Je Wish Groups Find ‘dramatic Gain’ in Civil Rights During 1961
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Je Wish Groups Find ‘dramatic Gain’ in Civil Rights During 1961

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Civil rights in the United States during 1961 were marked by “dramatic gains” through Federal executive action, two Jewish organizations agreed today in year-end reviews.

The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, however, after lauding President Kennedy for “the imaginative vigor with which he used both the authority and prestige of his office to further the cause of civil rights,” asserted that the President’s decision not to press for civil rights legislation in the 1961 Congress was “a keen disappointment to civil rights leaders.”

The Jewish Labor Committee, declaring that the Federal Government had shown during 1961 “a marked concern for the rights of its citizens over past endeavors by other administrations,” asserited that the field of employment discrimination still remained “one of the biggest blots on the American economy.”

“Both major corporations and local businesses maintain a reservoir of discrimination in their hiring patterns and practices,” the JLC reported. “Such industries as banking, insurance, airlines and railroads have widespread patterns of discriminatory practices in hiring.”


Henry Schultz, ADL chairman, declared in the report that Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy was inaccurate in saying that new civil rights legislation was not now required and added that “the failure to legislate left a gap that could not be filled otherwise.” The ADL stated that if the 87th Congress “is to become a civil rights Congress, it will have to make its mark in the second half for the first half is barren. But unless President Kennedy takes a stronger lead, the prospects for civil rights legislation are not bright.”

The Jewish Labor Committee said that membership organizations in the United States, including college fraternities, country clubs, athletic associations, civic groups, fraternal bodies, business and professional societies and so-called private clubs “still have widespread practices of deep-rooted prejudices and this is reflected in their community outlook.”

“Laws can only be passed and be effettive if voluntary membership organizations recognize their responsibility in and to the nation at large and eliminate these practices which tend to become not only social barriers but which extend into the economic field as well and are based on a person’s qualifications because of race, religion or national ancestry,” the JLC stated.

“It is axiomatic that social barriers based on racial and religious prejudices reflect economic barriers in employment, cultural barriers in the arts, and extend to our class rooms our political life and our community life as neighbors, ” the JLC continued. Such prejudices, the organization declared, “remained one of the major obstacles to be hurled either by law or community action. In 1962, this is one of the major tests that will have to be met by those concerned with advancing civil rights in our nation.”

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