President’s Civil Rights Body Submits Report to Truman; Asks Legislation to Curb Bias
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President’s Civil Rights Body Submits Report to Truman; Asks Legislation to Curb Bias

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The President’s Committee on Civil Rights, which was appointed last December to investigate the status of civil rights in the U.S. and recommend more adequate means of guaranteeing them, today called for federal and state legislation to bar religious and racial discrimination in employment, education and housing and urged the enactment of measures curbing the dissemination through the mails of defamatory literature.

President Truman, making a statement to the press after he received the report this morning from committee members, said he was going to read and study the report “with great care” and recommended that “all my countrymen do the same thing.” “I created this committee with a feeling of urgency,” the President said. “No sooner were we finished with the war than racial and religious intolerance began to appear and threaten the very things we had just fought for.” He expressed the hope that the committee report would become “an American charter of human freedom in our time.”

Among the specific recommendations contained in the 178-page report were the following:

1. The establishment of a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission, empowered to use both education and force in attempting to abolish discrimination in employment. The proposed commission would have the power to receive complaints, hold hearings, issue cease and desist orders and to seek court aid in enforcing its decision, the report states, but the force provisions of the law would not become effective until one year after the enactment of the law. State FEPC laws are also needed to cover other than interstate commerce, the Committee points out, and suggests that a Presidential “mandate” against discrimination in government employment be enacted.

2. Creation of a Fair Educational Practices Commission that would seek to combat discrimination in schools, first by negotiation, secondly, by public exposure of the offending institution, and, failing that, by issuing a cease and desist order enforceable by court action. A majority of the committee also recommended that the granting of federal funds to public and private institutions be “conditioned” upon the removal of discriminatory practices.


3. Passage of state laws outlawing restrictive real estate covenants. The Committee points out that many areas, particularly large cities in the north and west, such as Chicago, Cleveland, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles are “widely affected” by restrictive covenants barring Negroes, Jews and other minorities.

4. Modification of the federal naturalization laws to permit the granting of citizenship without regard to race, color, or national origin of applicants. The Committee states that “it is inconsistent with our whole tradition to deny on a basis of ancestry right to become citizens to people who qualify in every other way.”

A controversial issue before the Committee was the recommendation made by some witnesses that group libel laws be enacted to outlaw the transmission of defamatory literature through the mails. Witnesses who opposed such a law argued that it would, in effect, be an attempt to censor the whole press. The Committee resolved the question by recommending the “enactment of federal and state laws requiring all groups which attempt to influence public opinion, to disclose the pertinent facts about themselves through systematic registration procedures.”

Postal laws should be amended by Congress to require those who use the first-##lass mail for large scale mailings to file disclo##are statements as those using ##cond class mail are now required to do, and to require that no mail be carried by ## Post Office “which does not bear the name and address of the sender,” the report ##tates.At a press conference following their visit with the President, Committee Chairman Charles Wilson told reporters that they had had no discussions with Attorney General Tom Clark regarding recommendations which the Committee made for strengthening department of Justice machinery for the protection of civil rights or with Congression## leaders regarding their proposal that a joint Senate-House Committee on Civil ##ghts be established. Wilson added, however, that they expect to hear from Clark ## a few days.


While pointing out that the chief victim of civil rights abuses in America {SPAN}##{/SPAN} the Negro, the Committee reports discrimination against Jews in the fields of employment, education and housing.

Complaints lodged with the wartime Fair Employment Practices Commission show## that 70 percent of the complaints based on discrimination because of creed con##erned Jews, the report states, adding that FEPC jurisdiction “did not extend to ##nancial instituions and the professions, where discrimination against Jews is esspecially prevalent.” It cited a National Community Relations Advisory Council survey ## hiring practices in 134 private employment agencies in 10 cities in 1946, disclosing ## percent of these agencies included questions covering religion in their registration forms.Pointing out that the minority job seeker often finds that there are fields ## employment where application “is futile no matter how able or well-trained he is,” ##he report declares, “many northern business concerns have an unwritten rule against ##pointing Jews to executive positions.”About a fourth of the complaints of discrimination in employment lodged with the FEPC for 1943-44 were against the federal government, the report states, and ##calls to question the effectiveness of the Civil Service Commission rules against such discrimination.”


Discrimination in the operation of many private schools and colleges is particularly bad in the North with respect to Jewish students, the report states.

The worst evil is the “separate but equal” policy resulting in the segregation of Negro and white public school students, but the second inadequacy, it points out, ## is the religious and racial discrimination that exists in the operation of some educational institutions, both with respect to the admission of students and the treatment of them after admission.

Pointing out that private schools, by virtue of such privileges as exemption from taxation, become “possessed of a public responsibility from which there is no es##,” the report states that “nevertheless, it is clear that there is much discrimina tion, based on prejudice, in admission of students to private colleges, vocational schools and graduate schools . . . in many of our northern educational instutions en##llment of Jewish students never seems to exceed certain fixed points and there is never more than a token enrollment of Negroes.The situation is especially bad in New York City where the students of the city colleges are predominantly Jewish. “These colleges have high academic standards,” the report says, “but graduates from them with excellent records have been repeatedly ##nied admission to private and non-sectarian professional schools.”

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