Box 19, Folder 18, Document 28

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Box 19, Folder 18, Document 28

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Monday July 29 1963
R ights of the Negro
-by Southerner
Senator says: ' I am humbled'
New York, July 28
It begins to appear that when everyone has had his
say befor e the Senate Commerce Committee, which
tomorrow begins its third week of hearings on the President's Civil Rights Bill, the complete transcript of the
testimony will constitute a classic State paper covering t he
spectrum of American opinion in mid-century on the status
of the Negro in American life.
The task of weighing the ·pros and cons fell to the
Commerce Committee because the legal loophole t hrough
which the a dministration hopes
to drive a Federal law is that
section of t he Constitution
whic h g rves to
ongress t e
power " to regulate comme rce
. .. among t he several Sta tes ."
hopes to
The Adml·ni·s"-ati·on
make it a Federal offe nce
to refuse to serve or to seat or to
accommodate anyone who enters
a store, a restau rant, a theatre,
or an hotel th at gets its fo od, its
furnish ings, or any other service
through inter-State commerce.
Hence the last-ditch resistance of
most of the Southern witnesses
on the grounds that such a law
would abolish or unconstitutionally restrict the right to
private property.
Since the heari ngs started, the
committee has heard from such
witnesses as the Rev. Martin
Luther Kin~, Attorney-General
Robert Kennedy, Secretary of
State Dean Rusk. the indignant
~vernor Wallace of Alabama
(" Is not the real purpose to
disarm this country as the Communists have planned?") , and
the learned Senator Sam Ervine,
of North Carolina, the famous
constitutional lawyer who call s
the Civil Rights Bill " as drastic
and indefensible a proposal as
has ever been submitted to this
ost remarkable
accepted the Supreme Court's
decisions as inevitable and as the
law of our land .. . .
"It has been a long, exhausting,
and often discouraging process,
and the end is far from beini in
sight. . . Step by step, sometimes
under court order, sometimes
volu ntarily, sometimes adroitly,
and many times clumsily, we have
tried to find a solution to each
agreement between the affected
while ownership and the Negro
' 'Fake action '
" Gentlemen, If I had your problem, armed with the local e perlence I have had, I would pass a
public accommodation bill.
" Now is the time for legislative
action. We cannot dodge the issue.
We cannot look back over our
shoulders or tum the clock back
to the 1860s. We must take action
now to assure a greater future for
our citizens and our country.
" A hundred years ago the
abolition of slavery won the US
the acclaim of the whole world
when it made every American
free in theorv. Now, the elimina•
tion of segregation, which Is
slavery's stepchild, is a challenge
to all of us to make every American free in fact . .. and again to
establish our nation as a true
champion of the free world."
When he had done, Senator
Thurmond of South Carolina, the
old Dixiecrat, leaped in, challengthe Mayar to deny that the
ru ings of the Supreme Court.
if incorporated in the bill, would
mean " compulsion." The Mayor
replied : " It would con\pel the
same rights to be given the
Negro citizen as the white citi7.en.
Yes, that's compulsion.
Federal law exercises some
compulsion ."
A Democrat of Michigan
j umped in to ask the Mayor if
he didn't think Atlanta's desegregation programme was " Communist inspired," a favourite
point of Senator Thurmond.
"Senator," said the Mayor,
" there are no more Communists
in Atlanta than there are on the
At the end, the chairman.
Senatol' John Pastore, Democrat
ot Rhodl' Island satd he apprec1atecl that 1t had b en
{I r
for a r Allen to a
at he
had al than 1t wo
b n
for mayors of
ct !es. " Mr Ma or '
nator Past e, " I am humb
Of all the witne6ses so far,
owever, the most remarkable,
and the most characteristic of
e South's agonising second
ughts, was the last one to
appear this weekend : Mr Ivan
!Allen, jun., the nationally known
Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, which
has, in the last year or two,
slowly at\d with ml.Wh dissension,
managed to desegregate its parks
and golf course1;, its restaurants,
, lunch counters, theatres, public
schools, and hotels.
Mr Allen's testimony needs no
gloss. It was a long statement
delivered without bombast, and
without much self-esteem either.
' Here are some of the most
typical passages, delivered in a
soft, almost apologellic Southern
" It is tru
h t At111nla has
achiev d success m cllmlnatin&
discrimination in areas where so.qie
other cities have failed, but we do
n t boast o{ our success ... we
have achieved It only becau!le we
looked acts In the face and your pres

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