Box 20, Folder 1, Document 131

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Ivan Allen

Need Accommodations Law

To Hold Gains, Mayor Says

As perceptive men of wide experience I feel confident that you will agree with me that this is

as serious a basic problem in the North, East and West as it is in the South.

It must be defined

as an all-American problem, which requires an all-American solution based on local thought,
local action and local cooperation. The 500,000 people who live within our city limits consist of

300,000 white citizens and slightly more than 200,000 Negro citizens.

That makes the population of

Atlanta 60 per cent white, 40 per cent Negro. That 60-40 percentage emphasizes how essential it is
for the people of Atlanta, on their local level, to solve the problem of racial discrimination in order
to make Atlanta a better place in which to live.

As the mayor of the South-

east’s largest city, I can say BR

to you out of first-hand experi-
ence and first-hand knowledge
that nowhere does the problem
of eliminating discrimination
between the races strike so
closely home as it does to the
public official. He is the man
who cannot pass the buck.
From this viewpoint, I speak
of the problem as having been
brought into sharp focus by de-

cisions of the Supreme Court of -

(This is a portion of the
text of the statement made to
the Senate Commerce Com-
mittee last Friday by Mayor
Ivan Allen Jr. of Atlanta.)

the United States and then gen- |
erally ignored by the presidents
and congresses of the United
States. Like a foundling baby,
this awesome problem has been
left on the doorsteps of local
governments throughout the na-

It is true that Atlanta has

achieved success in eliminating

discrimination in areas where
some other cities have failed,
but we do not boast of our suc-
cess. Instead of boasting, we
say with the h of those
who believe in reality that we
have achieved our measure of
suecess only because we looked
facts in the face and accepted
the Supreme Court's decisions
as inevitable and as the law of
our land. Having embraced
realism in general, we then set
out to solve specific problems
by local cooperation between
people of good will and good
sense representing both races.

Given Rights ———
Atlanta's. steps have been

taken in some instances in com-
pliance with court decisions, and

in other instances the steps have ©

been vekantery prior to any
court action. In
the action has resulted in white
citizens relinquishing special
privileges which they had en-
joyed under the practices of
racial discrimination. Each ae-
tion also has Soe in the Ne-
gro citizen being

tich all other:

; d
and or enich been

each instance.

Cae ae

Mayor Allen

that responsibility of the press

(and by this I mean radio and
television as well as the written
press) is inseparable from free-
dom of the press,

We are fortunate that we have
one of the world famous edi-

- torial spokesmien for reason and

moderation on one of our white
newspapers, along with other
editors and many reporters who
stress significance rather than
sensation in the reporting and
interpretation of what happens
in our eity.

As I see it, our Negro Jeader-
ship in Atlanta is responsible
and constructive. I am sure
that our Negro leadership is as
desirous of obtaining additional
civie and economie and person-
al rights as’ is any American
citizen. But by constructive I
mean. te define Atlanta's Negro
lea p as being realistic—
as recognizing that it is more

important to obtain the rights —

they seek than it is to stir up

So it is to the constructive
means by which these rights

’ ean be obtained that our Negro

leaders constantly address
themselves, They are interest-
ed in results instead of rhetoric.
They reach for lasting goals in-
stead of grabbing for momen-
iat ai They are real-

e rousers. Along _

Constitution of the United States.

Under this Constitution we have
always been able to do what is
best for all of the people of this
country. I beg of you not to let

. this issue of discrimination

drown in legalistic waters. I am
firmly convinced that the Su-

‘preme Court insists that the

same fundamental rights must
be held by every American

Atlanta is a case that proves
that the problem of discrimina-
tion can be solved to some ex-
tent... and I use this “some
extent” cautiously, . . . as we
certainly have not solved all of
the problems; but we have met
them in a number of areas. This
can be done locally, voluntarily,
and by private business itself!

On the other hand, there are
hundreds of communities and
cities, certainly throughout the
nation that have not ever ad-
dressed themselves to the issue.
Whereas, others have flagrantly
ignored the demand; and today,
stand in all defiance to any

The Congress of the United
States is now confronted with a
grave decision. Shall you pass a
public accommodation bill that
forces this issue? Or, shall you
create another round of disputes
over segregation by refusing to
pass such legislation?
Might Slip

Surely, the Congress realizes
that after having failed to take
any definite action on this sub-
ject in the last ten years, to fail
to pass the bill would amount to
an endorsement of ae
ness setting up an
status of digertnnlite
out the nation, Cities I like !

rela a i se
nient fcr ;

find it conve

the old status. Failure by Con-
gress to take “definite action at
this time is by inference an en-
dorsement of the right of pri-
vate business to practice Tas
cial discrimination and, in my
opinion, would start the same.
old round of squabbles and dem-
onstrations that we have had
in the past.

__ Gentlemen, if 1.

Now I would like to submit
my personal reasons why I[
think Atlanta has resolved some
of these problems while in other
cities, solutions have seemed
impossible and strife and con-
flict have resulted.

As an illustration, I would like
to describe a recent visit of an
official delegation from a great
Eastern city which has a Negro
population of over 600,000 con-
sisting of in excess of 20 per
cent of its whole population.

The members of this delega-
tion at first simply did not un-
derstand and would hardly be-
lieve that the business, civic and
political interests of Atianta had
intently concerned themselves
with the Negro population. I
still do not believe that they are
convinced that all. of our civic
bodies backed by the public in-
terest and supported by the city
government have daily con-
cerned themselves with an effort
to solve our gravest problem—
which is relations between our

Not Hidden

Gentlemen, Atlanta has not
swept this question under the
Tug at any point. Step by step—
sometimes under court order—
sometimes voluntarily moving
ahead of pressures—sometimes
adroitly—and many times clum-
sily—we have tried to find a so-
lution to each specific problem
through an agreement between
the affected white ownership
and the Negro leadership.

To do this we have not ap-
pointed a huge general bi-racial
committee which too often mere-
ly becomes a burial place for
unsolved problems. By contrast,
each time a specific problem
‘as come into focus, we have

opointed the people involved
work out the solution—thea-
,. owners to work with the top

‘gro leaders, or hotel owners

work with the top leadership, .

certain restaurant owners
sho of their own volition dealt
with the top Negro leadership.
By developing the lines of com-
munication and respectability,
we have been able to reach ami-
cable solutions.

Atlanta is the world’s center
of Negro higher education.
There are six great Negro uni-
versities and colleges located in-
side our city limits. Because of
this, a great number of intelli-
gent, well-educated Negro citi-
zens haye chosen to remain in
our city. As a result of their
education, they have had the
ability to develop a prosperous
Negro business community. i

Then there is another power-
ful factor working in the he-
half of good racial relations in
our city. We have news media,
both white and Negro, whose
leaders strongly believe and put
into practice the great truth



I do not believe that any sin-
cere American citizen desires
to see the rights of private busi-
ness restricted by the federal
government unless such restric-
tion is absolutely necessary for
the welfare of the people of this

On the other hand, following
the line of thought of the deci-
sions of the federal courts in
the past 15 years, I am not con-
vinced that current rulings of
the courts would grant to
American business the privilege
of driscrimination by race in the

‘selection of its customers.

What Is Right?

Here again we get into the
area of what is right and what
is best for the people of this
country. If the privilege of se-
lection based on race and color
should be granted then would
we be giving to business the
right to set up a segregated
economy? . .. And if so, how
fast would this right be utilized
by the nation’s people? ...
And now soon would we again
be going through the old turmoil
of riots, strife, demonstrations,
boycotts, picketing?

Are we going to say that it is
all right for the Negro citizen
to go into the bank on Main
Street and to deposit his earn-
ings or borrow money, then to
go to department stores to buy
what he needs, to go to the su-
permarket to purchase food for
his family, and so on along
Main Street until he comes to a
restaurant or a hotel — in all
these other business places he
is treated just like any other
customer—but when he comes
to the restaurant or the hotel,
are we going to say that it is
right and legal for the operators
of these businesses, merely as a
matter of convenience, to insist
that the Negro’s citizenship be

changed and that, as a second
class citizen, he is to be refused
service? I submit that it is not
right to allow an American’s
citizenship to be changed mere-
ly as a matter of convenience.

If the Congress should fail to
clarify the issues of the present
time, then by inference it would

' be saying that you could begin

discrimination under the guise
of private business. I do not be-
lieve that this is what the
Supreme Court has intended
with its decisions. I do not be-
lieve that this is the intent of
Congress or the people of this

I am not a lawyer, senators.
I am not sure I clearly under-
stand all of the testimony in-

volving various amendments to.

the Constitution and the com-
merce clause which has been
given to this committee. I have
a fundamental respect for the

experi ave
pass a public accommodation
bil. Such a bill, however,
should provide an opportunity
for each local government first
to meet this problem and at-
tempt to solve it on a local,
voluntary basis, with each busi- /
ness making its own decision.
I realize that it is quite easy to |
ask you to give an opportunity !
to each businessman in each’
city to make his decision and
accomplish such an objective
. but it is extremely difficult
to legislate such a problem.

What I am trying to say is
that the pupil placement plan, |
which has heen widely used in
the South, provided a time table
approved by the federal courts |
which helped in getting over the
troubled water of elimination of
discrimination in public schools. ,
It seems to me that cities work-
ing with private business insti- -
tutions could now move into the
same area and that the federal ’
government legislation should?
be based on the idea that those
businesses have a reasonable ;
time to accomplish such an act. ;

Last Resort x

I think a public accommoda-!
tion law now should stand only 1
as the last resort to assure that
discrimination is eliminated, but ®
that such a law would grant a
reasonable time for cities and
businesses to carry out this*
function before federal interven- §

It might even be necessary
that the time factor be made
more lenient in favor of small-
er cities and communities, for:
we all know that large metro-
politan areas have the capabili- 3
ty of adjusting to changes more
rapidly than smaller communi-

But the point I want to em,
phasize again is that now is the .
time for legislative action. We ,
cannot dodge the issue. We,
eannot look back over our
shoulders or turn the clock back
to the 1860s. We must take ac-
tion now to assure a greater |
future for our citizens and our |

A hundred years ago the abol-
ishment of slavery won the
United States the acclaim of the
whole world when it made every
American free in theory.

Now the elimination of segre-
gation, which is slavery’s step-
child, is a challenge to all of us
to make every American free
in fact as well as in theory—and
again fo establish our nation as
the true champion of the free

Mr, Chairman and members
of the committee, I want to
thank you for the opportunity
of telling you about Atlanta’s
efforts to provide equality of
citizenship to all within its


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