Box 19, Folder 17, Document 11

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Sunday, August 4, 1963

New York Ateraly Tribune

A Dixie Mayor and kights

By Walter Rugaber
Special to the Herald Tribune


For days the word went
out from the ~big business
men and civic leaders, the
political pros and public opin-
ion molders, the people in
Atlanta who usually count
the most.

“You're making a big mis-

The message was plain,
blunt and nearly unanimous.
Iyan Allen jr., the 52-year-
old merchant-turned-Mayor,
listened very carefully.

Then, all alone with his
courage, he flew off to Wash-
ington and went before the
Senate Commerce Commit-
tee to read a carefully drafted
14-page statement

“Gentlemen,” the’ Mayor
said firmly, “If I had your
problem, ‘armed with the lo-
cal experience I have had,
I would pass a public ac-
commodations law.”

Mr. Allen thus became the
first—and just possibly the
last—Southern politician to
yoice public approval of the
most controversial portion of
the civil rights bill.

The Mayor followed an
outraged squadron of South-
e!n political leaders, includ-
ing Gov. Ross R. Barnett of
Mississippi and Gov. George

| C. Wallace of Alabama. The
| air was heavy with denuncia-
| tion.

Sen, Strom Thurmond of
South Carolina, a member
of the Senate committee,
seemed hardly able to be-
lieve his ears at the Mayor's
stand. A lot of the home
folks had the same reaction,

“I wish ito nominate you,”
one man wrote, “as Mr. Maw
Mau of 1963. . . . I under-
stoad that you are a half-
brother of Martin Luther
King and that may explain
your position.”

It came as somewhat of a

| surprise that at least those

who wrote the Mayor sup-
ported his stand about 2 to 1
in initial stages of + yeac-
tion Jast week ale
“Deemiv ~ 1 of you,” a
- ae the ma-

Mr, Allen's

and city cham=
merce had moved
site direction, and
Political Observer

All Alone With His Courage ,

father’s multi-million dollar
office supply firm he became
president of both the city and
state chambers of commerce.

But now the board room
boys are a little on edge. None
of that “Mau Mau” stuff, of
course. While the Mayor's
political life may be damaged,
his personal stature is ad-
judged secure.

“Tt took a lot of courage to
do what he did,” one acquain-
tance-said with a-touch of
awe, “and if that’s his per-
sonal view —hell, I respect
him for it.”

Sure, the friend continued,
segregation is wrong. But a
Federal law against is some-
thing else. This was the crux
of the worry: Mr. Allen had
“deserted private enterprise.”

The prominent owner of
several cafeterias in town
sent the Mayor a long, sting-
ing telegram expressing shock
and disappointment, then
placed blown-up copies in his

But in perfect illustration
of the temper of things, the
man’s eating places were be-
ing picketed at the same time
by whites whose signs
branded him a “leader for

The cafeteria owner had de-
segregated most of his chain
last, June. His concern was not
civil rights, he insisted, but
the preservation of free enter-

The Mayor came back to
Atlanta and found two main
schools of thought about his
startling behavior before the
Commerce Commitee.

The least substantial ver-
sion put it down as a shallow

bid for Negro votes. But

seasoned observers said that
even with a full turnout he
would still need plenty of

For a quarter-century win-
ning Atlanta politics has been
based on a highly successful
“alliance” between Negroes
and the so-called “better-

~ class” whites.

And the thought was that
the latter might prefer free
enterprise over Mr. Alien
when the 1966 term comes up.
The Mayor has indicated that
he now intends to run again.
The seogd feeling about

Kennedy and was angling for
a Federal job.

Mr. Allen denied it stoutly,
insisting that he talked with
no one in Washington except
the commitiee official who
invited him to appear.

He later received a short
letter from. the President
which praised “a number of
effective points” in the state-
ment. Mayor Allen seemed
genuinely surprised by it.

About his testimony he says |

simply that the nation’s May-
ors have been ssuck out on 2
limb and left there to handle
the whole racial crisis by

The Supreme Court has |

been striking down sesgrega-
tion laws for years, he points
out, and yet no really solid
legislation has taken their


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