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Anti-defamation League Files Complaint Against Southern Resort Hotel

January 12, 1966
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For the second time since enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith today filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department against a major southern resort hotel for “religious discrimination in violation of Title II” of the act.

Charges filed against The Cloister, of Sea Island, Ga., by Arnold Forster, general counsel of the League, cites the hotel for “continuing practices of denying accommodations to Jews” and asks John Doar, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division, to bring civil action against The Cloister to terminate this discrimination.

The League’s action follows a similar complaint it filed in March 1965, against the Breakers Hotel of Palm Beach, Fla., for “denying accommodations to Jews.” On Nov. 29, the Justice Department informed the League that the Breakers had agreed to a policy of providing service “on an equal basis” in accordance with the law.

The League documented its new complaint with three sets of paired letters requesting accommodations sent to The Cloister in August and September 1965. In each set, one letter was signed with “a Jewish-sounding name” and one with a “non-Jewish-sounding name.” Both letters were mailed at the same time. The letters signed with “Jewish sounding” names in two of the sets were answered with form letters requesting personal references. In the third set, the letter signed with a “Jewish-sounding” name received no reply at all. The hotel’s two form letters stated that The Cloister is patronized by “a carefully chosen congenial clientele.” Requests for accommodations in the three letters signed with “non-Jewish-sounding” names were “immediately filled,” the League said in its complaint.

According to Mr. Forster, The Cloister had followed for many years prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Act “an open and notorious policy of discrimination against would-be Jewish guests.” He gave as an example a letter sent by The Cloister in 1962 which stated that “The Cloister and Sea Island throughout thirty-odd years of existence have had a predominantly Christian clientele.” This letter too was submitted to the Department of Justice with the League’s complaint.

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