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Brooke Refuses to Attend Party Given by Dirksen at Discriminatory Club

August 6, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Senator Edward Brooke, Massachusetts Republican, the only Negro member of the Senate, today told the JTA that he would not attend a party for leading Republicans at the Bath Club of Miami Beach. The club does not permit Jews or Negroes in its membership.

The party will be tendered by Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois, chairman of the platform committee of the Republican National Convention. It will be held Tuesday night.

Earlier, Senator Jacob Javits of New York said he would not accept the invitation he received because of the club’s policies. Sen. Dirksen dismissed complaints by stating categorically, that Sens. Javits and Brooke would attend.

Sen. Dirksen has failed to respond to a telegram from Henry E. Wolf, chairman of the Miami regional board of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League. Mr. Wolf said, “As you may know Republican national chairman Ray Bliss has taken the position that no functions of the convention will be held at clubs that are restricted. May we point out that the Bath Club’s membership policies are discriminatory on religious and racial lines. We urge that you consider the inappropriateness of holding your function at such a club.”

Party spokesmen here declared that the Dirksen reception was not an official function of the convention. Nonetheless, it was learned, the Illinois delegation, of which the Senator is a member, accepted an invitation to be guest of the Texas delegation at a Bath Club reception to be held tonight.

At a press conference, Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, in response to a question by JTA, termed the Bath Club reception “utterly ridiculous,” and said it “should be boycotted by all well-thinking people and those who profess to believe in the dreams and aspirations of Abraham Lincoln.” Rev. Abernathy said that Sen. Dirksen, as chairman of the committee which produced a platform expressing adherence to principles of human equality, should not be host at such a party. He commended Sens. Brooke and Javits for refusing to attend. He said such action as patronizing discriminatory clubs were among “the things that have spelled defeat in the past for the Republican Party.” He said the club will be picketed by Poor People’s representatives and the Negro community of the Miami area.

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