President Kennedy Asked to Eradicate Bias in Federally Supported Projects

Presidential action to eradicate racial and religious discrimination from all programs and activities supported by the Government was urged today in a 61-page documented memorandum submitted to the White House on behalf of the Leadership Conference of Civil Rights which is composed of more than 50 national Jewish and non-Jewish organizations.

The memorandum was presented by Roy Wilkins, executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Arnold Aronson, director of program planning and evaluation for the National Community Relations Advisory Council. The NCRAC is composed of six major, national Jewish organizations and more than 50 local Jewish organizations in the United States.

The comprehensive memorandum was prepared in response to an earlier White House request for such a report. Contending that the Federal Government should, in no way, be a party to discrimination, the memorandum called on the President to issue an executive order barring racial discrimination:

1. In the hiring, assignment, appointment or promotion of all personnel by any individual or firm holding Federal contracts or subsidized by the Government:

2. In all institutions, facilities and services maintained or operated directly by the Federal Government, including parks, hospitals, prisons and public housing.

3. In all programs, services or facilities, whether administered by State or local governments, receiving any form of Federal assistance, including slum clearance, urban renewal and mortgage loan insurance programs, off-duty military training programs, health, recreation and research services, airports, hospitals, libraries, schools and colleges.

Paying tribute to actions already taken by President Kennedy and members of his Cabinet, the memorandum expressed the opinion that “the Kennedy Administration has been more active in the defense of civil rights than any previous Administration in a comparable period. “However, the Wilkins-Aronson memorandum continued:

“We cannot fail to observe that the sum total of these actions is dwarfed and, in fact, nullified by the massive involvement of the Federal Government in programs and activities that make it a silent, but nonetheless full, partner in the perpetuation of discriminatory practices.”

Among the organizations that are represented in the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, on whose behalf Mr. Wilkins and Mr. Aronson filed the memorandum, are–in addition to the NAACP and NCRAC–the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish War Veterans, National Council of Jewish Women, the Workmen’s Circle and the United Hebrew Trades.

NEXT STORY