by this bill.

            "Your committee desires to make it clear that the proviso clauses in paragraph eleventh (a) are designed to protect such employees; thus if an employee is denied membership or is eligible for membership only on terms and conditions not generally applicable to other members, he cannot be requested to give up the job because of failure to join a labor organization.

            "Furthermore, if membership is denied or if an employee is expelled from membership for any reason other than his failure to tender uniformly required periodic dues, initiation fees and assessments, he cannot be required to relinquish his job because of failure to join or remain a member of a labor organization.

            "Your committee also desires to make it clear that nothing in this bill is intended to modify in any way the requirement that the authorized bargaining representative shall represent all the employees in the craft or class, including non-union employees as well as members of the union, fairly, equitably, and in good faith. (See Steele v. Louisville and Nashville Railroad Co. 323 U.S. 192, and Tunstall v. Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, 323 U.S. 210.)."

            If the bill finally passes, with this understanding, it means that victims of collusive agreements between management and labor in the railroad industry will be in a stronger position when they go into court. However, the NAACP's proposal would have made court action unnecessary.

            We testified on this bill without difficulty in the Senate. Our testimony endorsed the union shop and dues check-off but opposed granting this right to unions that refused to abandon segregation.[6]

            The House Committee closed its hearing without permitting us to testify. We talked with Congressman Crosser (D., Ohio), chairman of the House Committee, and discovered that someone had given the committee the impression that the NAACP did not wish to be present to testify. He agreed to reopen the hearings for the purpose of taking our testimony. Mr. Joseph Waddy, counsel for Colored Railway Employees, appeared with the NAACP.[7]

            When we appeared, almost the entire committee was present. Also called to testify at the reopened hearings was Mr. Theodore Brown, representing the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. We have received favorable comment from congressmen concerning the extent and value of the Association's testimony. The fact that the hearings were reopened in response to the Association's protest is a tribute to the prestige of our organization and the fairness of the chairman of the committee.[8]

            Representatives of three railway labor unions visited the Washington Bureau shortly before the fall recess of Congress to ask that the Association refrain from pushing its proposed amendment to the Railway Labor Act. The union representatives stated that they thought the bill would pass if the Association did not insist on an amendment against segregation. We advised the persons who visited the office that the Boston Convention had gone on record supporting a non-discrimination provision in the proposed Railway Labor Act amendment. We also suggested that a great deal of time would be saved in the future if those interested in legislation of this kind would see that it contained appropriate language when it is first drawn up.[9]

            The railway labor bill is discussed at length in this report because it is typical of what we face in all legislation that offers broad benefits to the average American. The Association Conventions have gone on record requiring that appropriate safeguards be sought when such bills are considered by Congress. Later in this report we shall point out how this even touches upon the treaty-making of the United States.

            In this connection we, also, report that the Director of the Washington Bureau represented the Association at a conference called by the National Education Association on Federal Aid to Education. This conference revealed that we shall have the usual opposition to our non-segregation amendment in the 82nd Congress. We are glad to note that the CIO 1950 Convention went on record for a non-segregation amendment in proposed Federal Aid to Education legislation.[10]



            The NAACP has worked for the inclusion of domestic and agricultural workers in the Social Security Act ever since it was first passed by Congress. The Director of the Bureau urged inclusion of these groups in appearances before the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Ways and Means Committee.[11]

            We pointed out that a million and a half colored people were excluded from the Social Security Act because they worked in these occupations.

            The 81st Congress has at least included domestics and a number of agricultural workers.[12] The Research Assistant has prepared and distributed an excellent pamphlet on how this legislation helps domestics and agricultural workers. If branches aid in distributing the pamphlet, there will be a social security card in every kitchen.



            Prompt action by the NAACP won reconsideration of a vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on a discriminatory feature in the Bogota Treaty. This is an agreement between the United States and Latin American Countries.[13]

            The Foreign Relations Committee bowed to a southern demand that the treaty be ratified with the reservation that chapters dealing with civil rights issues would not be "self-executing.” Following NAACP conferences with members of the Foreign Relations Committee and the State Department, the Committee reconsidered its actions and struck out the "self-executing" language.

            Senators Green, Lodge, and McMahon were very helpful in this matter. At the suggestion of the Executive Secretary, top State Department officials met with Association officers to handle the problem. Very valuable legal assistance was given by the NAACP's advisors.

            At the time this report is written, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has refused to report out favorably additional agreements on human rights because of southern objection. It appears that southern members of the Committee are willing to have the United States join in humanitarian agreements as long as those agreements reserve the "right to continue racial discrimination in our own country."

            Here again, we are faced with a struggle with our liberal friends who are reluctant to support a fight against southern demands.



            It is well known that the long delay in the Senate Judiciary Committee in considering the confirmation of Judge William H. Hastie was a cause of national concern.

            A great part of the slow down was due to tedious and unwarranted inquiries by a few committee members. It should be noted, however, most members were impatient because of the filibuster tactics.

            Senator O'Conor (D., Md.) considered the confirmation the first order of business on returning from Switzerland where he was on government business. Senator Kilgore (D., W.Va.) who also favored confirmation had to limp into the meetings with a cane because of a broken ankle.

            The final confirmation on the Senate floor was by unanimous consent.[14]




            The problems in the civil rights legislation fight have been thoroughly documented in NAACP literature. It is presumed that the Secretary and the Administrator will comment on this in their reports. Therefore, the Washington Bureau will mention briefly certain false rumors.

            There is one rumor that an FEPC with no enforcement powers would have been acceptable to the southern senators. This is false. It is reported that southern members of Congress would have accepted a bill to repeal the poll tax. This is false. All available evidence shows that if the Senate had passed a poll tax repeal bill it would have been in the form of a Constitutional amendment which would have been worthless.[15]

            Filibusters prevented consideration of civil rights bills. Statehood for Alaska and Hawaii was killed by the filibuster technique.[16]

            This points out the need for changing the Senate rules on debate.

            In the closing days of the 81st Congress, Senators Morse and Humphrey (D., Minn.) joined in introducing a resolution requiring a simple majority to end a filibuster. Senator Lehman and other Democrats have introduced a somewhat similar proposal which provides a choice of two-thirds of those present at the time of the vote after a 48-hour notice or a simple majority of those present after eight days of debate.

            Several Republicans who promised to support the Lehman plan declined to do so just before it was actually introduced. It is understood, of course, that at this time the chief value of these resolutions is the educational effect they will have on the public.

            It is clear that there must be a fight to change the Senate rules in the 82nd Congress.[17]



When it was clear that the nation faced an emergency, the NAACP immediately began working for an executive order to re-establish FEPC.[18] The proposed order is broader in scope than the World War II order and contains enforcement powers.[19]

            The United States Department of Labor has agreed to our request that racial designations be dropped on employment service applications forms. It is also considering our request that no discriminatory orders be accepted from defense plants. Secretary of Labor Maurice Tobin has indicated that he favors this proposal also, but the Department has not yet acted on it.[20]



            Down at Los Alamos, New Mexico, there is only one barbershop on the Atomic Energy Project. The white barbers refused to cut the hair of colored employees. Our Research Assistant reported this to the Atomic Energy Commission. The barbers were instructed to serve all customers. They went on strike. A new crew was hired. Customers are now served without regard to race.

            This incident shows how some people would rather have segregation than the benefits of atomic energy.

            More problems of this kind will arise in South Carolina where the government plans to begin a Hydrogen Bomb project.[21] Therefore, the Bureau has asked the A.E.C. to make certain that the racial patterns of South Carolina are not imposed on the project.

            We pointed out that 42.9 per cent of the population of South Carolina is colored and with any intelligent use of the local labor supply a large number of colored people will be employed. We have asked that there be no discrimination or segregation in employment, housing, or other facilities.[22]



There are a number of incidents in which colored men are required to eat in separate establishments when they are being processed for induction into the Armed Services.

            The Director of the Washington Bureau and the Research Assistant, met with Captain F. B. C. Martin, Head of the Recruitment Division, United States Navy, on Friday, September 29, 1950, to discuss the Navy’s policy in the handling of volunteers and draftees who are inducted into the Service.

            The complaint against the Navy came from Birmingham, Alabama. Mr. Fisher has similar information about the Department of the Army. The Director also received allegations of segregation involving the Army and Air Force in West Virginia.

            After consideration of this problem, the National Board of the NAACP voted to request that no draftees or volunteers be housed or fed in segregated establishments.[23] The Board also asked that where privately owned establishments insist on segregation, the Armed Services be required to refrain from using such facilities and instead, house and feed draftees or volunteers on military posts or other government facilities. This request has been submitted to Secretary of Defense Marshall and the Secretaries of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.[24]



            The Director of the Bureau and Mr. Frank Reeves, Washington Legal Representative, joined with lawyers from York, Pennsylvania, to represent Lt. Leon Gilbert who was sentenced to death by court-martial in Korea for alleged misconduct in the face of the enemy. The lawyers from York were Mr. Judson Ruch and Mr. William Wogan. The hearing was held before the Judicial Council of the Judge Advocate General’s Office. Mr. Ruch and Mr. Wogan argued that Lt. Gilbert had not had a fair trial in Korea. In addition, it was contended that (1) the original court-martial had committed a technical error, and (2) that by the Army’s own definitions Lt. Gilbert was not responsible for any misconduct.

            Mr. Reeves reminded the Council the record did not include available evidence favorable to Lt. Gilbert and this suggested the need for further investigation. Racial discrimination in the Army, the Director also pointed out to the Council, makes the case of grave importance.

During our negotiations with the Secretary of the Army’s office and the office of the Judge Advocate General on this matter, we raised the question of whether other officers were charged with similar offenses and sentenced to death during World War II. We have been advised by the office of the Judge Advocate General as follows:

            “During the period from 1942 to 1948, ninety-three officers were charged with misbehavior before the enemy in violation of Article of War 75. In that same period, of all cases in which the accused were convicted and sentences to death adjudged there was none in which the sentence to death was executed.”

            One Army board held that there were not sufficient legal grounds for the conviction of Lt. Gilbert. This was over-ruled and a sentence of thirty years was recommended. The President cut the thirty-year sentence to twenty years.[25]



            Two Army officers received orders to report for duty. Both were colored. On their orders they were listed as white. We have used this incident to show the Armed Services that racial designations are meaningless. We are working for the elimination of such classifications.[26]



            In a meeting of the Advisory Council of the Bureau of Employment Security, the Director joined with AFL and CIO representatives in passing a resolution urging that our Government refrain from recruiting foreign workers for agriculture until the available supply of American labor is adequately used. The Director also introduced a resolution, which was passed, recommending that in the recruitment and placement of foreign labor the Employment Service make maximum use of bona fide labor organizations. We submitted considerable evidence to the group showing that this had not been done in the past.

            Secretary Maurice J. Tobin of the United States Department of Labor advised us that, while he did not agree with the resolution restricting use of foreign labor, he would recommend to the President that a commission be appointed to study the economic and social problems of agricultural workers and to suggest to the President a corrective program.

            The commission was appointed by the President and made an investigation of the problem. The Director appeared at a hearing before the commission and submitted information. He also criticized the failure to name a colored member of the group. Association branches were also asked to testify at hearings in various sections of the country.[27]



            The Washington Bureau was able to eliminate segregation in the eating facilities of two veterans hospitals during the year. However, files of our office reveal many types of serious discrimination.

            We have received from Louisiana a complaint involving a training program. The complainant is a school principal who has been giving instructions to veterans for several years. His wife was dismissed from the school system when she expressed an interest in taking court action to eliminate salary differentials. Later, white school officials advised the complainant that his school for veterans would not be approved unless he forced colored persons to cease court action against the local school board. We presented this matter to the training officials of the Veterans Administration and the Department of Justice. Both agencies advised that they are at work on it.

            In November, a doctor advised the Director that the Fort Howard (Maryland) Hospital refused to accept a colored T. B. patient because no beds were available for colored persons. The Director worked with representatives of the Veterans Administration and obtained correction of this specific case. The patient was faced with an acute problem and possibly might have died if he had not been admitted to the hospital. This case and others like it remind us that the Veterans Administration has not eliminated segregation in all of its hospitals. The Veterans Administration is also guilty of numerous types of job discrimination in its hospitals.

            The Research Assistant has produced a comprehensive memorandum on discriminatory practices of the Veterans Administration. We are recommending that the Executive Secretary submit it to the President.[28]



            This summer, six swimming pools of the District of Columbia were operated on a non-segregated basis. There was no trouble. Southern members of Congress sought to get a vote on H.R. 5968 which would have transferred the pools from the Department of the Interior to the local Board of Recreation. This would have restored segregation.

            At the suggestion of the Director, President Stephen Spottswood of the D. C. Branch called a meeting for May 4, 1950, to make an all-out campaign of Congressional contacts to defeat the bill. The response was so great that the bill never reached the floor.



            The Senate passed a Home Rule Bill for the District of Columbia. The House committee for the District refused to report it out.

            The Washington Bureau sent out an urgent appeal on the District of Columbia Home Rule Bill to key branches during the Labor Day recess of Congress. The purpose of this appeal was to get branches to talk with congressmen while they were at home and urge them to sign the discharge petition which would have brought the Home Rule Bill to the floor.           

            In a surprise move, eleven members of the House withdrew their names from the discharge petition when approximately 211 of the 218 signatures needed were obtained. Congressmen Henderson Lanham of Georgia made this interesting comment in explaining why he had withdrawn his name. “I thought it would be letting the people here in for domination by the same people I had trouble with recently in the lobbying committee, a combination of Communists and Negroes.”

            Congressman Plumley of Vermont also attacked Home Rule on the ground that it would give too much power to colored people in Washington. He was soundly spanked by letters and editorials in the Vermont newspapers.[29]



            Restaurant discrimination still remains a problem in Washington. The Association has one case of its own on this subject and is cooperating on another.[30]



            Numerous routine complaints and problems must be handled in the Washington Bureau. The Research Assistant carries a great part of this load. We do not list these in this report because of its length. However, we do intend to prepare a small publication on the variety of problems before us.



            The Washington Bureau and Miss Julia Baxter of the New York office jointly prepared the voting record of congressmen and senators.[31]


            During the year, the Bureau representative filled numerous speaking engagements. The Director covered several thousand miles in travel. The Navy Department invited the Director to spend seven days as its guest in a shore establishment and at sea. However, because of the pressure of work, the Director was unable to accept. Several government agencies have asked the Director to serve on various advisory committees. He has accepted as often as he could without interfering with other duties.

                                                                            Clarence Mitchell


                                                                               Washington Bureau

100 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.

                                                                             Washington, D.C.


* The House passed the bill on 1/1/51.


MS: copy, MP.

[1]  After Mitchell concluded his presentation of this report to the NAACP annual meeting, Walter White offered the following resolution, which was adopted:

WHEREAS, there are forces at work in our country which tend to step-up their anti-Negro activities during war emergencies, thereby creating dissension and disunity, and

WHEREAS, all such elements in Birmingham, Alabama have continuously bombed homes of Negroes resulting in deaths, personal injuries and destruction of property, and

WHEREAS, the Ku Klux Klan is using force and intimidation throughout the States of Georgia and South Carolina even to the extent of stoning the home of a federal judge [J. Waties Waring*] in South Carolina who insisted on enforcing the Constitution impartially, and

WHEREAS, state law enforcement authorities in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina have demonstrated their complete unwillingness to do anything to counteract this lawlessness or to protect its citizens from such lawlessness,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Annual Meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People calls upon the Attorney General of the United States [J. Howard McGrath] to take such forthright action as will demonstrate to this lawless force, public officials of the states involved, the country and world in general, that our Government is determined to protect the lives and property of all of its citizens from lawlessness and to guarantee to all of its citizens the right to live and work unmolested by lawless elements without regard to race, creed or color. [Minutes of the NAACP Annual Meeting, 1/2/51, EC. *Kluger, Simple Justice, 301.

Judge Waring’s home in Charleston, South Carolina, was stoned following threats. On 10/6/50, White sent a telegram to McGrath urging that “all necessary and proper precautions to prevent what may be a tragedy both for the Wairings and the prestige of America” and again urged him to protect the judge and his wife. Report of the Executive Secretary, 11/13/50, EC.]

[2] See, in appendix, 12/20/51.

[3] See, among others, 7/17/50; and, in appendix, 12/31/50.

[4] The Senate passed the amended bill (S. 3295) on 12/11/50.  It tabled an amendment to deny protection of the Railway Labor Act to any union that segregated minorities or denied them membership. “But it adopted by voice vote a committee amendment specifying that no union shop agreement permitted by the bill could require union membership of persons who were denied membership or equal status in the union for any reason other than failure to pay dues and assessments.” Congress and the Nation, 588. See House action at n. 9 below; and Watson, Lion in the Lobby, 294-95.

[5] Bemoaning this loss, Mitchell, in a letter of 12/18/50 to Senator Irving M. Ives (R-NY), said that if the NAACP’s nondiscrimination amendment had passed, he said, “we would have been able to stop” the “cruel and incredible types of discrimination which result from collusive agreements between management and labor.” Since it failed, he said, civil rights forces “must continue long and costly efforts in the courts to accomplish democratic results.” He expressed his distress that Senator Scott Lucas, the majority leader, had called the amendment an FEPC bill, as others had done. “This designation was used to kill consideration of it.” Unlike FEPC legislation, which sought to protect minorities against discrimination when they sought employment, upgrading or training, he said, the amendment to the Railway Labor Act merely sought to protect workers who were already employed from being fired by unfair tactics. NAACP WB-160, DLC.

                The Senate on 12/11/50 tabled on a 64-17 roll call, the amendment that would have denied the provisions of the act to labor organizations that segregated or excluded blacks. The House rejected a similar attempt by a 61-284 roll call vote on 1/1/51. Congress and the Nation, 1618.

                See also, among others, 7/17,  8/31/50, 11/5/51.

[6] 5/18/50, Hearings, 242-309.

[7] 6/7/50, Hearings, 285-302. For the text of the statement, which also applied to the Senate hearings, see, in appendix, 6/7/50.

[8] See also 7/17, 8/31/50.

[9] See n. 4 above for Senate action. The House on 6/1/50 passed the amendment to the Railway Labor Act (S. 3295), and the president signed it into law 1/10/51.  Congress and the Nation, 500.

[10] See also, among others, 12/4/50, 4/30/53.


[11] 3/15/50, Hearings, 1928-32. See also 4/21/49, Hearings, 2144-48, and, among others, 12/21/49, 12/4/50, 4/30/53.

[12] See also, among others, 5/31/50.

[13] See 7-8/50.


[14] On 7/19/50, without opposition, the Senate confirmed William H. Hastie as a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Third Circuit Court. President Truman had announced the appointment 10/15/49. Hastie thus became the first African American to serve to serve on the Court of Appeals. A former governor of the Virgin Islands, he had been serving under a recess appointment. Opposition to his appointment, ostensively, was based on charges that he had been a member of the left-wing National Lawyers Guild and other alleged Communist front organizations. NYT, 7/18/50, 48; 7/20/50, 50; 7/21/50, 18. See also Crisis (January 1950): 20.

                The success of Hastie’s appointment resulted in part from the NAACP’s extensive mobilization of support that was led by Walter White. Report of the Secretary to the Board of Directors, 9/11/50, EC.

[15] See headnote on Struggle to Abolish the Poll Tax.

[16] Ivy, “Editors Speak on the Senate Filibuster,” Crisis (June 1950): 170-73.

[17] See Newsletter, 9/21/51, on the continuing battle over Rule XXII.


[18] Mitchell and several supporters began working to get a new FEPC executive order in July. Mitchell memorandum to Roy Wilkins, 7/17/50, NAACP II: A-257, DLC.

Key to the intensive strategy Mitchell continued to develop were his concerns that the Republicans were unlikely to pass up an opportunity to try to embarrass the President by precipitating a floor fight on some civil rights legislation, and, at the same time, withholding enough votes in the Senate to prevent final passage of such legislation. See his “Tentative Suggestions on Civil Rights Legislative Program in the 82nd Congress” that he prepared for Walter White’s review prior to distributing it to the staff for discussion, 11/28/50, in NAACP II: A-185, DLC.

[19] See, in appendix, 6/25/50.

[20] See, in appendix, 12/20/50, for a fuller report; and introduction and headnote on Struggle for Federal FEPC, for use of letter, 12/27/50, from Maurice J. Tobin to Frederick J. Lawton, director, Bureau of Budget, explaining the difference between the wartime E.O. 9346 and the proposed E.O. 10308. E.O. 10308 was issued on 12/3/51.

[21] Mitchell’s concerns were aroused by the AEC’s announcement of new production sites in Aiken and Barnwell counties, South Carolina. Press release, 11/28/50, in NAACP WB-8, DLC.

[22] See 12/4/50 for the most recent prior development, and 2/5/51 for Mitchell’s detailed report on the “‘H’-Bomb Project in South Carolina;” see also Earle Fisher’s report, 12/28/50 on the meeting by him and Mitchell with AEC officials to discuss approaches to keeping racial discrimination out of the South Carolina project in NAACP WB-8, DLC.

[23] See 12/4/50, and 2/2/51. The Army’s nine training divisions were integrated by March 1951. Morris, Integration of the Armed Forces, 1940-1965, 435-36.

[24] Minutes, 11/13/50, EC, cited at 12/4/50.

White told Marshall the NAACP was asking “that no volunteers or draftees be housed or fed in segregated establishments in the process of induction. We also ask that in the South, where privately owned establishments insist on segregation, the Armed Services be required to house and feed draftees or volunteers on military posts or in other government facilities.” He also asked for an opportunity to discuss the NAACP’s recommendations with Marshall or appropriate DOD officials he had designated. Draft of White letter to George C. Marshall, secretary of Defense, NAACP WB-141, DLC. See also, among others, 12/4/50, 1/31/51.

[25] The Legal Department and the Washington Bureau had the chief responsibility for defending accused African American GIs in the courts and in seeking legislation to protect them. In the case of Lieutenant Gilbert, the Legal Department assigned Frank Reeves, its Washington representative, to appear before the Board of Review of the Judge Advocate General’s office to represent him. For the broader implications of this case, see “Top Priority for Servicemen,” NAACP Annual Report, 1950, 20-21. For a comprehensive report on the cases in Korea and other cases that the NAACP handled, see “The Armed Services,” NAACP Annual Report, 1951, 48-53.  See also 11/3 and 12/4/50; Report of the Executive Secretary, 1/2/51, on court martial cases in Korea, in Minutes, 1/2/51, EC; and Marshall, “Summary Justice,” Crisis (May 1951): 297-304, 350-55.

Also working on these cases was Jack Greenberg, assistant special counsel, who on 1/19/51, provided Mitchell with “copies of almost all the memoranda” he had so far sent to Thurgood Marshall, NAACP special counsel, on courts martial involving blacks.

Greenberg said the NAACP’s legal department was submitting briefs in those cases in which the lawyers felt at least some appealable issue existed in the record. In all other cases, which were the great majority, the lawyers had requested that the War Department defer hearings until after Marshall’s return from Korea on the ground that the conferences between counsel and accused were necessary for the preparation of their defense. Greenberg’s letter to Mitchell, 1/19/51, MP. Based on Greenberg’s letter, for a record of these cases from Korea, see collection of the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., DLC. 

[26] See, among others, 12/4/50, 2/2/51; and, in appendix, 12/31/50.

[27] Mitchell testified on 7/13/50.

[28] See memorandum, “Unfair Racial Policies of the Veterans Administration,” from Earle Fisher to Mitchell, 12/19/50, in NAACP WB-185, DLC; and, most immediately, 12/4/50, 5/3/51.

[29] Both the NYT and Truman favored legislation to grant home rule to D.C. “Goats in Washington,” editorial, NYT, 8/16/50, 28; NYT, 8/18/50, 22. See also 5/31, 10/2/50; “Should District of Columbia Citizens Have the Right to Vote?” Senior Scholastic, 10-11.

[30] See, among others, 3/3/50.

[31] “The 81st Congress: NAACP Survey’s Its Record,” in Fair Employment Practice Committee, 1948-55, folder, NAACP IX: 67, DLC.



Report of Washington Bureau


Months of June, July and August


                                                                                                            [August 31, 1951]


Senate Rules Change


Hearings have been set for the first two weeks in October on proposed changes in the Senate rules on limitation of debate.[1] List of possible witnesses have been agreed upon in meetings with interested organizations.[2] Senator McFarland has announced that he hopes the Senate will be able to adjourn on October 1. However, this is a subject of some debate at this time and it is difficult to know whether the October 1 adjournment will actually take place. In any event, plans are going forward for the October hearings.[3]


The Housing Crisis


Housing problems of minority groups in the United States are at a critical stage.[4] The Federal Government is underwriting or supporting in various ways the building of public housing, private housing, and slum clearance programs. We have considerable evidence that in many instances the Federal Government is actually promoting the extension of racial segregation. We have prepared a statement on this which it is presumed the Secretary will bring up at the Board meeting.[5]


When S. 349, the Defense Housing Bill, was under consideration, Senators Douglas and Ives, after unsuccessfully seeking incorporation of non-segregation amendments in the Bill[6] itself, did obtain a statement in the Committee Report on the Bill concerning equality of treatment.[7] When the Bill was debated in the House, non-segregation amendments were kept off of the floor by the Administration with one exception. This exception was Congressman Javits' amendment dealing with community facilities. This amendment was defeated because it was opposed by Congressman Multer of New York. Congressman Multer argued that he had been assured by the Housing Agencies that the problem raised by Congressman Javits was being taken care of by administrative regulations.[8] Following the passage of the Bill, Congressman Multer discussed his position at length, both in correspondence and personally, with the Director of the Bureau. He stated that he was going to take the problem to the President.[9]


The Bureau prepared a memorandum for the Congressman.[10] He sent a letter to the President urging action.[11] Other Congressmen have followed suit. The Bureau has also outlined the problem to Mr. Raymond Foley, Administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Agency, by letter and in conversation. It is clear, however, the NAACP must plan some dramatic action in this field. Also, it is clear that on the basis of our legislative experience, we are the only major organization in the country that has taken an all out position against segregation in housing. There are many other organizations that agree with the principle of no segregation, but either oppose or are indifferent to the possibility of having this principle included in legislation. Therefore, it seems important that, in any action planned on the housing front, the NAACP must take the leadership, although it would be well to welcome the support of other organizations.


Armed Services


In the March Report of the Washington Bureau, we mentioned that Senators who sponsored an NAACP amendment to the Draft Bill had agreed to meet with the Department of Defense to discuss ways of speeding up integration. These Senators would not agree to place a non-segregation amendment on the floor for debate in the Draft and Universal Military Training Bill, but said that they would work for acceleration of the program of integration in the Armed Services. Six of them met at the Department of Defense on March 5, 1951. They obtained a pledge that the Universal Military Training Program would function on a non-segregated basis and they also obtained certain pledges on action to advance integration. Therefore, the recent announcement that the Army would abolish segregation in the Far Eastern Theater is one of the first concrete results of this conference.[12] The following statement from an official of the Department of Defense to one of the Senators is submitted for the Board's information:


"I feel very strongly that whatever advances have been made in the elimination of discrimination and segregation in the Army, recently, should be credited not only to officials in the Department of Defense, but also to you and the Senators who are associated with you.


"I feel, as you do, that things still remain which must be done to eliminate race and color segregation in the Army, and I am certain that every effort will be made to accomplish this desirable goal."


The Senator who received this communication felt that it would not be advisable to make it public, hence, the names of the Defense official and the Senator are not included in this written report. We have been assured that plans are under consideration for an announcement concerning integration of the Armed Services in the European Theater. Regrettably, full integration at home appears to be last on the list.[13]                                    


Anti-Violence Legislation


We have been somewhat depressed by the difficulty we have encountered in getting legislation designed to protect members of the Armed Services against assaults and physical violence introduced in the Senate.[14] The delay has been caused by factors which are beyond the control of Senator Lehman, who is the chief sponsor of this bill. Mr. Julius Edelstein of his office has done a splendid job in assuring full support of Government agencies for this bill. So far, he has obtained clearance from the Department of Defense, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Justice. The Department of Defense has promised a statement on instances in which violence occurred and also has promised to define what is meant by the word "duty," since this appears to be a matter of considerable importance in the minds of members of the Senate.


Unfortunately, Senators Wiley, Ferguson, and O'Connor who are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have not pledged that they will sponsor this legislation. Their sponsorship would do much to increase its chances of passage. We have not yet given up hope of getting them. The CIO has suggested that the bill be amended to exclude the possibility of having it apply to strike situations.


No Segregation on AEC Projects


The Atomic Energy Commission advised the Director of the Washington Bureau at a luncheon meeting that, pursuant to NAACP urging, it had instructed all contractors at Paducah and South Carolina that there would be no segregation in "cafeterias, eating facilities, wash-rooms, lavatories, etc."  This action was taken by AEC after a careful study of practices of non-segregation on several southern Army posts. Senator Maybank, according to the Augusta Chronicle, has issued a statement implying that AEC appropriations may be cut because of this action.[15]


The AEC has also advised that it was assigning one of its top employees to make a special drive for eliminating the bottlenecks which in the past have prevented qualified colored people from getting skilled jobs with AEC or its various contractors. This official was also present at the luncheon. At the Bureau's request, the AEC confirmed its non-segregation policy in writing. It was also agreed that a meeting on problems of South Carolina employment and other matters would be held in that state with AEC officials on September 17. This meeting has been arranged.[16]


The Director of the Washington Bureau wishes to point out that the mere adoption of a policy does not assure that there will be absolutely no segregation on the project. However, with this policy in hand, the Association can police these projects effectively and stamp out segregation. The value of such a program cannot be over estimated. Also, such effective legal action as can be undertaken will help to make the AEC operations in the South a model of industrial activity.[17]


Cox Resolution


Congressman Cox of Georgia has introduced H. Res. 364 which provides for an investigation of foundations that to quote him have "disbursed funds irresponsibly to aid organizations which made a profession of stirring up class and race dissention throughout the South."[18] The list of persons cited by Cox as Communist fronters includes Dr. Ira D. Reid and Miss Lillian Smith. This resolution has been reported out by the Rules Committee. Apparently, Cox brought it up at a time when members pledged to oppose it were not present. Unfortunately, these members have been very non-committal on whether they were actually at the meeting which, of course, was closed.


Both Congressman Dawson and Majority Leader, John McCormack, have pledged their opposition to this resolution. At the time this report is written, we have not yet obtained a commitment from Minority Leader, Joseph Martin, although we are still seeking it. We have placed the problem before him and hope that he will pledge opposition to the Resolution. The House will return for business on September 12. At that time, Cox may seek to bring up this Resolution and we are urging all liberal Congressmen to be on hand to defeat it.


Jim-Crow in VA Hospitals


In the May report, we pointed out that H. R. 314, Congressman Rankin's Jim-Crow Hospital Bill was on the calendar for action in the House. We are glad to report that this measure was defeated by a vote of 223 to 117.[19] Some indication of what conditions would be like if the bill had passed is given by a case we have received from Alabama. In this situation, a veteran who was in need of treatment in Montgomery, Alabama, was sent to Tuskegee for treatment because that was "the facility for colored veterans" although there was a hospital within four miles of his home. The hospital at Tuskegee is forty miles from his home.


We have taken this matter up with the Veterans Administration and, although we have received one report from Admiral J. T. Boone, Chief Medical Director of the Veterans Administration, we are not satisfied with it and we are taking further action.


Another illustration of the constant Jim-Crow tendencies in the Veterans hospitals has come from the institution located at Kecoughtan, Virginia. Here, the local officials of the hospital placed a sign over a door leading to the dining-room designating it as a colored entrance. We received an anonymous complaint on this and promptly took action. The hospital authorities demurred, but finally removed the sign.[20]


Maritime Employment


In a number of our reports, we have mentioned the consistent work which has been done by Mr. Fisher of the Washington Bureau staff on problems of colored officers in the Maritime industry. A small reward has come through his efforts in that the Merchant Vessel Booker T. Washington has been restored to active service and one of the colored officers who has been a complainant has been hired by the Luckenbach Steamship Company which operates the ship.[21]


Mr. Fisher's plan of action, however, includes a much more extensive attack on this problem. He has advised the Maritime Administration of the Department of Commerce that "Articles 1, 2, and 12 of the General Agency Agreement between the Administration and the ship operators place sufficient power and authority in the National Shipping Authority to insist and demand that the agent shipping companies discontinue immediately their denial of employment to colored Merchant Marine officers solely because of race."  Mr. Fisher indicates that there are 160 ships taken out of the "lay up" fleet because of Government demands. These vessels have openings for nearly one thousand officers.


Other Employment Facts


As we gear up for the defense program, there is continuing evidence for the need of national fair employment practice machinery.[22] In our report of May 1951, we mentioned that the employment service in the City of Baltimore has been guilty of extensive discrimination in making referrals to Government agencies. An investigation of these complaints has shown that the local employment service received over a hundred discriminatory requests from Government agencies. This report was promptly squelched by state officials who sent, instead, a statement to Washington that they had found no discrimination.[23]


The national office of the employment service, at our request, has been negotiating with officials of the Capital Transit Company to obtain agreement that colored people will be employed as platform operators. So far, no favorable results have been reported. We have also been granted time to oppose a fare increase requested by the Capital Transit Company before the Public Utilities Commission on September 24.[24]


We have received reports of discrimination from Ford plants in Norfolk, Virginia, and Chicago, Illinois. It appears that in these cases cooperation of the contracting agencies and the United Automobile Workers may produce some favorable results. On the other hand, the Caterpillar Tractor Company of Peoria, Illinois, engaged in extensive recruitment in Alabama, but, although it used the facilities of the employment service in Illinois and Alabama, refused to take any colored applicants. The Illinois Employment Service has said it is powerless to halt this kind of discrimination.


The Bendix Aviation Corporation Plant in Kansas City, Missouri, which is working on an Atomic Energy Commission contract, refused to employ colored girls who applied for jobs as clerk typists. The complainants left the establishment, and, on calling over the telephone, were told that there were plenty of openings. Apparently, the employer thought that the telephone callers were white. This matter has been placed before the Atomic Energy Commission and the Bendix Aviation Corporation Plant by the Washington Bureau.[25]


A great many other complaints of this kind are coming into our office and we are seeking to obtain some adjustments with the help of the contracting agencies. However, these complaints emphasize the fact that discrimination is still with us in spite of the high level of employment and numerous improvements in various parts of the country.


We have been advised that the legislative difficulties that the President has encountered on various parts of his program have effectively prevented issuance of an executive order on fair employment practice. However, it appears that the possibility of getting such an order is not entirely lost.[26]


Lodge-Gossett Resolution


Congressman Gossett of Texas has resigned from Congress, but his H. J. Res. 19, which eliminates the electoral college, has been reported out of the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. In the Senate, this Resolution is sponsored by Senator Lodge of Massachusetts.[27] We have been advised that these actions were taken as a kind of farewell present to Congressman Gossett. However, we are making plans for conducting a floor fight, as we did successfully in the House last year, if it is necessary. Senator Lodge discussed his position on this with us.[28] It is as follows:


1:         He did not seek action in the Senate Judiciary Committee and was out of town at           the time the measure was reported out of committee. He will not seek favorable         action on it unless it is passed by the House.


2:         If the House passes the Resolution, he will give us another opportunity to argue the merits of our opposition before he seeks action on the floor.


Chickland Cafe


During the Month of July, the proprietor of a night club known as the Chickland Cafe decided to open the establishment for colored patrons in an effort to boost his business. This cafe is located at Capitol Heights in Maryland, just across the District line. Although the proprietor expected to attract colored business mainly, he also admitted white patrons. This action resulted in mob violence and the destruction of his property by white residents in the town of Capitol Heights. Extensive reports have been written on this incident and recommendations for action have been made. It is clear that the hoodlums who caused the trouble had also caused trouble when the establishment was operated for white patrons only. Apparently, these elements had the full support of the local law enforcement officers in Capitol Heights.


Birmingham Killing


The Director of the Washington Bureau accompanied Mr. Emory O. Jackson to a meeting in the Department of Justice for the purpose of seeking action on numerous police killings in Birmingham and Alabama. Mr. Jackson submitted information showing that since 1948 the Alabama police have murdered 52 colored people. Twenty-six of these killings occurred in the City of Birmingham. Peyton Ford, Deputy Attorney General, has advised that the Department of Justice is investigating these complaints. Mr. Ford has since resigned from the Department, but it appears that the investigation is continuing.[29]


The National Airport


Being mindful of the fact that, when the national airport was being constructed, plans to have a segregated arrangement for handling colored passengers were perfected with the acquiescence of the Department of Commerce, we have asked Secretary Charles Sawyer to give assurance that the new airport which will be built at Burke, Virginia, will not have segregated facilities. Secretary Sawyer stated that "it will be a long while before there will be any need to face the problem of segregation at the Burke Airport. We will not have acquired the property for many months and after that many other things must be done before it will be in operation. I can assure you, however, that so far as it lies within my power there will be no segregation permitted."


Railroad Jim-Crow


We have received a complaint from a passenger on the Atlantic Coast Line who charges that the railroad forced her to sit in a Jim-Crow coach, although numerous seats were available in modern coaches set aside for white people. We have taken this matter up with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.[30]


Recreation Suits


Residents in the vicinity of the Rosedale playground in Washington have asked the Washington Bureau to act in their behalf because colored children are barred from play. Nearly one hundred parents signed a petition requesting action.[31] At a meeting with representatives of the parents, Mr. Frank Reeves, Chairman of the Washington Branch Legal Redress Committee and other citizens, plans were made for legal action. Mr. Reeves has filed one suit on behalf of another group of parents in another area and plans similar action on behalf of the parents in the Rosedale area.


Friends of the Association have prepared a very impressive letter for the signature of the Director of the Washington Bureau setting forth the legal arguments on why the Commissioners in the District of Columbia have ample authority to end segregation in all play areas. This document, which was four pages in length, has been submitted to the Commissioners of the District.[32] Mr. Fisher also appeared on behalf of the Association and made a presentation at a public hearing held by the District Commissioners. The action of the Bureau is designed to supplement the action of the Washington NAACP Branch.



The date 8/31/51 is assigned for editorial purposes.

[1] In his 2/2/51 report, Mitchell presented the legislative picture in the House and Senate. But until he could remove the filibuster roadblock, passage of civil rights legislation was nothing but a dream. His 6/21/51 revised report to Walter White on the “Status of Civil Rights Legislation in the 82nd Congress” reinforced his concern about the comprehensive picture:


To date, 40 bills and two resolutions on Civil Rights have been introduced in the House. These include three worthless compromise measures offered by Congressmen Hayes of Arkansas and Rogers of Florida.


In the Senate, there are seven civil rights bills and three resolutions on this subject. Senator Lehman and others have introduced an anti-filibuster resolution which is, of course, the key to passing Civil Rights legislation in the Senate.


The bills introduced in the House include four submitted to Congress by the Department of Justice. They are H.R. 28, the Anti-Lynching Bill; H.R. 29, the Omnibus Civil Rights Bill; H.R. 1320, which would eliminate the Poll Tax, and a new Bill, H.R. 2118. H.R. 2118 proposed to amend Sections 1581, 1583, and 1584 of Title 18, U.S. Code, so as to prohibit attempts to commit the offenses therein proscribed (slavery and peonage). All of these bills have been introduced in the House. On June 25, Senator Humphrey will introduce these in the Senate.


It is important to note that five FEPC bills have been introduced in the House. However, their fate is sealed because they have been referred to the Labor Committee headed by Barden of North Carolina. The Senate Bill would be given friendly committee consideration, but there is the filibuster hurdle to be overcome.


Other Civil Rights legislation proposed includes Abolition of Segregation on Common Carriers, no discrimination in the National Health Insurance Program, no discrimination in Educational Finance; Fair Housing Practices, and Equal Rights Act for the District of Columbia.


Congressman Clifford Case of New Jersey and Franck Havenner of California have introduced bills to protect members of the Armed Serivces against assault and other violence at the hands of civilians or peace officers. A similar bill is being prepared for introduction in the Senate. [6/21/51 memorandum to Walter White, in NAACP WB-163, DLC.]

See NAACP Washington Bureau Newsletter, 9/21/51, on Senate Cloture Rule in appendix; 10/4, 11/5, 23/5, 12/25/51; editorial, “Still No FEPC,” The Crisis (June-July, 1951), 395; Report of the Secretary, September 1951; Mitchell’s article, “These are the Issues,” in The Crisis (October 1952), 483-486, and Watson, Lion in the Lobby, 166-70.

[2] Pressing Mitchell to seek changes in the cloture rule was that, as he reported to Walter White, 40 civil rights bills and two resolutions had been introduced in the House. They included four submitted by the Department of Justice. They were H.R. 28, the Anti-lynching Bill; H.R. 29, the Omnibus Civil Rights Bill; H.R. 1320, to eliminate the poll tax, and a new bill, H.R. 2118, to amend Sections 1581, 1583, and 1584 of Title 18, U.S. Code, which barred slavery and peonage. He said Senator Humphrey would introduce these bills in the Senate. Mitchell memorandum, 6/21/51, to White, NAACP WB-163, DLC.

[3] See 10/4, 11/5, 12/5, and 12/28/51 reports for his subsequent efforts in this struggle.

[4] Drawing on a speech by Robert C. Weaver at the National Conference on Discrimination in Housing, 5/20/52, Walter White noted for the NAACP Board that between 1935 and 1950, while approximately 2,761,000 dwelling units were built under the FHA insurance program, no more that 50,000 of them were available to nonwhites. White memorandum, 6/3/52, to NAACP Board, 6/9/52, MP. See also statement of the Southern Regional Council on “Blighted Housing and Bomb Violence” in Report of the Secretary for May, 6/9/52, EC.

See also 3/5, 4/4, 12/5, 12/28/51; in appendix, 2/21/51; Crosby, “America’s Segregated Cities,” 82-94.

[5] See 3/5, 4/4, 12/5, 12/28/51; amendments sought by Mitchell before the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, 2/20/51, Hearing, 477-81; Minutes, 9/10/51, EC.

[6] 2/20/51, Hearings, 477-90. S. 349 was enacted as the Defense Housing and Community Facility and Services Act of 1951, which Truman signed on 9/1/51. The law authorized $50,000,000 for government-constructed defense housing, set aside $1.5 billion in FHA mortgage insurance for privately financed housing in defense areas, and extended the VA direct loan program to 7/1/53. Congress and the Nation, 483-484.

[7] Defense Housing and Community Facilities Development Act of 1951. Report of the Committee on Banking and Currency, S. 349, 3/21/51, 82 Cong., 1st sess. S. Rpts.  v. 2, 41.  See 12/28/51 for expanded comments on the committee’s report.

[8] But, the NAACP would insist, the policy set forth by Raymond Foley, HHFA administrator, in a letter of 11/26/51 to Multer clearly permitted continued segregation. See also 2/6/51. 

[9] On 8/15/51, the House passed S. 349 in substantially the same form as the Senate had approved it. CQ Weekly Report, 8/17/51, 1231-2; the House agreed to the Conference report on 8/21/51. CQ Weekly Report, 8/24/51, 1268.

[10] Mitchell said the real reason for Multer’s opposition was an off-the-record agreement among congressmen that southern supporters of the bill should not be “embarrassed” by having to vote for it with favorable language on racial matters included in it. NAACP press release 8/16/51, NAACP II: A-208, DLC. See also 12/28/51.

[11] Mitchell recommended to Truman that he issue “to the responsible Federal agencies an Executive Order governing the administration of Titles II and III of the Defense Housing and Communities Facilities Act of 1951” that would be designed to end the glaring discrimination problems in the federal housing program. Minutes, 9/1/51, EC.

[12] On 7/1/51 General Ridgway received a message from the Department of the Army approving “deactivation of the 24th Infantry and your general plan of integration of Negroes into all units (with the temporary exception of the 40th and 45th Divisions).” MacGregor, Integration of the Armed Forces, 444.

See 3/5/51, where Mitchell reported on the introduction of an amendment to S. 1, the UMT bill and on the conference of the sponsors with DOD officials.

[13] See also, among others, 11/5, 12/28/51; and materials in NAACP II: A-656, DLC.

[14] Mitchell reported that:

        Protection for members of the Armed Services against assaults and other violence is provided in two bills, H.R. 4301 and H.R. 4442 in the House. Senator Lehman and others will introduce a similar bill in the Senate.

        H.R. 4301 was introduced by Congressman Franck Havenner (D., Cal.), May 31, 1951. H.R. 4442 was introduced by Congressman Clifford Case (R., N.J.), June 13, 1951.

        The proposed legislation extends to members of the Armed Services the protection given to members of the Coast Guard and other Federal officials under sections 1114 and 111 of title 18, U.S. Code. These sections of the U.S. Code impose heavy fines and other penalties on persons who commit stated offenses against Federal officers.

        In March, when the Universal Military Training Legislation was before the Senate, the NAACP sponsored an anti-violence amendment offered by Senator Herbert Lehman (D., N.Y.).

        In April, when this legislation reached the House for action, the amendment was sponsored by Congressman Franck Havenner. On both occasions, the anti-violence amendments were defeated. Many members said, however, that they would support it as separate legislation.

        Mrs. Anna M. Rosenberg, Assistant to the secretary of Defense, has assured the Director of the Washington Bureau that the Department of Defense will support the legislation. The Department of Defense stated in a letter to the Director,

“There has been no change in our belief that such a bill is desirable to extend to Army, Navy, and Air Force officers and enlisted men the same type of protection that is afforded by law to other classes of Federal officers.” [7/25/51, Newsletter, MP.]

[15] It is not clear whether the luncheon meeting was the one Mitchell reported in a 7/16/51memorandum that he had with AEC officials on 7/5. However, he reported that at the 7/5 meeting, discussion also involved protections from dismissal of any AEC employee who filed a lawsuit challenging segregation at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Mitchell memorandum to Thurgood Marshall, 7/16/51, NAACP WB-8, DLC. See also 2/5/51 and other references cited there.

[16] At the bottom of the “Suggested Agenda” for the 9/17 meeting was the notation that the meeting was actually held 12/14/51. NAACP WB-8, DLC. Mitchell noted on the agenda that he had included an excerpt from the 1951 Senate Hearings on the Defense Housing Act, S. 349, the full report of which can be found in 2/20/51, Hearings, 477-81. For Mitchell’s earlier notes on his activities related to the hearings on the Defense Housing Act, see 3/5, and 4/4/51 reports. See also 2/2, 3/5, 5/3, 8/31, and 12/28/51.

                Mitchell actually visited South Carolina on September 17, but, according to the memorandum he submitted to Thurgood Marshall, he did so to collect evidence for proposed legal action challenging job discrimination at the AEC’s Savannah River works. Based on the information Mitchell had provided, Constance Baker Motley, a member of Marshall’s legal staff, said it appeared that the DuPont Company had a closed shop agreement with the unions involved. Such agreements, she said, violated the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 (Taft-Hartley Act) and therefore could only have been oral agreements. Mitchell’s memorandum, 9/20/51, and Motley’s analysis of 1128/51 are in NAACP WB-8, DLC.

[17] See Mitchell’s 7/16/51 memorandum to Marshall informing him of his discussion with AEC officials about possible lawsuits; his 9/20/51 memorandum on “Proposed Legal Action at Savannah River Works of Atomic Energy Commission.” Marshall evidently assigned the matter to Constance Baker Motley of his staff. See her memorandum of 11/28/51 to Mitchell analyzing data gathered by him on 9/17 on AEC discrimination in South Carolina. These materials, as well as others from the NUL regarding similar problems in the tri-city area of Pasco-Kennewick-Richland (Washington state), are in NAACP WB-8, DLC. See 12/4, 12/21/50, 2/2, 3/5, and 5/3/51 reports for earlier developments. 

[18] See 11/5, 12/28/51, 5/8/, 6/5, and 12/31/52; and, in appendix, Newsletter, 5/28/52, and 7/52.

[19] See CQ, 1951; Watson, Lion in the Lobby, 207; materials in NAACP WB-185, DLC.

[20] See, among others, 5/3, 12/28/51.

[21] See also 4/30/48.

[22] Both the NAACP and the National Council for a Permanent FEPC marked the tenth anniversary of Roosevelt’s war-time FEPC by noting that June 25, the first anniversary of the Korean War, was also a time to assess the impact of the continuing problem of racial discrimination in employment. See materials in NACP II: A-257, DLC..

[23] See also, among others, 5/3/51.


[24] See 2/2, 5/3/51.


[25] See report on other AEC problems elsewhere in this report.


[26] See 12/28/51.


[27] See also, among others, 3/3/50, 5/3, 6/4, 12/28/51.

[28] This battle was resumed formally on 4/27/51, when Mitchell wrote 15 congressmen to express his disappointment that he had learned that H.J. Res. 19, the revived Lodge-Gossett Resolution, seemed to have the approval of a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. He explained that the NAACP had consistently opposed it because it would increase the influence of southern states in national elections. The letter and other materials are in the “Lodge-Gossett” folder, NAACP WB-126, DLC.

A companion report by Mitchell was as follows:

        Congressman Ed Gossett of Texas is leaving the House of Representatives on July 31. As a going away present, the members of the House Judiciary Committee reported out (by voice vote [where votes were not recorded], of course) his anti-Negro and anti-Semitic H.J. Res. 19.

        This Resolution abolished the electoral college in national elections, but does not penalize southern states for denying the ballot to colored voters. The net effect would be to give the South greater power in national elections.

        The NAACP worked to defeat this measure in the 81st Congress and won by a vote of 210 to 134. As soon as the 82nd Congress got started, Gossett was right back with his proposal.

        He said himself that, if it becomes law, the major parties would not have to include FEPC in their platforms to win votes in Harlem. He also said that it would reduce the influence of New York Jews in national elections.”

It would be a good idea to ask the following members of the House Rules Committee to vote against H.J. Res. 19 when it comes before that group:

Congressman  Hugh B. Mitchell

Congressman James J. Delaney

Congressman Ray J. Madden

Congressman Adolph J. Sabath

Congressman Leo E. Allen

Congressman Clarence J. Brown

Congressman Henry J. Latham

Congressman Harris Ellsworth

Also, let your Congressman know that you want him to oppose it if it reaches the floor. [Newsletter, 7/21/51, MP. For a companion report, see 5/29/51 in appendix.]

For Mitchell’s summary of the first phase of this struggle, see 12/21/50; in appendix, 2/50, 5/29/51. 

[29] The report, 7/3/51, provided by the Birmingham NAACP branch, was as follows:

        Through 1948, peak of the Dixiecrat Revolt in the South and the Mid-Year of 1951, there were listed 52 Negro citizens in Alabama killed by law enforcement officers. This list may not be complete because there was no scientific way to keep a true listing of all the violence in this area. But those police-slayings listed in this report, taken from newspaper clippings and NAACP reports, is fairly accurate.

        Of this 52 police-slayings, 26 were in the City of Birmingham. In another view, 35 of these 52 police-caused ddeaths were in Jefferson County or the Birmingham area. All 14 of the police-killings listed for 1948 were in Jefferson County. This was the year the Dixiecrat Revolt was organized in July of 1948 at the City Auditorium one hot Saturday.

        Most of these slayings by Law Enforcement Officers were ruled “justifiable homicide.” In Birmingham, a police officer was indicted, tried and freed by a jury in 1949. In 1948 a Negro slew a deputy sheriff and in turn was killed by sheriff deputies.

        Presumably, there has not been a careful study made of this area of violence over the past four years.
This report is hardly more than loose listing of those reported cases of violent deaths in which law enforcement officers have been involved. [NAACP II: A-656, DLC.]

Another report, “Mob Violence, Lawlessness and Law Enforcement,” noted that: “There was no decline during 1950 from the high level of racial violence noted in 1949. While there were no killings which fell within the technical definition of deaths by lynching as compared with three lynchings in 1949 and one in 1948, there were nine attempted lynchings and a large number of other forms of violence stemming from racial or religious bigotry.” The organized effort to get legal action to end this violence was led by Ruby Hurley, NAACP Southeast regional coordinator whose office was then in Birmingham.

At the national level, the legal department, led by Thurgood Marshall, special counsel, handled these complaints. As Mitchell said to Marshall, “Where questions or problems to be referred to the Justice Department do not involve legal technical problems, I shall prepare correspondence for your signature and send it to New York.” Mitchell’s goal was to avoid duplication of action. Mitchell’s letter to Marshall, 7/23/51. See also “Minutes of May 15, 1952, Meeting at Birmingham to Discuss Ways of Reducing Violence in the South Arising from Racial and Religious Tension,” and other materials in NAACP WB-189, DLC.

This violence was the newest form in the South that caused the NAACP to continue pushing for antilyincing legislation in Congress and other protections from the Department of Justice. See also, for example, 5/8/52.

[30] See headnote on Struggle Against Jim Crow Travel.

[31] Mitchell came to the conclusion that a lawsuit was the only remaining alternative to getting the local D.C. government to end segregation at the playgrounds after Milo F. Christiansen wrote informing him that the Recreation Board’s policy was “to make every possible and realistic effort toward the removal of racial segregation in public recreation in such sequence and at such rate of progression as may be consistent with the public interest, public order and effective administration.” Mitchell forwarded a copy of the letter to Robert Carter, NAACP assistant special counsel, with the recommendation that “it seems time that we entered a lawsuit against the Board.” Next, he organized a meeting of interested D.C. residents at the Washington Bureau to plan the lawsuit.  Christiansensen’s letter to Mitchell; 5/3/51; Mitchell’s letter to Carter, 5/8/51, and other materials are in NAACP IX 226, DLC.

[32] A copy of the letter of 7/19/51 is in NAACP WB-59, DLC.




                                    [December 31, 1952]



            The Washington Bureau, under the direction of Clarence Mitchell, acts as the eyes and ears of the NAACP in the executive chambers and legislative halls of our federal government. Alert to all legislative and proposed legislation, it constantly advances the position of the Association that civil rights of minority groups must be safeguarded in any and all bills. Testimony on behalf of the NAACP is presented at countless hearings before committees and subcommittees and the Bureau works closely with executive agencies handling the administration of the laws. In this time of intense defense activity, the Bureau is increasingly active in combating discrimination in areas of activity involving defense production, the armed forces, the Veterans Administration, Atomic Energy Commission, and all other federal agencies.


The Filibuster Remains


            As the year drew to a close, the chief weapon in the battle of the diehard obstructionists against passage of civil rights bills--the filibuster--had still not been conquered.[1]


            On January 29, 1952, after hearings held at the urging of the NAACP and other organizations, the Senate Rules Committee reported out S. Res. 203, least effective of all the anti-filibuster resolutions that the group considered.[2] Introduced by Senator Wherry of Nebraska (now deceased), S Res. 203 provides that two-thirds of the senators present and voting shall be required to invoke cloture. It also changes the voting date on the cloture petition from the “following calendar day but one” to the “fifth calendar day but one.”


            Senator Lehman and others offered a plan that would permit a majority of senators present and voting to limit debate after fourteen days of filibustering. Even  thereafter, senators could still talk one hour each or a total of an additional 96 hours. Senators not wishing to use their time could give it to others. The Lehman proposal, S. Res. 105, also permits limitation of debate after forty-eight hours of filibustering, but only if two thirds of the Senators present and voting agree. Moreover, it would halt filibusters against rules changes.


            Senator Ives also had a resolution before the rules committee. The Ives resolution requires 49 votes to halt a filibuster. As submitted to the committee the Ives proposal did not require a change in that part of the present senate rule limiting debate (Rule 22,) which permits unlimited filibuster against any proposals to change the rules. In the majority report, submitted by Senator Jenner of Indiana, the hearings were described as the most extensive of any on this subject. Senator William Benton, who served as chairman of the committee during the hearings, prepared a minority report. Senator Francis Green joined him in saying: “We favor Senate Resolution 105. This would give the Senate a means by which it could operate effectively in an emergency, where time is of the essence, and also permit it to follow a procedure to handle needed legislation other then that of urgent character where time need not be calculated in terms of hours.” Other objections to S. Res. 203 were noted by Senators William C. Hendrickson and Henry Cabot Lodge. The committee report was placed on the Senate calendar but Congress  adjourned without taking action on it. The Senate is therefore still operating on the rule adopted by the 81st Congress, requiring the votes of two-thirds of the Senate membership, or 64 Senators, to break a filibuster.[3]


FEPC Hearings


            The only committee of Congress that held a hearing on civil rights bills in 1952 was the Senate Labor Committee. The NAACP worked very closely with Senator Humphrey, chairman of the subcommittee that conducted the hearings. The Executive Secretary testified for the Association.[4] During these hearings Senator Humphrey and Senator Ives developed a bill (S. 3368) which would establish an FEPC with enforcement powers. The agency carrying out the program would be called the “Equality of Opportunity in Employment Commission.” This bill was reported favorably by the Senate Labor Committee and placed on the calendar.[5]


            It would establish a Committee to handle fair employment problems and would cover firms engaged in interstate commerce and employing fifty or more persons. The commission could issue directives, enforceable by federal courts to halt discrimination in employment. There is also a new provision which permits, but does not require, the commission to cede jurisdiction to FEPC bodies in states with laws that the commission considers adequate.

            The Congress adjourned without taking action on the bill; however, two very valuable reports were issued as a result of the hearing, one on State and Municipal Fair Employment Legislation and the other on Employment and Economic Status of Negroes in the United States.[6]


No Specific Civil Rights Bills


            During the 82nd Congress there were many discussions on possible civil rights action, but in each case opponents of civil rights refused to permit bills to come to the floor unless they were emasculated. Thus there was no action on specific bills on FEPC, anti-lynching,[7] anti-poll tax,[8] or anti-Jim Crow travel.[9] Bills to give Alaska and Hawaii statehood and to establish home rule in the District of Columbia were killed. Fortunately, there also died a resolution which would abolish the electoral college in presidential elections and give greater power to the South in the naming of presidential candidates.[10]


            The McCarran-Walter Immigration bill passed Congress over the President’s veto. This legislation is extremely complicated and contains numerous passages which discriminate against immigrants on the basis of race and nationality. However, some of those who supported this bill felt that it contained benefits for certain groups in which they were interested.[11]


Cox Committee


            Using his power on the Rules Committee, the late Congressman Cox of Georgia succeeded in getting a resolution passed on April 4th, providing for an investigation of foundations and organizations to determine whether they are “stirring up class and race distinction throughout the South.” The vote was 194 to 158.[12] This committee got $75,000 with which to operate and held hearings which produced nothing particularly new on foundations and charitable organizations. Representative Brooks Hays of Arkansas succeeded to the chairmanship of the committee upon the death of Mr. Cox.[13]


            The Executive Secretary and the Director of the Washington Bureau sought inclusion of language in the Mutual Security Bill which would assure dependent overseas territories of Point IV assistance in public health, industrial production, economic development and agriculture. The NAACP supported an amendment covering Western Hemisphere countries that was adopted. The net effect of these changes in the law is more direct assistance to colonies in becoming self-sufficient. The Director and the Executive Secretary discussed the problem at considerable length with Congressman Vorys of Ohio before he inserted these changes.[14]


Union Shop Agreements in the Railway Industry


            When the Railway Labor Act was amended to permit union shop agreements in the industry, the Washington Bureau asked that adequate safeguards be included against discrimination by unions that deny membership to Negroes on the basis of race or shunt them into Jim Crow unions.

            Congress included some language to this effect, although it was not as strong as that recommended by the NAACP. The first test of the effectiveness of this language came in Baltimore, Md., when employees of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad refused to join a Jim Crow local of the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks. When the matter was taken into court by the Baltimore Branch, union officials promised under oath that Negroes would not be required to join a separate local as a condition of remaining on the job. The employer also said that none of the Negro employees would be dismissed because they refused to join a Jim Crow local. The plaintiffs in the case were denied membership in the white local, but no effort has been made to dismiss them. Two other Negroes were admitted to the white local but “old guard” employees have continued to maintain the Jim Crow local.


            At the end of the year a similar case involving Negro employees of the Washington Terminal and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen, the recognized union, was pending. Negro employees refused to join the union’s Jim Crow auxiliary and sought the aid of the Washington Bureau in resisting discharge by the Terminal.[15]


Voting Records


            To justify its position as the Association’s eyes and ears in Washington, the Bureau carefully checks the records of all representative and senators. Sometimes in an election year the cry of partisanship is raised by those who have bad records or by their selfish supporters. However, the favorable comments outnumber the unfavorable.

            This year the Bureau prepared narrative records for each state, including each man’s record sine 1948. Also included was information on sponsorship of good or bad legislation. Compilation of these records was done largely by William Pryor, assistant to the director. In some instances the record cause senators and representatives to make pledges clarifying previously vague positions on civil rights questions.


            The Director found these records useful in visits to various states during the election campaign. The records also played an important part in the register and vote campaign.[16]


The Transition Period


            When a new President moves into the White House many valuable programs get lost or delayed because of uncertainties surrounding their future. The Executive Secretary and board members met with General Eisenhower in November for top level commitments on civil rights. As a follow-up the Director of the Washington Bureau submitted a memorandum to Senator Lodge for consideration by President-elect Eisenhower.[17] Senator Lodge at that time was serving in a liaison capacity between General Eisenhower and the executive agencies of government.


            The memorandum asked:


1. That the new administration give early assurance that the functions of the Fair Employment Board established in the U. S. Civil Service Commission by Executive Order No. 9980 will be continued and fully implemented to prevent discrimination in federal employment.


2. That the Committee on Government Contract Compliance be continued and

strengthened. This committee, set up by Executive Order No. 10,308, was established to obtain compliance with the non-discrimination clause in all government contracts. Until a Federal FEPC is established by law, this group will fill an important place in assuring minority groups of fair treatment by employers holding government contracts.[18]


The NAACP gave the leadership to the movement which resulted in the setting up of the Fair Employment Board[19] and the Contract Compliance Committee.[20] An NAACP complaint resulted in a board decision establishing the principles that appointing officers must be able to prove that all appointments made in accordance with the Civil Service “rule of three” are made solely on the basis of merit and fitness and that the appointment of members of minority groups on a quota or percentage basis is not in accordance with selection on the basis of merit and fitness.


3. That segregation in schools maintained on military posts for the children of military personnel be halted and that the Navy policy of allowing local commanders to establish segregation facilities for civilian workers in shore establishments be rescinded.[21]


4. That the policy of the Housing and Home Finance Agency of giving federal assistance to segregated private and public housing be stopped by executive action, to bring federal policies in line with decisions of the U. S. Supreme Court.


5. That the U. S. Department of State continue the employment of a consultant to help identify and eliminate the factors that have prevented the employment and upgrading of qualified Negroes and members of other minority groups.[22]


Other Activities


            Other activities of the Washington Bureau included the handling of problems with the Atomic Energy Commission,[23] the Veterans Administration,[24] discrimination in certain private companies,[25] and segregation in airports.[26]


            The Director visited approximately twenty states during the year for speaking engagements or other Association business. He continued a weekly newspaper column for the Washington edition of the Afro-American and contributed articles to The Crisis and the Nation magazines.


MS: NAACP Annual Report, 1952, 15-20. 

[1] See headnote on NAACP and the Filibuster.

[2] 10/2/51, Hearings, 34-63.

[3] In preparation for another attempt to change the filibuster rule on the opening day of Congress in 1/53, Mitchell and Walter White held three meetings with a number of senators in 12/52 to develop strategy, but those attempts, too, failed. Mitchell letter on the meetings to White, 12/22/1952, and NAACP Washington Bureau telegram to a group of NAACP leaders, 12/31/52, stating the Senators Ives and Lehman would make bi-partisan effort to end filibusters when Congress opened on 1/2/53 and urging them to organize support, both in NAACP WB-111, DLC. See also 6/15/53 for Mitchell’s report on the failure of the attempts in January.

[4] White, with Mitchell, 4/17/52, Hearings, 141-61. See also 2/4/53.

[5] “The only Congressional action on civil rights in 1952 was approval by Senate committees of FEPC legislation and of a proposal to relax the Senate cloture rule. Neither was debated on the floor.” Congress and the Nation, 1619. CQ Weekly Report, 4/11/52, 351; 4/18/52, 371; 4/25/52, 394; 5/9/52, 455; 7/5/52, 710.

[6] The introductory note to the Employment and Economic Status report explained that the material was culled from, a wide variety  of sources to highlight the major facts. Two general facts seemed to emerge, it noted. The first was that in almost every significant economic and social characteristic that could be measured – including length of life, education, employment, and income – African Americans, as a whole, were less well off than white citizens. The second was that in almost every characteristic the differences between the two groups had narrowed in recent years. Employment and Economic Status of Negroes in the United States, Staff Report to the Subcommittee on Labor and Labor-Management Relations of the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare. U.S. Senate, 82nd Congress, 2nd sess., 2/18/53.

                For the second report, the introductory note explained that this and others that would be issued were designed to contribute to the understanding of the problems that  impelled the subcommittee and the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare to recommend for favorable action the federal equal opportunity for employment bill and to promote reasoned and informed attitudes toward that measure.  State and Municipal Fair Employment Legislation, Staff Report to the the Subcommittee on Labor and Labor-Management Relations of the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare. U.S. Senate, 82nd Congress, 2nd sess., 2/20/53. The chairman of the Subcommittee on Labor and Labor-Management Relations was Hubert H. Humphrey.

Mitchell’s optimism that prospects for early consideration of FEPC legislation in the 83rd Congress appeared “very bright” was based on his conversations with senators and representatives and a pledge from Sen. Robert A. Taft that he was contemplating holding hearings on the Taft-Hartley law as soon as the Senate was organized, but after that he knew of nothing would take priority over FEPC. NAACP WB press release, 12/10/52, NAACP WB-111, DLC. See also headnotes on Struggle for Federal FEPC and Struggle for State FEPCs.

[7] See headnote on NAACP Struggle for an anti-Lynching Law.

[8] See headnote on Struggle to Abolish the Poll Tax.

[9] See headnote on the Struggle against Jim Crow Travel.

[10] See, among others, 12/28/51; and, in appendix, 2/28/50.

[11] See, most immediately, 6/5/52; in appendix, 5/28/52, 6/3/52, 9/30/52; NYT, 1/11/53, 4-E.

[12] See 5/8, 6/5/52 for earlier developments.

[13] See, among others, 6/5/52; in appendix, 7/31/52.

[14] Congress passed the Mutual Security Act of 1952 on 5/28/52. CQ Weekly Report, 5/30/52, 546. Making a strong argument for the adoption of the Point IV program, White said:

With the exception of the amendment that benefits Western Hemisphere colonial countries, most areas under the rule of the major powers can receive assistance from the United States only in connection with plans for deense of the North Atlantic Area.

 This means that the colonial people in Africa and Asia come in solely as fifth wheels to the Eruopean war machine.

The colonial people of the world are determined to have freedom and they may become the enemies of anyone who even appears to stand between them and liberty. The Association’s amendments would help to show clearly that the United States does not intend to have its foreign aid program used to support the colonial system. [Report of the Secretary for May 1952, 6/9/52, EC.]

[15] See, among others, 10/6, 11/5, 12/3/52, 2/4/53; in appendix, 6/7/50; and 5/18/50, Hearings, 242-309; 6/7/50, Hearings, 242-309.

[16] Mitchell explained the importance of the summary of the voting records on congressmen and senators to the Board. He said when he presented it at a one-day state-wide conference in North Carolina, most delegates at first did not realize how bad the records of their congressmen were. “But when the district representatives were permitted to stand up and speak about the voting records of their representatives, it became clear to the people how bad the situation was.” Minutes, 4/14/52, EC. See also 5/8/52.

[17] Mitchell letter to Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., 12/4/52, listing the matters they discussed during their meeting that day. NAACP II: A-200, DLC. For details of the items Mitchell discussed with Lodge and related developments, see Watson, Lion in the Lobby, 215.

[18] In another letter to Dwight Palmer, chairman of the President’s Committee on Government Contract Compliance, on 12/4/52, Mitchell informed him of his meeting with Lodge that day, specifically noting their discussion of “Item 2,” which urged strengthening of the committee and stressed the need to see that it did “not go out of business by default.” Mitchell told Palmer that Lodge assured him of General Eisenhower’s interest in the committee and that his administration wished to give “considerable attention” to the problems it was considering. Mitchell letter to Palmer, 12/4/52, NAACP II: A-208, DLC.

[19] See 8/31/48 and, subsequently, related documents.

[20] See 12/5/51 for report on E.O. 10308 creating the President’s Committee on Government Contract Compliance, related texts throughout, and Mitchell’s statement, 6/9/52 in appendix.

[21] See 10/6, 11/5, 12/3/52, and, most immediately, 2/4/53.

[22] See 4/3, 5/4, 6/1, 9/9/53.

[23] One problem involved discrimination in employment by the du Pont Company at Savannah River, and segregation in the schools of Oak Ridge, about which complained to the AEC. Gordon Dean, AEC chairman, told Mitchell that regarding the reported assertion by a representative of the du Pont Company that it was not bound by the nondiscrimination clause, he had instructed the company’s Savannah River office to make an investigation of the matter and to provide an early report.

                Regarding the employment of African American scientists by the company, it was the AEC’s understanding the the company had offered technical positions to four blacks and that one of them had accepted a position and was scheduled to report for work in the summer.

                Regarding segregated schools at Oak Ridge, the AEC had “had this matter under study for some time in view of the cases before the Supreme Court.” Dean’s letter to Mitchell, 4/10/53, NAACP WB-171, DLC.

[24] See, among others, 8/31, 12/28/51.

[25] Examples of private companies in which Mitchell was consistently seeking to end employment discrimination were telephone and railroad.

[26] See 2/6/52.




February 4, 1953


Civil Rights Legislation Introduced


In the Senate, the Ives-Humphrey FEPC Bill, S. 692, has been introduced and contains enforcement powers. In keeping with previous discussions between themselves and other persons, Senators Ives and Humphrey have not called this bill an FEPC proposal. Instead, it is titled “Federal Equality of Opportunity in Employment Act.”[1]


Senator Dirksen has introduced a bill, S. 1, which would provide for investigation of discrimination in employment and other civil rights problems. It contains no enforcement powers, although it sets up a commission to make inquiries on discrimination. The commission would have subpoena powers.[2]


Other civil rights and related measures include three proposals to change Rule 22, an Anti-Lynching bill, Anti-Poll Tax Bill, Anti-Jim Crow Travel Bill, a bill strengthening and expanding civil rights functions for the Department of Justice, a proposal to approve and strengthen Federal civil rights statutes, an anti-peonage bill, a bill to protect servicemen from mistreatment by civilians in the United States, a proposal to establish a human rights commission, a bill to outlaw segregation in the District of Columbia, and the Alaska and Hawaii Statehood Bills.[3]


As has been reported in the press, southern Senators have introduced a Constitutional Amendment to outlaw the Poll Tax.[4]


In the House, the civil rights proposals are very numerous. There are five proposed FEPC Bills with enforcement powers, five Anti-Lynching Bills, six Anti-Poll Tax Bills, three anti-discrimination proposals, three bills outlawing segregation in the Armed Services, two designed to strengthen the Federal civil rights statutes, two Anti-Jim Crow Travel Bills, two proposals to establish a Federal human rights commission, one bill to outlaw segregation in the District of Columbia, one anti-peonage bill, one proposal to strengthen the civil rights functions of the Department of Justice, a bill forbidding Federal aid to national guards which discriminate on the basis of race, a bill forbidding discrimination in administration of Federal funds, a bill for fair education practices and a bill for fair housing practices.[5]


Labor Legislation


We have had a number of discussions with Senators and Congressmen about proposed amendments to the Taft-Hartley Law. Chairman McConnell of the House Committee has discussed the problem at length and has agreed that the Association’s testimony will be held in March.[6] We have requested the advice of the legal staff on language which would outlaw segregation in unions. In this connection, it is interesting to note that the language used in the Railway Labor Act, together with supplemental statements in the Committee Reports on this legislation, has brought about the admission of colored persons to Local 364 of the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen at the Washington Terminal.[7]


We have mentioned this problem in previous reports.[8] However, in a formal hearing on January 28, where William T. Scott, an employee of the Washington Terminal, was threatened with dismissal for failure to join the Brotherhood under the union shop contract at the Terminal, Mr. Edward Hickey, Jr., lawyer for the Carmen, stated that on Monday, January 26, the union had decided to admit colored people into their white local. The request for dismissal of Mr. Scott was withdrawn by the union when he offered his membership and it was accepted for the formerly all white local.[9] The men admitted on January 26 had applied for membership in the white local after talking with the NAACP.


Since the constitution of the Carmen provides that colored people should be members of the separate locals except where such separation is in violation of the law, Mr. Hickey stated that he was authorized by the organization to say that the international officers of the union did not desire to interpret or apply the constitution in any way which would be incompatible with any civil law.


Mr. Joseph Waddy, Washington, D. C., attorney, and the Director of the Washington Bureau had appeared on Mr. Scott’s behalf to contend that the action of dismissing Mr. Scott for failure to join the Jim Crow union was a violation of the Railway Labor Act as amended in 1950 following NAACP testimony and efforts of others, including Mr. Waddy, to have safeguards included in the law.[10] We have never been satisfied with the language but it does appear that it can be used effectively against segregation.[11]


Anti-Jim Crow Travel


The Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee headed by Representative Charles A. Wolverton invited sponsors of Anti-Jim Crow Travel legislation to testify at brief hearings on January 28.[12] Later, the committee will schedule hearings on these bills and witnesses other than Congressmen will be permitted to testify. The committee heard Congressman Adam C. Powell, Jr., on January 28.[13] Congressman William L. Dawson was also invited to testify but postponed his appearance temporarily. It will be recalled that following the November elections, we urged Congressman Wolverton and Senator Charles Tobey, Chairman of the Senate Committee, to make an early start on bills to end segregation in interstate travel.


Segregation in Schools and Federal Property


Senators Duff, Henrickson, Ives, Morse, Humphrey, and Lehman have joined us in urging that the Department of Defense conclude action designed to outlaw segregation in schools on military posts. We had discussed this matter extensively with top Defense officials of the past Administration.


After considerable discussion, the Department of Defense and the U. S. Office of Education finally admitted in writing that there were no legal barriers preventing them from admitting children of all service personnel to schools on military posts, even though such schools were run by local authorities.[14]


We made an unsuccessful effort to have an order to implement these findings sent out just before Assistant Secretary Anna Rosenberg left her post in the Department of Defense. Unfortunately, she did not do this and we have placed the matter before Dr. John Hannah who will succeed Mrs. Rosenberg.[15]


Also unresolved in the Department of Defense is the question of segregation in certain Naval establishments. It is interesting to note that Mrs. Rosenberg sought to clear up this problem but Under-Secretary Whitehair of the Navy Department did not answer her inquiries on it until January 22, two days after she had left the Pentagon. In his memorandum to Mrs. Rosenberg, Under-Secretary Whitehair said, “Although our concern over this problem is mutual, the approach of a military establishment will naturally differ from that of the officials of the NAACP. . . . A direct order from the Secretary of the Navy, no matter how forceful, would not only fail to eliminate the basic social causes of the problem but would only antagonize the opposing forces involved.”


At the time Mr. Whitehair signed this communication, he was Acting Secretary of the Navy replacing Dan Kimball.[16]


MS: copy, MP.


[1] See also 6/1, 6/15, 12/31/53, 2/28, 3/9, 12/31/54; and headnote on Struggle for Federal FEPC.

[2] Mitchell informed the Board that while Senator Everett Dirksen had introduced a weak FEPC bill without enforcement powers, Irving Ives and Hubert Humphrey had introduced strong bills. He said he had concluded that there would be “a strong disposition to get out Sen. Dirksen’s bill or some variation of it as an administration sponsored plan of action in this field.” Minutes, 2/9/53, EC. A year later at the beginning of the second session of the 83rd Congress, Dirksen provided a very important window into his philosophy on civil rights that presaged a dramatic confrontation with Mitchell in 1964 during the struggle over the scope of Title VII of the civil rights bill. See 2/54, where Dirksen’s philosophy is noted.

[3] In his recommendations on a legislative program to Walter White, Mitchell said that, in addition to seeking hearings on the various proposals to amend Senate Rule 22, the NAACP should seek others on FEPC legislation. Mitchell memorandum, 2/6/53, to White, MP. See also 3/3, 5/4/53.   

[4] See headnote on Struggle to Abolish the Poll Tax.

[5] In a comprehensive letter to senators that covered all of this section, Mitchell urged them to take action on civil rights legislation.

                The “positive and effective civil rights program” the NAACP was advocating, he explained, was provided in the statement, “These Are the Issues,” which was published in the Crisis, 10/52. Furthermore, the Senate Labor Committee’s report, “Employment and Economic Status of the Negro in the United States,” provided a “compelling argument on the need for action.” The committee reported that although the annual income of African Americans had risen from $364 in 1939 to $1,295 in 1950, the income of whites had risen from $956 in 1939 to $2,481in 1950. He explained further that, whenever the Federal Government considered social legislation, such as federal aid to education, housing, or matters affecting the armed services, the civil rights question arose because those programs were frequently marred by segregation, which affected blacks living in the South, as well as blacks and whites from the North. Blacks and whites from the North, he said, as civilians were often sent below the Mason-Dixon Line to perform “duties vital to the national defense.” Mitchell’s letter, 1/9/53, NAACP II: A-183, DLC.

                At the same time, Mitchell called Walter White attention to a page 1 WP story that said southerners were backing a compromise civil rights bill (S. 535) that their friend Senator Hubert Humphrey had introduced as a “starter” measure in the desperate hope of getting some action on such legislation in Congress. Mitchell explained that Senator Hubert Humphrey had said that he did not mean to imply in any way that his bill would “take the place of FEPC legislation.” Mitchell said he had not taken a position on such legislation, so he asked White for his opinion. Mitchell’s letter, 1/26/53, to White, and WP article, 1/26/53, NAACP II: A-185, DLC.

[6] More specifically, the NAACP amendment sought to prevent any employees from being excluded from membership or placed in a separate union or denied adequate representation solely because of race, religion, or national origin. 3/31/53, Hearings, 2055-78. See also 3/3, 4/3, 4/30, 5/4, 6/1/53; and headnote on the Taft-Hartley

[7] No court decisions were rendered in either the B and O or the Washington Terminal cases because the unions themselves ended segregation. Mitchell’s letter to Elias G. Burnett, 4/7/53, NAACP IX: 197, DLC. See also 5/18/50, Hearings, 285-302; and, in appendix, 6/7/50; and materials in NAACP IX: 196, DLC.

[8] See 11/5, 12/3, 12/31/52.


[9] See 5/31/50, where Mitchell reported that a strong effort had been made to amend the act to permit establishment of the union shop and dues check-ff system in the industry.

[10] See 11/5/51, 10/6/52 and, in appendix, 6/7/50; and materials in NAACP IX: 196, DLC.

[11] See also 5/31, 7/17, 8/31, 12/21/50; 6/7/50, Hearings, 285-302. The testimony of Mitchell’s former FEPC colleague, Theodore E. Brown, representing the International Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, precedes the statement (pages 273-85.) See also 5/18//50, Hearings, 242-309.

[12] See, most recently, 12/31/52, Mitchell’s “Recommendations on Legislative Program;” as well as Alexander, “Recent Trends in the Law of Racial Segregation on Public Carriers,” 401-13; and headnote on Struggle against Jim Crow Travel.

[13] No published record of Powell’s closed session testimony of 1/28/53 on Jim Crow Travel was found, but see his public testimony at 5/13/54, Hearings, 55; as well as Mitchell, 5/13/54, Hearings, 39.   

[14] This was a direct continuation of the efforts Mitchell reported at 12/4/52.

In a letter of 1/10/53, Rosenberg advised Earl J. Mcrath, commissioner of Education, that:

The fact that segregation has been practiced in schools which are on military installations has been a matter of concern to the Department of Defense . .  . . I know that, in exercising your discretion under this Act, you may wish to take this important matter into your consideration and I would appreciate your letting me know whether you consider it proper that children be required to attend a segregated school on a Federal installation under a program financed to a considerable degree by Federal money. It is our feeling that this practice is unsatisfactory and is violative not only of the policyof the Department of Defensebut also contravenes the policy set forth by the President.

On 1/15/53, McGrath replied that:

If it is the policy of the Department of Defense not to permit segregatededucation on any property within its control, whether that education be local school agencies under Section 3 (Public Law 874) or y the Commissioner of Education operating under Section 6 (Public Law 874), this agency would, of course, be guided by such a policy . . . . In any case,in which the local educational agency is not able to provide education on an integrated basis, the Commissioner would then be under the necessity of making other arrangements for education of such children.

From these exchanges, Mitchell told John A. Hannah, it was clear that there remained “only the necessity of taking the mechanical action needed to end racial segregation in all schools on military posts. Mitchell’s letter to Hannah, 1/21/53, and other materials are in NAACP WB-171, DLC; and in OF 142 A 4 (1), DDEL. See also 12/31/52, 2/4, 4/3, 5/4, 6/15, 10/6, 12/7/53, 2/17/54.

[15] Roger W. Jones, assistant director for legislative reference, however, showed another possible reason why Rosenberg did not act. Unlike the obfuscatory reasoning of McGrath, he flatly concluded that under Public Law 874, “Schools located on non-Federal property and operated by State and local authorities are segregated or non-segregated as the State law prescribes. No authority exists to require such schools to be non-segregated.” Regarding schools located on Federal property and operated by federal agencies, he said, existing law contained administrative discretion as to whether they should be segregated. The law, he said, also contained discretion as to whether locally operated schools on federal property should be segregated. The policy then was that they were segregated or non-segregated depending on state laws for regular state and local schools. Roger W. Jones memorandum for Mr. Shanley, on “Segregation issues involved in temporary extension of Public Law 874, 81st Congress, O.F 142 A 4 (1), DDEL.

                See next 4/3, 11/4/53.

[16] Mitchell pressed this concern by telling Robert B. Anderson, secretary, Department of the Navy, that the segregation at the yards in Norfolk, Virginia, and Charleston, South Carolina, was approved by Secretary Francis P. Whitehair in a memorandum of 1/22/53, to Rosenberg. Since Rosenberg retired on 1/20/53, Mitchell said, there had been no response to the memorandum, so it had become official Navy policy. As Anderson knew, Mitchell told him, President Eisenhower had strongly repudiated “this kind of injustice in his press conference on March 19. He therefore asked that all racial segregation be ended at the Navy yards. He also asked that “a general policy statement be issued by the Navy Department ending racial segregation wherever it existed in naval establishments.

Mitchell next reminded Hannah that, although the president had said “forthrightly that he was opposed to racial segregation where federal funds” were spent, the secretary of the Navy had revealed that the chief executive’s wishes were not being implemented at the Norfolk and Charleston Navy yards.. Mitchell followed up this complaint with a letter to Maxwell Rabb, assistant to Governor Adams at the White House, in which he said that he had learned that Marvin J. Ottllie in the Office of Industrial Relations in the Navy Department, was the “real author of the various Navy communications endorsing segregation at these yards. He therefore urged Rabb to “act to see that the answer to this letter clearly supports a policy of no segregation in all Navy establishments, including the yards at Chrleston and Norfolk.” Mitchell’s letters to Anderson, 3/30/53, Hannah, 5/4/53, and Rabb, 5/28/53, and other related materials are in NAACP WB-142, DLC.

See 11/2/53 for the successful results of this struggle.




Desegregation by Presidential Order


Legislative Records of 1954 Candidates


[ca. June 29, 1954]


The executive branch of government has played a vital role in desegregation of various government facilities. This program was started under the Roosevelt and Truman Administrations, but it has been accelerated considerably under the Eisenhower Administration. For their accomplishments in this field, the three Presidents deserve the warmest praise.


There is no doubt that some of the important road-blocks to integration have been removed solely because the Chief Executive, in response to the continued protest of the NAACP and other allied forces, has instructed that a change be made.


It is not possible to list all of these charges, but, for this discussion, we have selected typical cases in order that the role of the executive branch in this field may be illustrated by practical examples.


This presentation also deals with the incredibly shabby record of the legislative branch of the government. The record demonstrates the complete failure of President Eisenhower to urge that the Congress take any positive action in the field of civil rights.


There is strong evidence that this Administrative has deliberately blocked possible action by the legislative branch in the field of civil rights.


It should be added that dismal record of the Republican Party in legislation seems to have the full cooperation of the Democrats. There is no reason for believing that the result would have been any different if the Democrats had been in control of the 83rd Congress. There is no reason to believe that the present leaders among the Democrats will do a better job in the civil rights field, if they control the 84th Congress.




The NAACP campaign to end segregation in the shore establishments of the Navy was started by branches in Norfolk, Virginia, and Charleston, South Carolina. The Washington Bureau initiated action on complaints by these branches in 1951.[i]


These complaints charged that civilian employees were required to use segregated rest-rooms, drinking foundations, and restaurants. We asked for the ending of segregation in the two establishments where we had specific complaints. We also asked that the Navy adopt a policy that would forbid racial segregation in any of its operations..


The Navy Secretary, under President Truman, refused to abolish segregation because “local customs must be followed in situations of this kind.”


One of the strongest telegrams of protest coming from our Convention in Oklahoma City in 1952 urged President Truman to correct this discrimination. No corrective action was taken and the matter remained unsettled until the Secretary of the Navy, following President Eisenhower’s policy, ordered the end of segregation in all Naval establishments.


On November 11, 1953, the President reported that “of sixty (Navy) installations on Federally-owned property” in the South only one had not completed the program of eliminating segregation. The one exception was the Charleston Navy Yard which had ended segregation everywhere except in the wash-room facilities. This was ended later. On May 18, 1954, the Director of the Washington Bureau and representatives of the Charleston, South Carolina, branch made a tour of the Navy Yard in that city. We found no segregation in facilities.


In his official statement, the President said this is an “accomplishment of which we all can be proud and I congratulate the Secretary of the Navy and his Department on a job very well done indeed.” The Director of the Washington Bureau wishes to be on record as sharing the President’s view on this matter.


It should also be noted that these Naval establishments are located in the states of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.


The President’s November announcement showed that facilities in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas were listed as integrated when first reports were made in August 1953.[ii]




The Washington Bureau has prepared a statement on the ending of segregation in the Armed Services which will appear in the Journal of Negro Education, published by the Bureau of Educational Research, Howard University, on July 15, 1954.[iii]


One of the important aspects of discrimination in the Armed Services is racial segregation in elementary and high schools on military posts. These schools are divided into two groups. One group is operated by the Military under Section 6 of Public Law 874 and the other group is operated by local boards of education under Section 3 of the same law.


The President formally requested elimination of the segregation practice in 1953.[iv] At that time, sixty-three military posts offered school facilities to children of parents either living on or working on Federal property.


Under previous Administrations, segregation had been banned in all of the Section 6 schools, except the school at Fort Benning, Georgia. In 1953, there were twenty-one posts where Section 3 schools were segregated. In addition, colored children, were barred from certain schools in the Canal Zone. The Canal Zone school system includes 17 elementary schools, 5 junior high schools, and 2 high schools.


The Department of Defense has announced that all segregation will be ended in schools on military posts by September 1955.


Segregation was abolished in the school at Fort Benning, Georgia, in September 1953. Of the twenty-one posts, only Fort Belvoir, Virginia has publicly announced that it will end segregation in September 1954. However, we are awaiting an official report which may show that others in this group are planning to end segregation this year.


New schools at Fort Myer, Virginia, and the Craig Air Force Base in Alabama will open on a non-segregated basis in September 1954. However, these schools and the schools at Fort Belvoir will be operated by the Federal Government because the local authorities have declined to run them if colored children are admitted. All schools in the Canal Zone will be open to colored children in September 1954.


There was no evidence that any Cabinet officer sought to block the program of integration in schools on military posts under the Truman Administration. However, there is ample evidence to demonstrate that Mrs. Oveta Culp Hobby, Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, did request a delay in the school integration program under the Eisenhower Administration.[v]




The Veterans Administration has officially declared that segregation must end in its hospitals and domiciliary facilities. The NAACP has long pressed for realization of this objective.[vi]


Within the Veterans Administration, Mr. George Holland, Assistant to the Administration, has consistently urged and worked for the abolition of all racial segregation in the facilities of this agency.[vii]


Mr. Harvey Higley, the Eisenhower appointed Administrator, is the first chief of the Veterans Administration to give full personal backing to the policy of no segregation.[viii]


Scrutiny of the cost of operating Veterans Hospitals shows that, aside from the moral liability of racial segregation in these hospitals, the financial waste caused by separation of the races is enormous. For example, we list the cost of building similar VA hospitals in six cities. All hospitals listed below are General Medical.


            Location                                   Beds                            Cost

            New Orleans                            496                              $8,140,000

            Chicago                                       “                                $8,032,000

            Ann Arbor                                   “                                $7,951,000

            St. Louis                                      “                                $7,686,000

            Cincinnati                                    “                                $7,810,000

            Oklahoma City                            “                                $7,487,000


It will be noted that the hospital in New Orleans which was built on a plan to maintain racial segregation is more expensive than any of the other five which were not built on a plan to keep racial separation. Fortunately, even the New Orleans hospital has now been instructed to end racial segregation.


On the basis of the above figures, it would be fair to say that the saving would run anywhere from $100,000 to over a half million dollars in each hospital of this kind. Factors taken into consideration in computing the cost difference are plumbing, recreation rooms, dining-rooms, and other wasteful dual facilities.


A survey in 1946 revealed that approximately 65 hospitals practiced some form of segregation or total exclusion by race. Forty-seven of the 65 were in the South. Of the 47 in the South, 14 excluded colored people completely. Northern hospitals having colored wards in 1946 were Wood, Wisconsin, Coatesville, Pennsylvania, and Hines, Illinois.


In April 1949, the V.A. said:


“It is our policy to avoid segregation of patients wherever this can be done without creating a situation, or a mental condition, which might presumably retard the recovery of the patients.


“In providing hospitalization under the laws administered by V.A. our first and all important consideration is for the welfare of the hospitalized veterans. The V.A. is not, and will not become, an agency for social change.


“In those instances where it has been determined that the integration of white and colored patients would work a hardship upon the patients or interfere with their recovery, exception has been made to the general policy and local custom has been followed.


“We shall continue our efforts to provide equally and impartially for every veteran, regardless of his race, creed or color, the finest service available.”


The official program of ending racial segregation in all VA hospitals and domiciliary facilities began in September 1953.


It is important to remember that the specific instances of departures from the top policy must be constantly exposed if we are to obtain complete adherence to the national policy. Branches are urged to investigate conditions at any Government facilities in their areas and to report to the Washington Bureau on whether racial segregation is practiced in these facilities.




The Bureau reminds the branches that, because of the Association’s efforts, we have two Federal agencies which are charged with the responsibility of eliminating discrimination in employment. These are the Federal Fair Employment Board, located in the U.S. Civil Service Commission, Washington, D.C., which operates under Executive Order No. 9980 and the Committee on Government Contracts, located in the U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C. which is established to police the non-discrimination clause which is in all Government contracts under Executive Order No. 10,479.[ix]


Neither of these committees can be considered as a substitute for a Federal Fair Employment Practice Law under any circumstances. However, they can perform valuable functions if we insist that they act on specific problems and complaints which we present.


As frequently happens in the executive branch, these committees are sometimes blocked by powerful Government officials who for one reason or another wish to prevent fair employment.[x]


We now have a specific case on this point involving the Treasury Department and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The Treasury Department apparently with the sanction of the White House permits continued discrimination against apprentice-trainees by denying them opportunity to continue their instruction in this field of employment. A Federal Fair Employment recommendation that this discrimination be corrected has been suppressed.[xi]




In recent years, Federal executive policies in housing have been the greatest single factor in promoting residential racial segregation. This is still true.[xii] The record of Federal practices is so bad and so extensive that it cannot be compressed into a few paragraphs.[xiii]


It should be noted that on January 25, 1954, the President made the following statement in his Housing Message to Congress:


“It must be frankly and honestly acknowledged that many members of minority groups, regardless of their income or their economic status, have had the least opportunity of all of our citizens to acquire good homes. Some progress, although far too little, has been made by the Housing Agency in encouraging the production and financing of adequate housing available to members of minority groups. However, the administrative policies governing the operations of the several housing agencies must be, and they will be, materially strengthened and augmented in order to assure equal opportunity for all of our citizens to acquire, within their means, good and well-located homes. We shall take steps to insure that families of minority groups displaced by urban redevelopment operations have a fair opportunity to acquire adequate housing; we shall prevent the dislocation of such families through the misuse of slum clearance programs; and we shall encourage adequate mortgage financing for the construction of new housing for such families on good, well-located sites.”[xiv]


Nothing has been done by the Housing Agencies to implement the promise made in this message.[xv]




The only record to date of the Republican controlled Congress’ views on civil rights is that of January 7, 1953, when, as a matter of Party policy, the Republicans voted solidly with the southern Democrats to continue Senate rules which permit filibusters.[xvi]


The only Republicans who voted in favor of changing the rules were Senators Duff (Pa.), Hendrickson (N.J.), Ives (N.Y.), Kuchel (Calif.), and the late Senator Tobey of New Hampshire.


Since that time, the President and the leaders in the House and Senate have systematically ignored all pleas for action on civil rights legislation.


The nearest we have come to getting officially endorsed action has been in a bill to penalize segregation in interstate travel.[xvii] Hearings on this bill have been held in the House, but the House Committee has not reported out the bill at the time this statement is written because the executive agencies of Government, which must obtain clearance from the Bureau of the Budget before submitting reports on pending legislation, have not sent in their reports.


The conclusion is inescapable that these reports are being held up by the White House. In addition, the Senate Committee has refused to act on the bills because the House Committee has not acted.


The Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee has reported out S. 692, a Federal Fair Employment Practice Bill with enforcement powers. However, the House has no plan for considering this bill in committee and it is obvious that under the present rule S. 692 would face a filibuster in the Senate.[xviii]


Perhaps one of the worse sins of the 83rd Congress is the passage of a hospital construction act which permits segregation in public hospitals that receive Federal aid. Northern Senators and representatives have flatly refused to support the principle that safeguards against segregation in such hospitals should be incorporated in this bill. The fact that this legislation was passed after the Supreme Court decisions outlawing segregation shows the grim problem facing us in the future as we continue the battle against Government endorsed segregation.[xix]


Generally speaking, the grants to states for social welfare and other programs that benefit large numbers of people have the support of a coalition of liberal northern and “less conservative” southern members of Congress. The members of this group believe that inclusion of non-segregation provisions in such legislation will force the southern group to vote against the entire bill - no matter how beneficial it may be. Hence, the northern liberals (both Republicans and Democrats) usually oppose including non-segregation clauses in such measures.


The one bright spot so far in the record of the 83rd Congress is the defeat of an amendment by Senator Maybank of South Carolina which would have struck out public housing from the Housing Act of 1954 because of the Supreme Court decision outlawing segregation in California public housing. The Maybank amendment was defeated by a voice vote on June 4.


The only Senators who made statements for the record on the date this vote was taken were Senator Maybank, who spoke in favor of his own amendment, Senator Knowland, the Majority Leader, who urged the Maybank amendment be defeated, and Senator Lehman, who expressed his opposition to the Maybank amendment. However, the overwhelming nature of the vote shows that it was heavily supported by many Senators, and, in this instance, the Congress was prevented from going on record in favor of defying the Supreme Court.[xx]


We must publicize and stress the records of members of the Senate and House if we are to overcome the present stalemate in Congress on civil rights. We are now at the place where our steadily increasing voting strength will effectively persuade members of the House and Senate to support civil rights, if they believe that the voters at home are carefully following what happens in Washington.


One of the finest illustrations of an effective use of voting records comes from the State of Oklahoma where Mr. Roscoe Dunjee, editor of the Black Dispatch, has published the record of Senator Kerr, who is up for reelection this year. We have asked Mr. Dunjee for a folio of his printed statements on Senator Kerr, and now have that available for distribution at the Convention.


The NAACP does not endorse candidates for election, but it is under a mandate from its constituents to supply the record of office-holders. We have these records in the Washington Bureau, but they will serve no useful purpose unless they are given the kind of publicity and attention that Mr. Dunjee has provided. It is strongly urged that his example be followed throughout the country.


We have at the Convention the individual records of the Congressmen and Senators. We also have samples of mimeographed records which we prepare in the Washington Bureau. Many of these have been distributed in state and regional conferences. We have not prepared a new supply for this Convention because it is anticipated that Congress will adjourn July or early in August. At that time, a record on each state will be prepared embracing the entire 83rd Congress and it will be available upon request.



The foregoing statement was presented at the NAACP National Convention in Dallas, Texas, June 29 to July 4, 1954


MS: copy, MP.

Although this report contains some of the information that is in other reports, it is published because it is the most concise.

[i] For initial mention of, and report on this problem involving civilians at Navy yards, see, respectively, 5/1/50, and 6/5/52.  

[ii] See 9/9, 10/6, 11/2, 11/4, 12/31/53.

[iii] Mitchell, “The Status of Racial Integration in the Armed Services,” 203-13.

[iv] See 4/3/53, and President’s News Conference, 3/19/53, Public Papers of the Presidents, 108.

[v] See, among others, 2/17/54; and materials in NAACP WB-171, DLC.

[vi] See also, among others 3/9, 9/29/54.

[vii] See 12/31/53; materials in NAAACP WB-185, DLC; and Watson, Lion in the Lobby, 107, 411.

[viii] See 9/9/53.

[ix] For reports on Truman’s issuance of E.O 9980 see 12/1/48, and, in appendix, 11/7/47, 8/20/48, 6/8/49; and on Eisenhower’s issuance of E.O. 10479 see 9/9/53.

[x] See headnote on Struggle for Federal FEPC.

[xi] For Mitchell’s initial reaction to the Federal Fair Employment Board’s recommendation, see 3/3/50. For detailed backgrounders on the ending of the apprentice program, see letter, 7/9/53, from A. W. Hall, director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printers, to a Mr. Longhorn, and another from Hall to Raymond F. Cooke, 4/23/54, in NAACP WB-18, DLC. See also, among others, 3/9, 9/29/54.

[xii] See, in appendix, 2/1/49, and 1/11/52; and headnote on Segregation in Federal Housing Programs. See also, most immediately, 6/4, 5/5/54.

[xiii] Mitchell recommended to Walter White that the Board request a joint meeting with the President, attorney general and the Housing administrator to obtain a “definite agreement that in the future the Government will give no aid of any kind in the Housing program unless there is an assurance that housing and/or facilities will be open to qualified persons without regard to race. Mitchell memorandum to White, 5/7/54, NAACP WB-91, DLC.

[xiv] NYT, 1/26/54, 1, 12; “Special Message to the Congress on Housing.” 1/25/54, Public Papers of the Presidents, 1954, 193-200.

[xv] At Eisenhower’s news conference on 5/5/54, Ethel Payne of the Defender Publications repeated her question of 4/7/54 to the president “as to whether the several housing agencies had issued any regulations to implement the statement in your Housing Message to Congress, that everything should be done to assure good and well located homes for all citizens.” As far as she had learned, she told Eisenhower, “no such specific regulations have been forthcoming.” She cited Levittown in Pennsylvania as an example of communities where members of minority groups had been barred. The president responded that the “only hope of getting a detailed report” was to go to the F.H.A. itself. NYT, 5/6/54, 18. See also Walter White’s assertion that Eisenhower had “assured him personally that no Federal moneys would be used for segregation.” NYT, 5/18/54, 16. 

[xvi] CQ Weekly Report, 1/9/53, 43-44. On 1/18/54, Sen. Clinton P. Anderson (D-N.M.) proposed in a Senate speech that the cloture rule (Rule XXII) be changed so that debate could be terminated by a vote of two-thirds of all senators voting, ranther than two-thirds of all elected senators, as was then required. Senator William F. Knowland (R-Calif.), Republican floor leader, said he respectfully declined the invitation “for a double filibuster,” instead of a single filibuster, “prior to a vote on Hawaiian statehood.” Knowland said the Republican Policy Committee might consider the matter at some future date, but in the interest of expediting the President’s program, he would not do so before February. CQ Weekly Report, 1/22/54, 97. See also 4/30/53 and materials in NAACP WB-111, DLC.

[xvii] 5/13/54, Hearings, 39, 96-118.

[xviii] White, 2/25/54, Hearings, 176-91.

[xix] 4/21/54, Hearings, 847-56; Shelly v. Kramer; See also Watson,  Lion in the Lobby, 158, 251.

[xx] “During consideration of the Omnibus Housing Act of 1954, the House by non-recorded votes rejected anti-discrimination and anti-segregation amendments. No such amendments were offered in the Senate, but a move to delete the public housing features of the bill in view of the Supreme court’s anti-segregation decisions never reached the floor.” Congress and the Nation, 1616.




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"I suggest that Ten Thousand Negroes march on Washington, D.C. with the slogan ..." A. Philip Randolph, Father of the modern civil rights movement

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