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President Truman Pledges Federal Efforts in Eliminating Discrimination in Colleges

September 6, 1946
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Admitting the existence in America of “disturbing” evidence of racial prejudice, President Truman yesterday pledged the unsparing efforts of the National Commission on Higher Education in eliminating discrimination from the nation’s colleges.

Mr. Truman’s statement was made in answer to Charles G. Bolte, chairman of the American Veterans Committee, who had written him to call attention to the quota system applied by a number of colleges to members of minority groups. The President’s letter said:

“I am keenly aware of the fundamental problem of discrimination in education to which you have called specific attention and of the broader problem of intolerance which this discrimination symbolizes. Those who sincerely desire to see the fullest expression of our democracy can never rest until the opportunity for an education at all levels has been given to all qualified Americans, regardless of race, creed, color, national origin, sex or economic status.

“It was with this principle in mind that I asked the members of the Commission to consider ‘ways and means of expanding opportunities for all able young people.’ I am pleased that the Commission, in its first meeting recently concluded, has decided to deal specifically with this problem. I am sure that the members of the Commission will spare no effort in devising methods for eliminating existing barriers of discrimination affecting educational opportunity in our institutions of higher learning.

“We have only recently completed a long and bitter war against intolerance and hatred in other lands. A cruel price in blood and suffering was paid by the American people in bringing that war to a successful conclusion. Yet in this country today there exists disturbing evidence of intolerance and prejudice similar in kind, though perhaps not in degree, to that against which we fought the war.

“Discrimination, like a disease, must be attacked wherever it appears. This applies to the opportunity to vote, to hold and retain a job, and to secure adequate shelter and medical care no less than to gain an education compatible with the needs and ability of the individual.”

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