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Defense Dept. Confirms Navy Ruling on Bias; Issues Further Explanation

The Department of Defense issued a statement today, virtually confirming that the Navy had advised its personnel on ships in the New Orleans harbor to tolerate local discriminations there against “Negroes, Jews and Italians” during the Mardi Gras festival in New Orleans. In its statement, the Defense Department declared that, while enlisted men in uniform will be allowed to attend segregated parties and balls in New Orleans during Mardi Gras Week, such men would participate only “as private individuals.”

“It is a policy of the Department of Defense,” the statement declared, “that we will participate officially in public and private affairs only when they are in every way unsegregated, and anything at which we had an official Navy representative in Mardi Gras Week would have to be an unsegregated event.

“But this does not mean that a naval officer who receives an invitation to a segregated private party cannot attend it as an individual if he wants to.”

The decision to attend such a private event, the Department spokesman said, would be left to the conscience of the individual.

The Navy will furnish lists of the officers and men aboard ships visiting New Orleans during Mardi Gras if segregated organizations there request such lists, the spokesman said. He emphasized, however, that the lists would not be broken down to indicate the race, creed or religion of crew members.

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