American Jewish Committee Issues Progress Report on Equal Rights

Substantial nationwide progress “toward equal opportunity for all” has been recorded by the American people during the last eight years, the American Jewish Committee declares in a report published today. New state and municipal laws as well as scores of important administrative and court decisions against discrimination are cited by the AJC survey as proof that “the cumulative record is impressive indeed.”

“These advances have not always come easily,” the AJC survey reports. “Sometimes, as with the epochal public school desegregation ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court, they have occasioned vehement opposition on the part of certain groups trying desperately to turn back the clock. But despite these set-backs, Americans may well take pride in the nation’s forward march towards equal justice and opportunity.”

The report notes that in the eight years since the report of the President’s Committee on Civil Rights in October 1947, three states have adopted laws barring discrimination in higher education; five states have administrative enforcement of public accommodation; and over a score of court decisions have sounded the end of segregation in restaurants, theatres, parks, swimming pools, golf courses, and other public places.

Pointing out that the report shows civil rights steps progress among 15 states and 36 cities “because the people took the lead,” Irving Engel, president of the American Jewish Committee, declared that “the eight years of progress in civil rights on the municipal and state level is in sharp contrast to 80 years of Congressional failure to act favorably on any civil rights measures.” He urged adoption of a comprehensive eight-point Federal civil rights program “to fill the void created by eight decades of Congressional inaction in the field.” These eight points would include strengthening of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Section and reinforcing Federal civil rights statutes.

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