Box 17, Folder 15, Document 19

Dublin Core

Text Item Type Metadata


Gentlemen, I have the honor, privilege and responsibility of
serving as Mayor of the leading Southeastern City of Atlanta, Georgia.
Atlanta has a City population of slightly over 500,000 people and a
metropolitan population slightly over 1,100,000 people. The 500, 000
people that make up the central City of Atlanta consists of 300, 000
white citizens and slightly over 200, 000 Negro citizens. In general,

Atlanta is 60% white and 40% Negro.

Nowhere is the problem of the elimination of discrimination
. bwtween the races more prevalent than it is to the local elected official
who must wrestle with and solve this problem created by circumstances
beyond his control and then ignored by the responsible parties who should
lend definition to the solution. I speak of the problem as having been
brought into focus by Supreme Court decisions and then generally

ignored by the President and Congress of the United States.

Faced daily with the aheaan unsolvable problem of the elimination
of discrimination as directed by the Federal Courts, local officials must
often wonder where the Congress of the United States stands in offering
definition or explanation in the solution of the most difficult national

problem that we have ever had.

We cannot help but look with amusement. . . if not suspicion...

as certain members of the Congress and the Senate denounce the decisions

Page 2

of the Supreme Court and offer no relief to the dilemma that local
officials are confronted with in carrying out these decisions. You
gentlemen must be conscious of the fact that whereas President Kennedy
| has made two appointments to the Court and there are
Eisenhower appointments and Truman appointments and
Roosevelt appointments, only the Senate of the United
States has as an elected body the continuing function over the years of
approving all of these appointments. WhatIam saying, gentlemen is --
| ‘This te your Court that has brought into focus this problem and only you

could have changed its overall makeup through the years,

Regardless of our convictions, feelings or emotions in the matter
of racial discrimination, the time has come when we must face up to
simple facts, These facts are either --- we must eliminate racial
discrimination or you must provide a legal means for a two-caste system
in this country and carry out through legal enactment for local officials
to deal with such a system. You cannot continue to say that this is a local
preblem when it exists in ¢d4# nearly every city in America -- in nearly

every state in America -- and all across the Nation.

You have asked me here to give you the background of Atlanta's
local success in dealing with this grave problem. Basically we have only

been successful because we accepted the inevitability of the Court's
Page 3

decisions and attempted to solve them by local cooperation. It should

be perfectly plain that the solution in every instance granted to the

Negro citizen rights which white American citizens and American business
had previously reserved to themselves as special privileges. These
privileges have been carried out by a multitude of local and ffalte/ Whild
statewide ordinances that providdd for segregation in every dontetvable

form. I make it perfectly plain to you gentlemen that in not a single

instance have we enhanced or retained segregated privileges where we

have dealt with this matter.

Following a series of reasonable desegregation such as golf
courses and busses in the 50's, Atlanta took the following major steps

in the early 60's:

Date Area Action
9/61 Schools Court order

10/61 Department & variety stores voluntary action *
lunch counters

1/62 City Facilities voluntary (city officials)

5/62 Downtown and arts theatres voluntary *

5/63 Negro firemen hired voluntary (city officials)

6/63 Swimming pools Court order - voluntary
decision te open pools
(city officials)

18 leading hotels voluntary *

Approximately 33 leading restaurants voluntary *

Page 4

* In each instance voluntary action consisted of cooperative
action between operators of affected businesses and

responsible Negro leadership.

You can readily see that in some instances this has been under
Court action and in other instances has been voluntary priot to Court
action. In each instance it has resulted in the white citizen giving up
special privileges which he enjoyed under a segregated society and has
| resulted in the Negro ditizen being given rights which all other people

had and which he did not previously enjoy.

It would be well for me to explain to you how limited this
transition has been and how little of it the Negro citizen can participate
in even at this time, Out of hundreds of restaurants in Atlanta, the above
desegregation affects less than fifty of them. The hotel plan is based on
conventions and although prominent Negwoes have been accepted in several
hotels, the Negro citizen dé as a whole seldom shows up. With

200, 000 Negro citizens in Atlanta, one of Atlanta's leading restaurants

he e
had sixteen of them to dine/ a during the first week of ite desegregation

and has not had any since this day. All of this, gentlemen, is a question
of economics and it should be remembered that the right to use something
does not in any way indicate that it will be used ¢f or misused by the

lewer economic groups.

Page 5

The above statements concern the actual changes in Atlanta's

elimination of discrimination.

May I now submit to you my personal reasons why we think
Atlanta has resolved some of these problems whereas in other Southern
cities, the solution has seemed to be impossible and strife and conflict

have resulted,

It would be best for me to describe a recent visit of an official
delegation from a great Eastern city that has a Negro population of over
600,000 consisting of in excess of 20% of their whole population. They
came to Atlanta to determine why we had gone further with success and
were enjoying a great economic prosperity whereas they were having
unlimited racial problems and an unemployment rate of approximately
three times of what Atlanta's was. Iam not necessarily referring that
racial peace brings economic prosperity. However, in Atlanta, the two

have gone together.

This delegation simply did not understand and would hardly beliefe
that the business, civic and political interests of Atlanta had intently
concerned itself with its Negro population. I do not believe until yet
that they are convinced that all of our civic bodies backed by the public
interest and carried out by the City Government have daily concerned

themselves with an effort to solve our gravest problem -- ff and that is

Page 6

race relations. Gentlemen, Atianta has not swept this question under
the rug at any point. Step by step - sometimes under Court order -

sometimes voluntarily moving ahead of pressures - sometimes adroitly~-

and many times clumsily - we have tried to find a solution through an

agreement between the effected white ownership and the Negro leadership

to each of these problems.

To do this we have not appointed a huge bi-racial committee that
becomes a stop-gap for every conceivable question, but on the other hand
each time the problem has come inte focus, we have appointed theatre
owners to deal with the top Negro leaders - or hotel owners to deal with
the top Negro leaders - or voluntarily certain restaurant owners dealt
with the top Negro leadership , and by developing the lines of community

and respectability, we have been able to reach an amicable solution.

Other cities have worked equally as hard and in many instances
have failed and Kd I would like to explain to you Whef/J why I think we have

succeeded where they have sometimes failed,

Atlanta is the center of higher Negro education in the world,
There are six great Negro Universities and Colleges located inside our
City limits. They are Atlanta University, Clark College, Morehouse,
Morris Brown College, Spelman College and an interdenominational
religious seminary. As a result of higher education being available in
the area, @/a great number of intelligent, well-trained Negro citizens

have chosen to remain in this city. As a result of their training and

Page 7

higher education they have had the capacity to develop a great Negro
business community. In Atlanta it consists of financial institutions

like banks - building and loan associations - life insurance companies,
like the Atlanta Life Insurance Company - chain drug stores - real estate
dealers. In fact, they have developed, I believe, in almost every line of
acknowledged American business. Then there is another strong factor.
In Atlanta there is a strong daily Negro newspaper - The Atlanta Daily
World. Owned and operated by a prominent Negro family - the Scott
deci - they operate a chain of daily and weeklies throughout the country.
But it is the strength of a daily newspaper with vested interests backed by
an educated religious and business community that carries its voice to the

Negro citizens.

Do not be misled by the word "conservative" age they are as
desirous of additional civil and economic and personal rights as any
American citizen is. They simply realize that it is more important to
obtain these rights than it is to create demonstrations. And it is
to the end of obtaining these rights that they constantly address


public items show