To Secure These Rights
the same year, mobs were prevented from lynching 22 persons, of whom 21 were Negroes, 1 white.
On July 20, 1946, a white farmer, Loy Harrison, posted bond for the release of Roger Malcolm from the jail at Monroe, Georgia. Malcolm, a young Negro, had been involved in a fight with his white employer during the course of which the latter had been stabbed. It is reported that there was talk of lynching Malcolm at the time of the incident and while he was in jail. Upon Malcolm's release, Harrison started to drive Malcolm, Malcolm's wife, and a Negro overseas veteran, George Dorsey, and his wife, out of Monroe. At a bridge along the way a large group of unmasked white men, armed with. pistols and shotguns, was waiting. They stopped Harrison's car and removed Malcolm and Dorsey. As they were leading the two men away, Harrison later stated, one of the women called out the name of a member of the mob. Thereupon the lynchers returned and removed the two women from the car. Three volleys of shots were fired as if by a squad of professional executioners. The coroner's report said that at least 66 bullets were found in the scarcely recognizable bodies. Harrison consistently denied that he could identify any of the unmasked murderers. State and federal grand juries reviewed the evidence in the case, but no person has yet been indicted for the crime.
Later that summer, in Minden, Louisiana, a young Negro named John Jones was arrested on suspicion of housebreaking. Another Negro youth, Albert Harris, was arrested at about the same time, and beaten in an effort to implicate Jones. He was then released, only to be rearrested after a few days. On August 6th, early in the evening, and before there had been any trial of the charges against them, Jones and Harris were released by a deputy sheriff. Waiting in the jail yard was a group of white men. There was evidence that, with the aid of the deputy sheriff, the young men were put into a car. They were then driven into the country. Jones was beaten to death. Harris, left for dead, revived and escaped. Five persons, including two deputy sheriffs, were indicted and brought to trial in a federal court for this crime. All were acquitted.
These are two of the less brutal lynchings of the past years. The victims in these cases were not mutilated or burned.
The record for 1947 is incomplete. There has been one lynching, one case in which the victim escaped, and other instances where mobs have been unable to accomplish their purpose. On February 17, I947, a Negro youth named Willie Earle, accused of fatally stabbing a taxi driver in the small city of Greenville, South Carolina, was removed from jail by a mob, viciously beaten and finally shot to death. In an unusual and impressive instance of state prosecution, 31 men were tried for this crime. All were acquitted on the evening of May 21,1947. Early the next morning, in Jackson, North Carolina, another Negro youth, Godwin Bush, arrested on a charge of approaching a white woman, was removed from a local jail by a mob, after having been exhibited through the town by the sheriff. Bush succeeded in escaping from his abductors, and, after hiding for two days in nearby woods, was able to surrender himself safely into the custody of FBI agents and officers of the state. The Committee finds it encouraging to note that the Governor of North Carolina has made vigorous efforts to bring to justice those responsible for this attempted lynching.
While available statistics show that, decade by decade, lynchings have decreased, this Committee has found that in the year 1947 lynching remains one of the most serious threats to the civil rights of Americans. It is still possible for a mob to abduct and murder a person in some sections of the country with almost certain assurance of escaping punishment for the crime. The decade from 1936 through 1946 saw at least 43 lynchings. No person received the death penalty, and the majority of the guilty persons were not even prosecuted.
The communities in which lynchings occur tend to condone the crime. Punishment of lynchers is not accepted as the responsibility of state or local governments in these communities. Frequently, state officials participate in the crime, actively or passively. Federal efforts to punish the crime are resisted. Condonation of lynching is indicated by the failure of some local law enforcement officials to make adequate efforts to break up a mob. It is further shown by failure in most cases to make any real effort to apprehend or try those guilty. If the federal government enters a case, local officials sometimes actively resist the federal investigation. Local citizens often
combine to impede the effort to apprehend the criminals by convenient "loss of memory"; grand juries refuse to indict; trial juries acquit in the face of overwhelming proof of guilt.
The large number of attempted lynchings highlights, even more than those which have succeeded, the widespread readiness of many communities to resort to mob violence. Thus, for seven of the years from 1937 to 1946 for which statistics are reported, the conservative estimates of the Tuskegee Institute show that 266 persons were rescued from threatened lynching. Over 200 of these were Negroes.
Most rescues from lynchings are made by local officials. There is heartening evidence that an ever-increasing number of these officers have the will and the courage to defend their prisoners against mob action. But this reflects only partial progress toward adequate law enforcement. In some instances lynchers are dissuaded by promises that the desired result will be accomplished "legally" and the machinery of justice is sometimes sensitive to the demands of such implied bargains. In some communities there is more official zeal to avoid mob violence which will injure the reputation of the community than there is to protect innocent persons.
The devastating consequences of lynchings go far beyond what is shown by counting the victims. When a person is lynched and the lynchers go unpunished, thousands wonder where the evil will appear again and what mischance may produce another victim. And every time lynchers go unpunished, Negroes have learned to expect other forms of violence at the hands of private citizens or public officials. In describing the thwarted efforts of the Department of Justice to identify those responsible for one lynching, J. Edgar Hoover stated to the Committee: "The arrogance of most of the white population of that county was unbelievable, and the fear of the Negroes was almost unbelievable."
The almost complete immunity from punishment enjoyed by lynchers is merely a striking form of the broad and general immunity from punishment enjoyed by whites in many communities for less extreme offenses against Negroes. Moreover, lynching is the ultimate threat by which his inferior status is driven home to the Negro. As a terrorist device, it reinforces all the other disabilities placed upon him. The
threat of lynching always hangs over the head of the southern Negro; the knowledge that a misinterpreted word or action can lead to his death is a dreadful burden.
We have reported the failure of some public officials to fulfill their most elementary duty -- the protection of persons against mob violence. We must also report more widespread and varied forms of official misconduct. These include violent physical attacks by police officers on members of minority groups, the use of third degree methods to extort confessions, and brutality against prisoners. Civil rights violations of this kind are by no means universal and many law enforcement agencies have gone far in recent years toward stamping out these evils.
In various localities, scattered throughout the country, unprofessional or undisciplined police, while avoiding brutality, fail to recognize and to safeguard the civil rights of the citizenry. Insensitive to the necessary limits of police authority, untrained officers frequently overstep the bounds of their proper duties. At times this appears in unwarranted arrests, unduly prolonged detention before arraignment, and abuse of the search and seizure power. Cases involving these breaches of civil rights constantly come before the courts. The frequency with which such cases arise is proof that improper police conduct is still widespread, for it must be assumed that there are many instances of the abuse of police power which do not reach the courts. Most of the victims of such abuses are ignorant, friendless persons, unaware of their rights, and without the means of challenging those who have violated those rights.
Where lawless police forces exist, their activities may impair the civil rights of any citizen. In one place the brunt of illegal police activity may fall on suspected vagrants, in another on union organizers, and in another on unpopular racial or religious minorities, such as Negroes, Mexicans, or Jehovah's Witnesses. But wherever unfettered police lawlessness exists, civil rights may be vulnerable to the prejudices of the region or of dominant local groups, and to the caprice of individual policemen. Unpopular, weak, or defenseless groups are most apt to suffer.
Considerable evidence in the files of the Department of Justice supports this assertion. For example, in one case in 1945 a group of white juvenile offenders made an abortive effort to escape from a midwestern prison. The attempt was quickly and fairly easily subdued. In the course of the attempt a trusty was injured. The prison officials, after rounding up the boys, allowed other trusties to vent their anger at the injury to their comrade by physically attacking the defenseless prisoners. After this had occurred the boys were then severely beaten, one by one, by the prison officials.
Much of the illegal official action which has been brought to the attention of the Committee is centered in the South. There is evidence of lawless police action against whites and Negroes alike, but the dominant pattern is that of race prejudice. J. Edgar Hoover referred, in his testimony before the Committee, to a particular jail where "it was seldom that a Negro man or women was incarcerated who was not given a severe beating, which started off with a pistol whipping and ended with a rubber hose."
The files of the Department abound with evidence of illegal official action in southern states. In one case, the victim was arrested on a charge of stealing a tire, taken to the courthouse, beaten by three officers with a blackjack until his head was a bloody pulp, and then dragged unconscious through the streets to the jail where he was thrown, dying, onto the floor. In another case, a constable arrested a Negro, against whom he bore a personal grudge, beat him brutally with a bullwhip and then forced his victim, in spite of his protestations of being unable to swim, to jump into a river where he drowned. In a third case, there was evidence that officers arrested a Negro maid on a charge of stealing jewelry from her employer, took her to jail and severely beat and whipped her in an unsuccessful effort to extort a confession. All of these cases occurred within the last five years.
There are other cases in the files of the Department of Justice of officers who seem to be "trigger-happy" where weak or poor persons are concerned. In a number of instances, Negroes have been shot, supposedly in self-defense, under circumstances indicating, at best, unsatisfactory police work in the handling of criminals, and, at worst, a callous willingness to kill.
Toward the end of the work of this Committee a particularly shocking instance of this occurred. On July 11, 1947, eight Negro prisoners in the State highway prison camp in Glynn County, Georgia, were killed by their white guards as they allegedly attempted to escape. The Glynn County grand jury exonerated the warden of the camp and four guards of all charges. At later hearings on the highway prison camp system held by the State Board of Corrections, conflicting evidence was presented. But one witness testified that there was no evidence that the prisoners were trying to escape. In any case, he said it was not necessary to use guns on them in the circumstances. "There was no justification for the killing. I saw the Negroes where they fell. Two were killed where they crawled under the bunkhouse and two others as they ran under their cells. The only thing they were trying to escape was death. Only one tried to get over the fence." The warden and four guards were indicted by a federal grand jury on October 1, 1947.
It is difficult to accept at face value police claims in cases of this type that action has been taken against prisoners in "self defense" or to "prevent escape." Even if these protestations are accepted, the incidence of shooting in the ordinary course of law enforcement in some sections of the country is a serious reflection on these police forces. Other officers in other places seem able to enforce the law and to guard prisoners without resort to violent means.
The total picture -- adding the connivance of some police officials in lynchings to their record of brutality against Negroes in other situations -- is, in the opinion of this Committee, a serious reflection on American justice. We know that Americans everywhere deplore this violence. We recognize further that there are many law enforcement officers in the South and the North who do not commit violent acts against Negroes or other friendless culprits. We are convinced, however, that the incidence of police brutality against Negroes is disturbingly high.
ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
In addition to the treatment experienced by the weak and friendless person at the hands of police officers, he sometimes finds that
the judicial process itself does not give him full and equal justice. This may appear in unfair and perfunctory trials, or in fines and prison sentences that are heavier than those imposed on other members of the community guilty of the same offenses.
In part, the inability of the Negro, Mexican, or Indian to obtain equal justice may be attributed to extrajudicial factors. The low income of a member of any one of these minorities may prevent him from securing competent counsel to defend his rights. It may prevent him from posting bail or bond to secure his release from jail during trial. It may predetermine his choice, upon conviction, of paying a fine or going to jail. But these facts should not obscure or condone the extent to which the judicial system itself is responsible for the less-than-equal justice meted out to members of certain minority groups.
The United States Supreme Court in a number of recent decisions has censured state courts for accepting evidence procured by third-degree methods, for failing to provide accused persons with adequate legal counsel, and for excluding Negroes from jury lists. For example, in one of these cases, Chambers v. Florida, the Supreme Court, in 1940, set aside the conviction by the state court of four young Negroes on the ground that it should have rejected confessions extorted from the accused by the use of third degree methods. The Court referred to the basic principle that "all people must stand on an equality before the bar of justice in each American court." It added:
Today, as in ages past, we are not without tragic proof that the exalted power of some governments to punish manufactured crime dictatorially is the handmaid of tyranny. Under our constitutional system, courts stand against any winds that blow as havens of refuge for those who might otherwise suffer because they are helpless, weak, outnumbered, or because they are nonconforming victims of prejudice and public excitement. Due process of law, preserved for all by our Constitution, commands that no such practice as that disclosed by this record shall send any accused to his death. No higher duty, no more solemn responsibility, rests upon this Court, than that of translating into living law and maintaining this constitutional shield deliberately planned and inscribed for the benefit of every human being subject to our Constitution -- of whatever race, creed, or persuasion.
It is particularly unfortunate that the jury system has not always served to protect the right of the minority member to a fair trial.
All too frequently trial by a jury of one's peers has no meaning for these persons because of the complete absence of people of their own kind from jury lists. While the Supreme Court and other appellate tribunals have reversed convictions made by juries selected from lists from which whole minority groups have been excluded, techniques of exclusion continue to be employed. For example, Pauline Kibbe, in her 1946 study of Latin Americans in Texas, states:
In an estimated 50 counties where the Latin American population ranges from 15 to 40 percent, persons of Mexican descent have never been known to be called for jury service, even in the trial of civil suits.
The use of the fee system in many communities -- where court officials are paid in whole or in part from the fines levied -- also sometimes stimulates arbitrary arrests and encourages unjust convictions. It is the unpopular minorities again that suffer most from this system, since it is relatively easy for unscrupulous, fee-seeking officers to "railroad" such persons to jail. The existence of the fee system and the frontier conditions in certain areas of Alaska contribute to discrimination against Indians and Eskimos in the administration of justice there. The situation is such that federal officials are seriously considering a proposal made by the Governor of Alaska to appoint a public defender for those groups.
The different standards of justice which we have allowed to exist in our country have had further repercussions. In certain states, the white population can threaten and do violence to the minority member with little or no fear of legal reprisal. Minority groups are sometimes convinced that they cannot expect fair treatment from the legal machinery. Because of this belief they may harbor and protect any of their members accused of crime. Their experience does not lead them to look upon the courts as "havens of refuge" for the victims of prejudice and public excitement.
Slavery was abolished in this country nearly a century ago, and in its traditional form has disappeared. But the temptation to force poor and defenseless persons, by one device or another, into a condition of virtual slavery, still exists. As recently as 1944, in the case of Pollock
v. Williams, the Supreme Court struck down as a violation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution an Alabama statute which enabled employers to force employees, in debt on account of advanced wage payments, to continue to work for them under threat of criminal punishment. This is one of the more subtle devices for securing forced labor. More direct is the practice whereby sheriffs in some areas free prisoners into the custody of local entrepreneurs who pay fines or post bonds. The prisoners then work for their "benefactors" under threat of returning to jail. Sometimes the original charge against the prisoners is trumped up for the purpose of securing labor by this means. In still other instances persons have been held in peonage by sheer force or by threats of prosecution for debt.
Since the Civil Rights Section was established in 1939, a widespread decline in peonage and involuntary servitude has occurred. However, the threat has not entirely disappeared. In 1945, the Department of Justice prosecuted a case in which a Negro woman and her ten year old son had been held in captivity by a Mississippi farmer. Forced to work on a farm by day, they were locked in a crude, windowless, chimneyless cabin by night. The mother had made three unsuccessful efforts to escape before federal authorities were informed of the situation. And as recently as 1947, an involuntary servitude case was successfully prosecuted by the federal government in California.
Where large numbers of people are frightened, uneducated, and underprivileged, the dangers of involuntary servitude remain. If economic conditions deteriorate, a more general recurrence of peonage may be anticipated.
THE WARTIME EVACUATION OF JAPANESE AMERICANS
The most striking mass interference since slavery with the right to physical freedom was the evacuation and exclusion of persons of Japanese descent from the West Coast during the past war. The evacuation of 110,000 men, women and children, two-thirds of whom were United States citizens, was made without a trial or any sort of hearing, at a time when the courts were functioning. These people were ordered out of a large section of the country and detained in "relocation centers." This evacuation program was carried out at
the direction of the Commanding General of the West Coast Command, who acted under an Executive Order authorizing the Secretary of War and the military commanders to prescribe military areas from which any person or group could be excluded.
The ground given for the evacuation was that the military security of the nation demanded the exclusion of potentially disloyal people from the West Coast. We have not felt that it would be proper or feasible for this Committee to try to review all of the facts of the evacuation program. We remember well the doubts and fears of the early months of the war and we recognize that the evacuation policy seemed a necessary precaution to many at the time: But we are disturbed by the implications of this episode so far as the future of American civil rights is concerned. Fundamental to our whole system of law is the belief that guilt is personal and not a matter of heredity or association. Yet in this instance no specific evacuees were charged with disloyalty, espionage or sedition. The evacuation, in short, was not a criminal proceeding involving individuals, but a sort of mass quarantine measure. This Committee believes that further study should be given to this problem. Admittedly in time of modern total warfare much discretion must be given to the military to act in situations where civilian rights are concerned. Yet the Committee believes that ways and means can be found of safeguarding people against mass accusations and discriminatory treatment.
Finally it should be noted that hundreds of evacuees suffered serious property and business losses because of governmental action and through no fault of their own. The War Relocation Authority, charged with the. administration of the evacuation program, recommended in its final report that some provision be made in federal law that claims for evacuation-caused property losses be "considered promptly and settled with a minimum of delay and inconvenience." Over a year has passed since then.
Also disturbing, though less spectacular, was the issuance by military authority during the recent war of individual orders of exclusion against citizens scattered widely throughout the "defense zones" established by the Army. These orders rested on the same Executive Order as did the mass evacuation of Japanese Americans. In the
case of these individual orders a citizen living perhaps in Philadelphia, Boston, or San Francisco was ordered by the Army to move. He was not imprisoned, for he could go to any inland area. He was not accused of criminal or subversive conduct. He was merely held to be an "unsafe" person to have around. Fortunately these violations of civil rights were not very numerous. Moreover, the Army lost confidence in the exclusion orders as effective security measures and abandoned them but not until more than 200 citizens had moved under military compulsion.
2. The Right to Citizenship and its Privileges
The status of citizenship is basic to the enjoyment of many of the rights discussed in this report. First of all one must be a citizen in order to participate fully in the political process of the United States. Only citizens of the United States are accorded the right to vote. Only citizens may hold public office. Only citizens, for these reasons, have an effective voice in our nation's affairs. Second, those barred from citizenship are thereby barred from many avenues of economic and social advancement open to American citizens.
All persons born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. These are the words of the Constitution. They set an ideal of native citizenship by which all persons born in this country are citizens without regard to race, color, creed, or ancestry. They also describe our practice, for we have in fact followed the ideal very closely. American-born children of aliens have encountered no barriers to citizenship.
In granting citizenship by naturalization, a democracy may establish reasonable tests of the individual alien's eligibility for citizenship. But some of the standards of eligibility in our naturalization laws have nothing to do with a person's fitness to become a citizen. These standards are based solely on race or national origin, and penalize some residents who may otherwise have all the attributes necessary for American citizenship. The largest group of American residents presently subject to this discrimination are those born in Japan.
Residents of Korean origin, as well as persons born in certain other Asiatic countries and Pacific Island areas, are also denied citizenship status. Although many of these people have lived in this country for decades, will probably remain here until they die, have raised families of native-born American citizens, and are devoted to American principles, they are forbidden an opportunity to attain the citizenship status to which their children are born.
We have recently removed many of these citizenship barriers. Until World War II, the Chinese had been specifically barred from immigration and from naturalization by the Chinese exclusion laws. Other groups, such as the Filipinos, Western Hemisphere Indians, and people indigenous to India, were denied citizenship through interpretation of the naturalization laws which limited eligibility to "whites" or "persons of African nativity or descent." We have made eligible for naturalization the "races of the Western Hemisphere;" we have made special provision to permit the naturalization of Chinese, Filipinos, and persons indigenous to India.
In addition to the disabilities suffered by ineligible aliens at the hands of private persons -- in employment, housing, etc. -- they are singled out for additional discrimination under the law. Arizona, California, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, and Oregon forbid or severely restrict land ownership by ineligible aliens. California also forbids ineligible aliens to engage in commercial fishing and excludes them from equal benefits of old age pensions and other state relief. Many states admit only citizens to the bar and to the medical, teaching, and other professions, which means that the ineligible alien is permanently barred from these fields.
The bar to land holding -- the "alien land law" -- most seriously impairs the alien's economic opportunities. The first of the alien land laws, enacted by California in 1913, made it illegal for aliens ineligible for citizenship either to buy agricultural land or to lease it for a period exceeding three years. Other western states passed similar laws. However, the alien land laws were not rigidly enforced, partly because it was often advantageous to lease or sell land to the Japanese and partly because of loopholes in the laws. During the second World War the California laws were made much more stringent.
California is now vigorously enforcing its amended alien land law. This law goes much further than to forbid ineligible aliens to own land. In effect, it forbids American citizens of Japanese ancestry to support their ineligible alien parents with money derived from the beneficial use of land. It has put in jeopardy the legal title of land purchased for American-born children by alien Japanese parents. Two examples of the effects of this law were cited before the Committee by a Japanese American veteran. In one instance, Japanese American soldiers killed overseas made battlefield wills deeding their land to their parents. The parents could not, under the law, receive the land. Accordingly, it escheated to the state. The other involved two Japanese American brothers who returned from overseas service to find that California had attacked the validity of the title of land purchased for them as children by their parents, and which they had cultivated as their own before entering the service.
These land laws and other manifestations of discrimination against ineligible aliens have been made possible by the discriminatory provisions of our naturalization laws. The moral impact of this situation is indicated by the words of the Japanese American veteran already referred to:
* * * I would like to say that I believe most of us fought as we did because we felt that, in spite of the way we had been kicked around, America was still the land of opportunity for all of us. I know my mother sent five of her sons. Every one volunteered for combat. One was killed. The rest of us were wounded. We have over thirty individual decorations and medals among us. Well, my mother wants to become a citizen. It is for people like my mother and for a lot of Americans of good will throughout the United States who have a lot of confidence in us and our loyalty that we did the job we did.
THE SPECIAL PROBLEM OF CITIZENSHIP IN GUAM AND AMERICAN SAMOA
The peoples of Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands are American citizens, either by birth or by naturalization, as are people in the 48 states. But the 35,000 inhabitants of Guam and American Samoa are in the anomalous position of being neither citizens nor aliens, but nationals of the United States. They have none of the rights of citizenship, yet owe allegiance to the United States. They do not have an organic act establishing a local government and guaranteeing
civil liberties, but are ruled by naval administrators who issue decrees, administer the laws, and sit as judges. At the request of the President, the present Congress is considering legislation giving citizenship to these people, providing them with a local government guaranteeing basic civil rights, and transferring the administration of the islands from the Navy to a civilian agency.
THE RIGHT TO VOTE
The right of all qualified citizens to vote is today considered axiomatic by most Americans. To achieve universal adult suffrage we have carried on vigorous political crusades since the earliest days of the Republic. In theory the aim has been achieved, but in fact there are many backwaters in our political life where the right to vote is not assured to every qualified citizen. The franchise is barred to some citizens because of race; to others by institutions or procedures which impede free access to the polls. Still other Americans are in substance disfranchised whenever electoral irregularities or corrupt practices dissipate their votes or distort their intended purpose. Some citizens -- permanent residents of the District of Columbia -- are excluded from political representation and the right to vote as a result of outmoded national traditions. As a result of such restrictions, all of these citizens are limited, in varying degrees, in their opportunities to seek office and to influence the conduct of government on an equal plane with other American citizens.
The denial of the suffrage on account of race is the most serious present interference with the right to vote. Until very recently, American Negro citizens in most southern states found it difficult to vote. Some Negroes have voted in parts of the upper South for the last twenty years. In recent years the situation in the deep South has changed to the point where it can be said that Negroes are beginning to exercise the political rights of free Americans. In the light of history, this represents progress, limited and precarious, but nevertheless progress.
This report cannot adequately describe the history of Negro disfranchisement. At different times, different methods have been employed. As legal devices for disfranchising the Negro have been held
unconstitutional, new methods have been improvised to take their places. Intimidation and the threat of intimidation have always loomed behind these legal devices to make sure that the desired result is achieved.
Until 1944, the white primary, by which participation in the Democratic primary is limited to white citizens, was used in Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi as the most effective modern "legal" device for disfranchising Negroes. While some southern Negroes succeeded in spite of various obstacles in voting in general elections, almost none voted in the Democratic primaries. Since the Democratic primary is the only election of any significance, the device of the white primary resulted in exclusion of Negroes from government in these states. Over a period of time, advocates of white supremacy had refined this device to the point where it seemed to be constitutionally foolproof. The command of the Fifteenth Amendment, prohibiting states from abridging suffrage because of race or color, was circumvented by purporting to vest the power to exclude Negroes in the political party rather than in the state.
But in 1944, the United States Supreme Court in the case of Smith v. Allwright overruled an earlier decision and held the Texas white primary illegal. It declared that the exclusion rules of the Texas Democratic Party were in effect the rules of the state and were therefore forbidden by the Fifteenth Amendment.
Some states adapted their primary laws to the Supreme Court ruling, others resisted, first, by refusing to open white primaries to Negroes until further litigation made the Texas ruling applicable to them, then, by devising other methods of depriving Negroes of the ballot. Today the effort to preserve the pure white electoral system in these states is continuing.
Two states, Louisiana and Texas, repealed white primary provisions immediately after the Supreme Court decision; Florida, Alabama, and Georgia were forced to do so by further court rulings. South Carolina called a special session of the state legislature at which all state laws in any way regulating primaries were repealed. The theory governing this action was that by placing the primaries entirely outside the law and the structure of government the ruling in Smith v. Allwright
would be rendered inapplicable. In a message to the special session of the general assembly, the Governor of the State said:
After these statutes are repealed, in my opinion, we will have done everything within our power to guarantee white supremacy in our primaries of our State insofar as legislation is concerned. Should this prove inadequate, we South Carolinians will use the necessary methods to retain white supremacy in our primaries and to safeguard the homes and happiness of our people.
White supremacy will be maintained in our primaries; let the chips fall where they may.
In 1947 the white primary in South Carolina, resting on its new foundation, was held invalid by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of South Carolina in the case of Elmore v. Harris. In its opinion the Court said:
Racial distinctions cannot exist in the machinery that selects the officers and lawmakers of the United States; and all citizens of this State and Country are entitled to cast a free and untrammeled ballot in our elections, and if the only material and realistic elections are clothed with the name "primary", they are equally entitled to vote there.
The case will undoubtedly be carried to the Supreme Court for a final decision.
Alabama took a different course from South Carolina. Instead of repealing the primary laws it sought to continue disfranchisement by establishing "qualifications" standards under which Negroes could be barred by administrative action. The "Boswell amendment" adopted by this state in November, 1946, set up a provision under which voters would be required "to understand and explain" provisions of the state constitution. Exclusion by this kind of device is a familiar southern phenomenon. The tradition is to ignore such tests with respect to white voters but to apply them to Negroes -- literally, where there is any possibility of eliminating them under the test; fraudulently, where they meet the test.
In a recent case in the Department of justice files, a Negro school teacher was disqualified under a North Carolina provision requiring an ability to read and interpret the Constitution. The registrar refused to register him on the ground that he had not read the federal Constitution in a satisfactory manner. However, in a statement to
the FBI the registrar declared, "my decision not to register him was based solely on the disfranchisement of the colored people in this country rather than on his ability to read, to write and to explain the Constitution." This case was subsequently prosecuted by the Department of Justice and resulted in the conviction of the registrar.
The poll tax -- another important legal obstacle to full suffrage in some southern states -- limits white as well as Negro suffrage. The poll tax has frequently had an unequal racial effect, since, like the "understand and explain" clauses, it has been administered in a discriminatory manner. It has been very effective as an anti-Negro device. A poll tax simply places the payment of a fee between the voter and the ballot box. In some states it is cumulative; taxes not paid in years when the voter does not go to the polls pile up and he must pay more than one year's tax before he can vote. The poll tax has curtailed the size of the entire electorate, white and Negro. Seven states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia -- still maintain this tax as a prerequisite to voting. Since 1921 four other states have abandoned the poll tax. These are North Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia.
It was estimated on the floor of the House of Representatives on July 21, 1947, that:
In the Presidential elections of 1944,10 percent of the potential voters voted in the seven poll-tax states, as against 49 percent in the free-vote states. In the congressional elections of 1946, the figures are 5 percent for the poll-tax states as compared with 33 percent for the free-voting states.
It has frequently been pointed out that the congressional representation of poll tax states is based on proportionately fewer voters than the representation of other jurisdictions. It has also been urged that the poll tax is in reality a tax levied by the state upon the citizen's federal right to vote for members of Congress. In recent years there has been a strong drive for federal legislation forbidding the requirement of a poll tax as a prerequisite to voting in federal elections. The House of Representatives passed an anti-poll tax bill for the fourth time in July of 1947. The three previous bills passed by the House were killed in the Senate.
In addition to formal, legal methods of disfranchisement, there are the long-standing techniques of terror and intimidation, in the face of which great courage is required of the Negro who tries to vote. In the regions most characterized by generalized violence against Negroes, little more than "advice" is often necessary to frighten them away from the polls. They have learned, through the years, to discover threats in mood and atmosphere. In one case in a deep southern state, a middle-class Negro who had courageously attempted to vote and to complain to the Department of justice when he was refused access to the polls, subsequently became so afraid of reprisal that he indicated uncertainty whether he would be willing to testify in court. He asked, if he should decide to testify, to be given ample notice of the date so that he could first move his family out of the region.
In past years, American Indians have also been denied the right to vote and other political rights in a number of states. Most of these restrictions have been abandoned, but in two states, New Mexico and Arizona, Indians continue to be disfranchised. The constitution of New Mexico withholds suffrage from "Indians not taxed." In Arizona the state constitution has been interpreted to deny the vote to Indians as being "persons under guardianship." Protests against these legal bans on Indian suffrage in the Southwest have gained force with the return of Indian veterans to those states.
The constitutionality of these laws is presently being tested. It has been pointed out that the concept of "Indians not taxed" is no longer meaningful; it is a vestige of the days when most Indians were not citizens and had not become part of the community of people of the United States. Indians are now citizens and subject to federal taxation. They are also subject to state taxes, except for lands held in trust for them by the United States government. There is therefore little justification for denying them the franchise on the assumption that they are excused from the burdens of other citizens.
THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS
Underlying the theory of compulsory wartime military service in a democratic state is the principle that every citizen, regardless of his station in life, must assist in the defense of the nation when its security
is threatened. Despite the discrimination which they encounter in. so many fields, minority group members have time and again met this responsibility. Moreover, since equality in military service assumes great importance as a symbol of democratic goals, minorities have regarded it not only as a duty but as a right.
Yet the record shows that the members of several minorities, fighting and dying for the survival of the nation in which they met bitter prejudice, found that there was discrimination against them even as they fell in battle. Prejudice in any area is an ugly, undemocratic phenomenon; in the armed services, where all men run the risk of death, it is particularly repugnant.
All of the armed forces have recently adopted policies which set as explicit objectives the achievement of equality of opportunity. The War Department has declared that it "intends to continue its efforts to make the best possible use of available personnel resources in the post-war Army and in any future emergency, without distinction as to race, religion, color or other non-military considerations." The Navy Department, speaking for both the Navy and the Marine Corps, has stated. that "No distinction is made between individuals wearing a naval uniform because of race or color. The Navy accepts no theory of racial differences in inborn ability, but expects that every man wearing its uniform be trained and used in accordance with his maximum individual capacity determined on the basis of individual performance." The Coast Guard has stressed "the importance of selecting men for what they are, for what they are capable of doing, and insisting on good conduct, good behavior, and good qualities of leadership for all hands...As a matter of policy Negro recruits receive the same consideration as all others."
However, despite the lessons of the war and the recent announcement of these policies, the records of the military forces disclose many areas in which there is a great need for further remedial action. Although generally speaking, the basis of recruitment has been somewhat broadened, Negroes, for example, are faced by an absolute bar against enlistment in any branch of the Marine Corps other than the steward's branch, and the Army cleaves to a ceiling for Negro personnel of about ten percent of the total strength of the service.
There are no official discriminatory requirements for entrance into the Navy and the Coast Guard, but the fact that Negroes constitute a disproportionately small part of the total strength of each of these branches of service (4.4 and 4.2 percent, respectively) may indicate the existence of discrimination in recruiting practices.
Within the services, studies made within the last year disclose that actual experience has been out of keeping with the declarations of policy on discrimination. In the Army, less than one Negro in 70 is commissioned, while there is one white officer for approximately every seven white enlisted men. In the Navy, there are only two Negro officers in a ratio of less than one to 10,000 Negro enlisted men; there are 58,571 white officers, or one for every seven enlisted whites. The Marine Corps has 7,798 officers, none of whom is a Negro, though there are 2,190 Negro enlisted men. Out of 2,981 Coast Guard officers, one is a Negro; there are 910 Negro enlisted men. The ratio of white Coast Guard commissioned to enlisted personnel is approximately one to six.
Similarly, in the enlisted grades, there is an exceedingly high concentration of Negroes in the lowest ratings, particularly in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Almost 8o percent of the Negro sailors are serving as cooks, stewards, and steward's mates; less than two percent of the whites are assigned to duty in the same capacity. Almost 15 percent of all white enlisted marines are in the three highest grades; less than 2 1/2 percent of the Negro marines fall in the same category. The disparities in the Coast Guard are similarly great. The difference in the Army is somewhat smaller, but still significant: Less than nine percent of the Negro personnel are in the first three grades, while almost 16 percent of the whites hold these ranks.
Many factors other than discrimination contribute to this result. However, it is clear that discrimination is one of the major elements which keeps the services from attaining the objectives which they have set for themselves.
The admission of minorities to the service academies and other service schools is another area in which the armed forces have enjoyed relatively little success in their efforts to eliminate discrimination. With regard to schools within the services, the disparities indicate that selection for
advanced training is doubtless often made on a color basis. As for the service academies, in the course of the last seventy-five years the Military Academy at West Point admitted a total of only thirty-seven Negro cadets, while the Naval Academy at Annapolis admitted only six. The Coast Guard Academy, while it selects applicants on the basis of open, competitive examinations without regard to color, has no knowledge of any Negro ever having been accepted. The absence of Negroes from the service academies is unfortunate because it means that our officers are trained in an undemocratic environment and are denied the opportunity to learn at an early stage in their service careers that men of different races can work and fight together harmoniously.
State authorities promulgate the regulations concerning enlistment of Negroes and the formation of Negro units in the National Guard. Most states do not have Negro units; of those that do, all but three require segregation by regulation. Of thirty-four states answering an inquiry made by the President's Advisory Commission on Universal Training, only two permit the integration of Negroes with white units. The Commission, commenting on discrimination, observed that it "considers harmful the policies of the states that exclude Negroes from their National Guard units. The civilian components should be expanded to include all segments of our population without segregation or discrimination. Total defense requires the participation of all citizens in our defense forces."
Looking to the future, the Commission also found that some of the present practices of the armed forces would negate many of the benefits of the proposed universal training program. Speaking of this program, it said:
* * * it must provide equality of privilege and opportunity for all those upon whom this obligation rests. Neither in the training itself, nor in the organization of any phase of this program, should there be discrimination for or against any person or group because of his race, class, national origin, or religion. Segregation or special privilege in any form should have no place in the program. To permit them would nullify the important living lesson in citizenship which such training can give. Nothing could be more tragic for the future attitude of our people, and for the unity of our nation, than a program in which our Federal Government forced our young manhood to live for a period of time in an atmosphere which emphasized or bred class or racial differences.
When an individual enters the service of the country, he necessarily surrenders some of the rights and privileges which inhere in American citizenship. The government in return undertakes to protect his integrity as an individual and the dignity of his profession. He is entitled to enjoy the respect which should be shown the uniform of the armed services of the United States by all persons. Unfortunately, however, the uniform is not always accorded the esteem it warrants. Some of our servicemen are all too often treated with rudeness and discourtesy by civil authorities and the public. There are numerous instances in which they have been forced to move to segregated cars on public carriers. They have been denied access to places of public accommodation and recreation. When they attempt to assert their rights, they are sometimes met with threats and even outright attack. Federal officials find they have no present authority to intervene directly to protect men in uniform against such abuses.
The record is not without its brighter side. A start has been made toward eliminating differentials in opportunity and treatment of minorities in the armed forces. The Army is making experimental use of small all-Negro units as organic parts of large white organizations. Significantly, of the thirty-seven Negroes admitted to the Academy at West Point since 1870, twenty-one were accepted in the last ten years. In 1947, five Negroes were accepted, the largest enrollment of Negro cadets for a single year in the last seventy-five years. The Navy has adopted a policy of non-segregation and has officially opened all branches to all personnel. The Coast Guard has abandoned, as a matter of policy, the restriction of Negro guardsmen to duty as cooks, stewards, and bakers. Training courses, indoctrination programs, pamphlets, and films have been provided for officers and enlisted men in the Army and Navy to promote understanding between groups and to facilitate the use of minority personnel.
But the evidence leaves no doubt that we have a long way to go. The armed forces, in actual practice, still maintain many barriers to equal treatment for all their members. In many cases, state and local agencies and private persons disregard the dignity of the uniform. There is much that remains to be done, much that can be done at once. Morally, the failure to act is indefensible. Practically, it costs lives and
money in the inefficient use of human resources. Perhaps most important of all, we are not making use of one of the most effective techniques for educating the public to the practicability of American ideals as a way of life. During the last war we and our allies, with varying but undeniable success, found that the military services can be used to educate citizens on a broad range of social and political problems. The war experience brought to our attention a laboratory in which we may prove that the majority and minorities of our population can train and work and fight side by side in cooperation and harmony. We should not hesitate to take full advantage of this opportunity.
3. The Right to Freedom of Conscience and Expression
This right is an expression of confidence in the ability of freemen to learn the truth through the unhampered interplay of competing ideas. Where the right is generally exercised, the public benefits from the selective process of winnowing truth from falsehood, desirable ideas from evil ones. If the people are to govern themselves their only hope of doing so wisely lies in the collective wisdom derived from the fullest possible information, and in the fair presentation of differing opinions. The right is also necessary to permit each man to find his way to the religious and political beliefs which suit his private needs.
This Committee has made no extensive study of our record under the great freedoms which comprise this right: religion, speech, press, and assembly. To have done so would have meant making this vast field the dominant part of our inquiry. We were not prepared to do this, partly because it has been and is being well studied by others. What finally determined us was the conviction that this right is relatively secure. Americans worship as they choose. Our press is freer from government restraints than any the world has seen. Our citizens are normally free to exercise their right to speak without fear of retribution, and to assemble for unlimited public discussions. There still are, however, communities in which sporadic interferences with the rights of unpopular religious, political, and economic groups take place. The steady flow of federal court cases in recent years involving groups like the Jehovah's Witnesses proves that.
At the present time, in our opinion, the most immediate threat to the right to freedom of opinion and expression is indirect. It comes from efforts to deal with those few people in our midst who would destroy democracy. There are two groups whose refusal to accept and abide by the democratic process is all too clear. The first are the Communists whose counterparts in many countries have proved, by their treatment of those with whom they disagree, that their ideology does not include a belief in universal civil rights. The second are the native Fascists. Their statements and their actions -- as well as those of their foreign counterparts -- prove them to be equally hostile to the American heritage of freedom and equality.
It is natural and proper for good citizens to worry about the activities of these groups. Every member of this Committee shares that concern. Communists and Fascists may assert different objectives. This does not obscure the identity of the means which both are willing to use to further themselves. Both often use the words and symbols of democracy to mask their totalitarian tactics. But their concern for civil rights is always limited to themselves. Both are willing to lie about their political views when it is convenient. They feel no obligation to come before the public openly and say who they are and what they really want.
This Committee unqualifiedly opposes any attempt to impose special limitations on the rights of these people to speak and assemble. Our national past offers us two great touchstones to resolve the dilemma of maintaining the right to free expression and yet protecting our democracy against its enemies. One was offered by Jefferson in his first inaugural address: "If there be any among us who wish to dissolve the Union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it." The second is the doctrine of "clear and present danger." This was laid down as a working principle by the Supreme Court in 1919 in Schenck v. United States in an opinion written by Justice Holmes. It says that no limitation of freedom of expression shall be made unless "the words are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive
evils that Congress has a right to prevent." The next year in a dissenting opinion in Schaefer v. United States Justice Brandeis added this invaluable word of advice about the application of the doctrine: "Like many other rules for human conduct, it can be applied correctly only by the exercise of good judgment, and in the exercise of good judgment, calmness is, in time of deep feeling and on subjects which excite passion, as essential as fearlessness and honesty."
It is our feeling that the present threat to freedom of opinion grows out of the failure of some private and public persons to apply these standards. Specifically, public excitement about "Communists" has gone far beyond the dictates of the "good judgment" and "calmness" of which Holmes and Brandeis spoke. A state of near hysteria now threatens to inhibit the freedom of genuine democrats.
At the same time we are afraid that the "reason" upon which Jefferson relied to combat error is hampered by the successful effort of some totalitarians to conceal their true nature. To expect people to reject totalitarians, when we do not provide mechanisms to guarantee that essential information is available, is foolhardy. These two concerns go together. If we fall back upon hysteria and repression as our weapons against totalitarians, we will defeat ourselves. Communists want nothing more than to be lumped with freedom-loving non-Communists. This simply makes it easier for them to conceal their true nature and to allege that the term "Communist" is "meaningless." Irresponsible opportunists who make it a practice to attack every person or group with whom they disagree as "Communists" have thereby actually aided their supposed "enemies." At the same time we cannot let these abuses deter us from the legitimate exposing of real Communists and real Fascists. Moreover, the same zeal must be shown in defending our democracy against one group as against the other.
Efforts to protect the government against disloyal employees may lead to dangerous "Red hunting". We firmly believe that the government has the obligation to have in its employ only citizens of unquestioned loyalty. We are, moreover, aware of the disclosures made
in the Canadian espionage trials which reveal concerted attempts by Communists to procure secret government information either directly or through dupes. We also know that Communists feel no obligation to identify themselves as members of their party, and have completely divided loyalties, which make them dangerous in posts of government responsibility. We are further aware that there are certain governmental agencies which because of the confidential and highly secret character of their work must have absolute assurance of the complete loyalty of all their employees.
All of these factors make it difficult to maintain effective security. Several statutes now on the books make it possible to prosecute any federal employee who reveals restricted information. Those dissatisfied with these safeguards argue that the concealment by Communists and other subversives of their affiliations makes it impossible to weed them out until they have done serious damage. Therefore, they contend, it is necessary to have the loyalty of all federal employees checked by security police agencies. This Committee recognizes the need for some such protective measures. Yet our whole civil liberties history provides us with a clear warning against the possible misuse of loyalty checks to inhibit freedom of opinion and expression.
There are two possible dangers. In the first place, the standards by which the loyalty of an individual or an organization is to be determined may not be clearly defined. This is particularly true of any standard which permits condemnation of persons or groups because of "association." The character, the policies and the leadership of many organizations change. Individuals, too, change their opinions. The greatest care must be taken to avoid the misinterpretation of affiliation. Individuals may be members of suspect organizations out of ignorance. Before such affiliations may even be considered as relevant, the motive of the individual should be clearly established. The determination of the suspect character of organizations is complex and must be handled with the greatest care. For the individual the ultimate test must always be his own trustworthiness. Affiliation with a dubious organization is, by itself, not necessarily proof of untrustworthiness.
A second danger is that the procedure by which the loyalty of
accused federal employees is determined may not accord with our traditions of due process of law. An employee whose loyalty is questioned is not charged with a crime. But loss of job and inability to obtain another one is a severe punishment to impose on any man. Accordingly, provision should be made for such traditional procedural safeguards as the right to a bill of particular accusations, the right to subpoena witnesses and documents where genuine security considerations permit, the right to be represented by counsel, the right to a stenographic report of proceedings, the right to a written decision, and the right of appeal.
More than the civil rights of our two million federal workers -- important as they are -- is involved here. All Americans are bound to be affected by what is done. The federal government must maintain a loyalty program which adequately protects the civil rights of its employees. Otherwise private employers and state and local governments may not protect the rights of their personnel, and in fact they may actually be encouraged to infringe these rights. It is a severe punishment to be discharged from the government for disloyalty, as the Supreme Court pointed out in 1946 in United States v. Lovett. Our system of democratic justice has proved again and again its ability to protect us in peace and in war. To make a conspicuous departure from it against government workers would surely weaken the safeguards of the right of all citizens to speak freely and to organize in furtherance of their opinions. Here as elsewhere, the federal government must set an example for the rest of the country by being uncommonly scrupulous in its respect for the civil rights of all citizens.
ENEMIES OF DEMOCRACY
As we have said, one of the things which totalitarians of both left and right have in common is a reluctance to come before the people honestly and say who they are, what they work for and who supports them. Those persons in our own country who try to stir up religious and racial hatreds are no exception. They understand that the vicious doctrines which they advocate have been morally outlawed in America for more than a century and a half. This Committee is as eager to guarantee their civil rights as those of the people they attack. But we do not
believe in a definition of civil rights which includes freedom to avoid all responsibility for one's opinions. This would be an unwise and disastrous weakening of the democratic process. If these people wish to influence the public in our national forum of opinion they should be free to do so, regardless of how distasteful their views are to us. But the public must be able to evaluate these views. Exactly how much anonymous, hate mongering or other subversive literature there is we do not know. The amount of such matter fluctuates greatly from time to time. At the present, according to several witnesses who appeared before the Committee, many of those who spread racial and religious prejudices have "gone underground." As recently as 1940, however, a study by the staff of the Senate Committee on Campaign Expenditures revealed that one-third of the election propaganda in the campaign of that year was completely anonymous and that one-half was partially and inadequately identified as to source and sponsorship. Moreover, the Committee reported that the anonymous material included "the most virulent, dishonest and defamatory propaganda." Congress has already taken the first step to remedy this inadequacy by amending the election laws to forbid the distribution of anonymous campaign literature.
The principle of disclosure is, we believe, the appropriate way to deal with those who would subvert our democracy by revolution or by encouraging disunity and destroying the civil rights of some groups. We have considered and rejected proposals which have been made to us for censoring or prohibiting material which defames religious or racial minority groups. Our purpose is not to constrict anyone's freedom to speak; it is rather to enable the people better to judge the true motives of those who try to sway them.
Congress has already made use of the principle of disclosure in both the economic and political spheres. The Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the Pure Food and Drug Administration make available to the public information about sponsors of economic wares. In the political realm, the Federal Communications Commission, the Post Office Department, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, and the Secretary of the Senate -- all of these under various statutes -- are required to collect information about those
who attempt to influence public opinion. Thousands of statements disclosing the ownership and control of newspapers using the second-class mailing privilege are filed annually with the Post Office Department. Hundreds of statements disclosing the ownership and control of radio stations are filed with the Federal Communications Commission. Hundreds of lobbyists are now required to disclose their efforts to influence Congress under the Congressional Reorganization Act. In 1938, Congress found it necessary to pass the Foreign Agents Registration Act which forced certain citizens and aliens alike to register with the Department of Justice the facts about their sponsorship and activities. The effectiveness of these efforts has varied. We believe, however, that they have been sufficiently successful to warrant their further extension to all of those who attempt to influence public opinion.
The ultimate responsibility for countering totalitarians of all kinds rests, as always, with the mass of good, democratic Americans, their organizations and their leaders. The federal government must set an example of careful adherence to the highest standards in guaranteeing freedom of opinion and expression to its employees. Beyond that it ought to provide a source of reference where private citizens and groups may find accurate information about the activities, sponsorship, and background of those who are active in the market place of public opinion.
4. The Right to Equality of Opportunity
THE RIGHT TO EMPLOYMENT
A man's right to an equal chance to utilize fully his skills and knowledge is essential. The meaning of a job goes far beyond the paycheck. Good workers have a pride in the organization for which they work and feel satisfaction in the jobs they are doing. A witness before a congressional committee has recently said:
Discrimination in employment damages lives, both the bodies and the minds, of those discriminated against and those who discriminate. It blights and perverts that healthy ambition to improve one's standard of living which we like to say is peculiarly American. It generates insecurity, fear, resentment, division and tension in our society.
In private business, in government, and in labor unions, the war years saw a marked advance both in hiring policies and in the removal of on-the-job discriminatory practices. Several factors contributed to this progress. The short labor market, the sense of unity among the people, and the leadership provided by the government all helped bring about a lessening of unfair employment practices. Yet we did not eliminate discrimination in employment. The Final Report of the federal Fair Employment Practice Committee, established in 1941 by President Roosevelt to eliminate discrimination in both government and private employment related to the war effort, makes this clear.
Four out of five cases which arose during the life of the Committee, concerned Negroes. However, many other minorities have suffered from discriminatory employment practices. The FEPC reports show that eight percent of the Committee's docket involved complaints of discrimination because of creed, and 70 percent of these concerned Jews. It should be noted that FEPC jurisdiction did not extend to financial institutions and the professions, where discrimination against Jews is especially prevalent. Witnesses before this Committee, representing still other minority groups, testified as follows:
The Japanese Americans: "We know, too, what discrimination in employment is. We know what it means to be unacceptable to union membership; what it means to be the last hired and first fired; what it means to have to work harder and longer for less wages. We know these things because we have been forced to experience them."
The Mexican Americans: "We opened an employment bureau (to help Mexican Americans) in our office last year for San Antonio. We wrote to business firms throughout the city, most of whom didn't answer. We would call certain firms and say that we heard they had an opening for a person in a stock room or some other type of work; or I would go myself. But thinking I was the same in prejudice as they, they would say, `You know we never hire Mexicans'."
The American Indians: "As with the Negroes, Indians are employed readily when there is a shortage of labor and they can't get anyone else. When times get better, they are the first ones to be released."
Discriminatory hiring practices. -- Discrimination is most acutely felt by minority group members in their inability to get a job suited to
their qualifications. Exclusions of Negroes, Jews, or Mexicans in the process of hiring is effected in various ways -- by newspaper advertisements requesting only whites or gentiles to apply, by registration or application blanks on which a space is reserved for "race" or "religion," by discriminatory job orders placed with employment agencies, or by the arbitrary policy of a company official in charge of hiring.
A survey conducted by the United States Employment Service and contained in the Final Report of the Fair Employment Practice Committee reveals that of the total job orders received by USES offices in 11 selected areas during the period of February 1-15, 1946, 24 percent of the orders were discriminatory. Of 38,195 orders received, 9,171 included specifications with regard to race, citizenship, religion, or some combination of these factors.
The National Community Relations Advisory Council has studied hiring practices since V-J Day. A 1946 survey of the practices of 134 private employment agencies in 10 cities (Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and San Francisco) disclosed that 89 percent of these agencies included questions covering religion on their registration forms. In Chicago, a statistical count of discriminatory job orders was made by one of the largest commercial agencies in the city. This revealed that 6o percent of the executive jobs, 50 percent of the sales executive jobs, and 41 percent of the male clerical openings, and 24 percent of the female clerical openings were closed to Jews. Fully 83 percent of all orders placed with the agency carried discriminatory specifications. A companion study of help-wanted ads conducted in eight major cities during corresponding weeks in 1945 and 1946 showed that while the total volume of help-wanted advertising had declined, there was an over-all increase of 195 percent in discriminatory ads for 1946 over 1945.
The minority job seeker often finds that there are fields of employment where application is futile no matter how able or well-trained he is. Many northern business concerns have an unwritten rule against appointing Jews to executive positions; railroad management and unions discourage the employment of Negroes as engineers or conductors.
In some of our territories which are fairly free from other discrimination,
unfair employment practices occur. Some of the larger business firms in Hawaii will not hire clerical or stenographic workers of Japanese ancestry where the public can see the worker. In Puerto Rico, with its large Negro population, generally only white people or very light colored persons are employed by banks, sugar corporations, airlines, shipping companies, and large department stores in clerical and executive positions.
Discrimination in hiring has forced many minority workers into low paying and often menial jobs such as common laborer and domestic servant. This has done much to bring about the situation reported by the Bureau of the Census in 1940 --
Striking differences between the occupations of whites and Negroes were shown in 1940 census statistics. Farmers, farm laborers, and other laborers constituted 62.2 percent of all employed Negro men and only 28.5 percent of all employed white men. Only about 5 percent of all employed Negro men, compared with approximately 30 percent of employed white men, were engaged in professional, semiprofessional, proprietary, managerial, and clerical or sales occupations. Skilled craftsmen represented 15.6 percent of employed white men and only 4.4 percent of employed Negro men. More than half of the Negro craftsmen were mechanics, carpenters, painters, plasterers and cement finishers, and masons.
On-the-job discrimination. -- If he can get himself hired, the minority worker often finds that he is being paid less than other workers. This wage discrimination is sharply evident in studies made of individual cities and is especially exaggerated in the South. A survey, conducted by the Research and Information Department of the American Federation of Labor shows that the average weekly income of white veterans ranges from 30 to 78 percent above the average income of Negro veterans in 26 communities, 25 of them in the South. In Houston, for example, 36,000 white veterans had a weekly income of $49 and 4,000 Negro veterans had average incomes of $30 -- a difference of 63 percent. These differences are not caused solely by the relegation of the Negroes to lower types of work, but reflect wage discriminations between whites and Negroes for the same type of work. The Final Report of the FEPC states that the hourly wage rates for Negro common laborers averaged 47.4 cents in July, 1942, as compared with 65.3 cents for white laborers.
Nor can the disparity be blamed entirely on differences in education and training. The 1940 census reveals that the median annual income of Negro high school graduates was only $775 as compared with $1,454 for the white high school graduate; that the median Negro college graduate received $1,074 while his white counterpart was earning $2,046; that while 23.3 percent of white high school graduates had wage or salary incomes over $2,000, but four percent of Negro graduates achieved that level.
In presenting this evidence, the Committee is not ignoring the fact that an individual Negro worker may be less efficient than an individual white worker or vice versa. Nor does it suggest that wage differences which reflect actual differences in the competence of workers are unjustifiable. What is indefensible is a wage discrimination based, not on the worker's ability, but on his race.
While private business provided almost 70 percent of all cases docketed by the FEPC for the fiscal year 1943-44, about a fourth of the complaints were against the federal government itself. This at once calls to question the effectiveness of the Civil Service Commission rules against such discrimination, and the various departments' directives and executive orders that have restated this policy of non-discrimination from time to time.
A case study, conducted in one government agency by the National Committee on Segregation in the Nation's Capital, demonstrates a pattern of discrimination existing in government service. Samples of Negro and white workers in this agency were matched for the variables of age, sex, marital status, educational level, length of service, division in which inducted, and job title and grade at which inducted. Out of 503 whites and 292 Negroes inducted into the agency in the fiscal year 1946, 40 pairs were perfectly matched for these variables. A few more Negroes than whites had veteran status, but the average efficiency ratings for the two groups were exactly the same.
A check on promotion and resignation for the sample was made in April, 1947, It was found that the whites had received 12 grade promotions in a total service of 22 years. This was an average of one promotion for each two man-years of service. The Negroes had received two grade promotions in a total service of 28 man-years. This was one
promotion for each 14 man-years. In other words, it took the average Negro seven times as long as the average white to get a promotion, in spite of the fact that almost all of the variables which could affect promotion were exactly the same.
Finally, labor unions are guilty of discriminatory labor practices. Six percent of the complaints received by the FEPC were made against unions, and the FEPC states that when challenged, private industry eliminated discrimination much more readily than did unions. On the other hand, it should be noted that great strides have been made in the admission of minorities to unions. Both the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations have repeatedly condemned discriminatory union practices. But the national organizations have not yet fully attained their goals. Some railway unions have "Jim Crow" auxiliaries into which Negroes, Mexicans, or Orientals are shunted, with little or no voice in union affairs. Furthermore, there is a rigid upper limit on the type of job on which these members can be employed.
There is a danger that some of our wartime gains in the elimination of unfair employment practices will be lost unless prompt action is taken to preserve them. In the federal government, the employment of Negroes jumped from 40,000 before the war to 300,000 in 1944. And while only 10 percent of all Negroes employed in government held jobs other than custodial in 1938, 60 percent of the Negroes in 1944 were employed in clerical and professional categories. The chief danger at present looms in the form of discriminatory cut-backs of Negro personnel who were hired very largely by wartime agencies, and in the refusal by other agencies in the government to hire these "displaced employees."
In private industry, minority workers were heavily concentrated in war industries, which since the end of the war have suffered drastic cut backs. In other industries the termination of manpower controls has encouraged some employers to resume prewar policies of exclusion or discriminatory treatment of minority workers. The first sentence in the summary of the FEPC Final Report bluntly observes that "the wartime gains of Negro, Mexican American, and Jewish workers are being lost through an unchecked revival of discriminatory practices."
Such postwar economic retrenchment as has occurred has disproportionally hit the minority groups. A United States Census Bureau survey, bearing out the adage that minority workers are "the last hired, first fired," discloses that from July, 1945, to April, 1946, unemployment among whites increased about one and one-half times while unemployment among nonwhites more than tripled. The situation has of course been aggravated by the accelerated migration of Negroes from the South to northern industrial areas during the war.
Efforts to improve the situation. -- Reference has already been made to the Fair Employment Practice Committee. This Committee was established by President Roosevelt in an Executive Order dated June 25, 1941. Its mandate was to eliminate discriminatory employment practices within the federal government and in companies and unions which had contracts with the government or which were engaged in the production of materials necessary to the war effort. The FEPC, as a practical matter, served as a clearing house for complaints alleging various types of employment discrimination. It had no enforcement powers of its own; and no recourse to the courts.
The effectiveness of the FEPC was due almost entirely to its success as a mediation body in persuading a union or employer to revise the particular policy or practice complained of. During its most active two years, FEPC closed an average of 250 cases a month, about 100 of which were satisfactorily adjusted. The Committee's work ended in June, 1946, when Congress failed to appropriate funds for the ensuing fiscal year. In a letter of June 28,1946, to the Committee accepting the resignation of its members, President Truman said:
The degree of effectiveness which the Fair Employment Practice Committee was able to attain has shown once and for all that it is possible to equalize job opportunity by governmental action, and thus eventually to eliminate the influence of prejudice in the field of employment.
There are six states which have laws directed against discrimination in private employment. The New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut statutes have strong enforcement provisions. In general, the statutes in these four states make it unlawful for employers to discriminate in hiring, firing, or conditions of employment, or for labor unions to exclude, expel, or discriminate, because of race,
color, creed, or national origin. They also prohibit the use of discriminatory help wanted ads and job applications by employers and employment agencies. State commissions are empowered to investigate complaints, to hold hearings, to attempt to conciliate, to issue cease-and-desist orders, and finally, to seek court enforcement of these orders. Indiana and Wisconsin have antidiscrimination statutes without enforcement provisions. The commissions in these two states serve therefore as educational and advisory agencies.
The progress that has been made in New York State under its fair employment practice act is suggested by the first annual report (for the year 1946) of the State Commission Against Discrimination. In its introduction the Report states: "The operation of the law has definitely resulted in progress in the elimination of illegal discriminatory practices. The testimony of people actually engaged in job placement activities reveals that fields of opportunity previously closed to certain groups are now open to all, regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin. Resistance to the law has lessened as demonstrated by the fact that employees of all groups are being hired and upgraded into new occupational categories. Pre-employment discriminatory inquiries are now the rarity, rather than the rule."
A few scattered cities, among them Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, and Cincinnati, have enacted ordinances designed to prevent discrimination in employment practices. These vary greatly in scope. Some are directed solely at municipal employment; others apply to private employers having contracts with the city; and at least one covers labor unions in addition to public and private employers. Some carry fines and imprisonment for violators, while others, with no sanctions or enforcement provisions, are little more than policy statements.
THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION
The United States has made remarkable progress toward the goal of universal education for its people. The number and variety of its schools and colleges are greater than ever before. Student bodies have become increasingly representative of all the different peoples who make up our population. Yet we have not finally eliminated prejudice and discrimination from the operation of either our public
or our private schools and colleges. Two inadequacies are extremely serious. We have failed to provide Negroes and, to a lesser extent, other minority group members with equality of educational opportunities in our public institutions, particularly at the elementary and secondary school levels. We have allowed discrimination in the operation of many of our private institutions of higher education, particularly in the North with respect to Jewish students.
Discrimination in public schools: -- The failure to give Negroes equal educational opportunities is naturally most acute in the South, where approximately 10 million Negroes live. The South is one of the poorer sections of the country and has at best only limited funds to spend on its schools. With 34.5 percent of the country's population, 17 southern states and the District of Columbia have 39.4 percent of our school children. Yet the South has only one-fifth of the taxpaying wealth of the nation. Actually, on a percentage basis, the South spends a greater share of its income on education than do the wealthier states in other parts of the country. For example, Mississippi, which has the lowest expenditure per school child of any state, is ninth in percentage of income devoted to education. A recent study showed Mississippi spending 3.41 percent of its income for education as against New York's figure of only 2.61 percent. But this meant $400 per classroom unit in Mississippi, and $4,100 in New York. Negro and white school children both suffer because of the South's basic inability to match the level of educational opportunity provided in other sections of the nation.
But it is the South's segregated school system which most directly discriminates against the Negro. This segregation is found today in 17 southern states and the District of Columbia. Poverty-stricken though it was after the close of the Civil War, the South chose to maintain two sets of public schools, one for whites and one for Negroes. With respect to education, as well as to other public services, the Committee believes that the "separate but equal" rule has not been obeyed in practice. There is a marked difference in quality between the educational opportunities offered white children and Negro children in the separate schools. Whatever test is used -- expenditure per pupil, teachers' salaries, the number of pupils per teacher, transportation of students, adequacy of school buildings and educational equipment, length of
school term, extent of curriculum -- Negro students are invariably at a disadvantage. Opportunities for Negroes in public institutions of higher education in the South -- particularly at the professional graduate school level -- are severely limited.
Statistics in support of these conclusions are available. Figures provided by the United States Office of Education for the school year, 1943-44, show that the average length of the school term in the areas having separate schools was 173.5 days for whites, and 164 for Negroes; the number of pupils per teacher was 28 for white and 34 for Negroes; and the average annual salary for Negro teachers was lower than that for white teachers in all but three of the 18 areas. Salary figures are as follows:
The South has made considerable progress in the last decade in narrowing the gap between educational opportunities afforded the
white children and that afforded Negro children. For example, the gap between the length of the school year for whites and the shorter one for Negroes has been narrowed from 14.8 days in 1939-40 to 9.5 days in 1943-44. Similarly, the gap in student load per teacher in white and Negro schools has dropped from 8.5 students in 1939-40 to six students in 1943-44.
In spite of the improvement which is undoubtedly taking place, the Committee is convinced that the gap between white and Negro schools can never be completely eliminated by means of state funds alone. The cost of maintaining separate, but truly equal, school systems would seem to be utterly prohibitive in many of the southern states. It seems probable that the only means by which such a goal can finally be won will be through federal financial assistance. The extension of the federal grant-in-aid for educational purposes, already available to the land-grant colleges and, for vocational education, to the secondary school field, seems both imminent and desirable.
Whether the federal grant-in-aid should be used to support the maintenance of separate schools is an issue that the country must soon face.
In the North, segregation in education is not formal, and in some states is prohibited. Nevertheless, the existence of residential restrictions in many northern cities has had discriminatory effects on Negro education. In Chicago, for example, the schools which are most crowded and employ double shift schedules are practically all in Negro neighborhoods.
Other minorities encounter discrimination. Occasionally Indian children attending public schools in the western states are assigned to separate classrooms. Many Texas schools segregate Mexican American children in separate schools. In California segregation of Mexican American children was also practiced until recently. The combined effect of a federal court ruling, and legislative action repealing the statute under which school boards claimed authority to segregate, seems to have ended this pattern of discrimination in California schools.
Discrimination in private schools. -- The second inadequacy in our present educational practices in America is the religious and racial
discrimination that exists in the operation of some private educational institutions, both with respect to the admission of students and the treatment of them after admission.
The Committee is absolutely convinced of the importance of the private educational institution to a free society. It does not question the right of groups of private citizens to establish such institutions, determine their character and policies, and operate them. But it does believe that such schools immediately acquire a public character and importance. Invariably they enjoy government support, if only in the form of exemption from taxation and in the privilege of income tax deduction extended to their benefactors. Inevitably, they render public service by training our young people for life in a democratic society. Consequently, they are possessed of a public responsibility from which there is no escape.
Leading educators assert that a careful selection in admissions practices may be necessary to insure a representative and diversified student body. Liberal arts colleges, in particular, have used this reasoning to limit the number of students enrolled from any one race or religion, as well as from any geographical section, preparatory school, or socio-economic background.
Nevertheless it is clear that there is much discrimination, based on prejudice, in admission of students to private colleges, vocational schools, and graduate schools. Since accurate statistical data is almost impossible to obtain this is difficult to prove. But competent observers are agreed that existence of this condition is widespread. Application blanks of many American colleges and universities include questions pertaining to the candidate's racial origin, religious preference, parents' birthplace, etc. In many of our northern educational institutions enrollment of Jewish students seems never to exceed certain fixed points and there is never more than a token enrollment of Negroes.
The impact of discriminatory practices in private education is illustrated by the situation in New York City. The students of the city colleges of New York are predominantly Jewish, resulting in part from the discrimination practiced by some local private institutions. These colleges have high academic standards, but graduates from them with
excellent records have been repeatedly denied admission to private and nonsectarian professional schools. A Special Investigating Committee of the Council of the City of New York, recently established to examine this situation, found convincing evidence of discrimination against graduates of the city colleges by the medical schools in the city in violation of the Civil Rights Act of New York. The Investigating Committee, after questioning witnesses and examining application blanks, concluded that various professional schools tried to get information about applicants which would indicate their race, religion, or national origin for "a purpose other than judging their qualifications for admission." Jews are not alone in being affected by these practices. One witness, a member of a medical school's admission committee, admitted to a prejudice against Irish Catholics which affected his judgment. The number of Negroes attending these medical schools has been extremely low; less than 50 have been graduated from them in 25 years.
Certainly the public cannot long tolerate practices by private educational institutions which are in serious conflict with patterns of democratic life, sanctioned by the overwhelming majority of our people. By the closing of the door through bigotry and prejudice to equality of educational opportunity, the public is denied the manifold social and economic benefits that the talented individual might otherwise contribute to our society.
THE RIGHT TO HOUSING
Equality of opportunity to rent or buy a home should exist for every American. Today, many of our citizens face a double barrier when they try to satisfy their housing needs. They first encounter a general housing shortage which makes it difficult for any family without a home to find one. They then encounter prejudice and discrimination based upon race, color, religion or national origin, which places them at a disadvantage in competing for the limited housing that is available. The fact that many of those who face this double barrier are war veterans only underlines the inadequacy of our housing record.
Discrimination in housing results primarily from business practices. These practices may arise from special interests of business groups, such
as the profits to be derived from confining minorities to slum areas, or they may reflect community prejudice. One of the most common practices is the policy of landlords and real estate agents to prevent Negroes from renting outside of designated areas. Again, it is "good business" to develop exclusive "restricted" suburban developments which are barred to all but white gentiles. When Negro veterans seek "GI" loans in order to build homes, they are likely to find that credit from private banks, without whose services there is no possibility of taking advantage of the GI Bill of Rights, is less freely available to members of their race. Private builders show a tendency not to construct new homes except for white occupancy. These interlocking business customs and devices form the core of our discriminatory policy. But community prejudice also finds expression in open public agitation against construction of public housing projects for Negroes, and by violence against Negroes who seek to occupy public housing projects or to build in "white" sections.
The restrictive covenant. -- Under rulings of the Supreme Court, it is legally impossible to segregate housing on a racial or religious basis by zoning ordinance. Accordingly, the restrictive covenant has become the most effective modern method of accomplishing such segregation. Restrictive covenants generally take the form of agreements written into deeds of sale by which property owners mutually bind themselves not to sell or lease to an "undesirable." These agreements have thus far been enforceable by court action. Through these covenants large areas of land are barred against use by various classes of American citizens. Some are directed against only one minority group, others against a list of minorities. These have included Armenians, Jews, Negroes, Mexicans, Syrians, Japanese, Chinese and Indians.
While we do not know how much land in the country is subject to such restrictions, we do know that many areas, particularly large cities in the North and West, such as Chicago, Cleveland, Washington, D. C., and Los Angeles, are widely affected. The amount of land covered by racial restrictions in Chicago has been estimated at 8o percent. Students of the subject state that virtually all new subdivisions are blanketed by these covenants. Land immediately surrounding ghetto areas is frequently restricted in order to prevent any expansion in the ghetto.
Thus, where old ghettos are surrounded by restrictions, and new subdivisions are also encumbered by them, there is practically no place for the people against whom the restrictions are directed to go. Since minorities have been forced into crowded slum areas, and must ultimately have access to larger living areas, the restrictive covenant is providing our democratic society with one of its most challenging problems.
The constitutional and legal validity of this device has been tested in few states. Where there has been litigation, the appellate courts have up to this time uniformly upheld restrictions against use by barred groups and in most instances have also upheld restriction against ownership. While a case in the United States Supreme Court in 1926 was long believed to uphold the constitutional validity of restrictive covenants under the federal Constitution, this case has recently been challenged as a binding authority. Litigation is now pending testing the validity of restrictive covenants directed against Jews, American Indians and Negroes. The Supreme Court, apparently willing to reexamine the issue, has currently accepted two restrictive covenant cases for review and a more definite ruling may be expected shortly.
The purpose of the restrictive covenant can only effectively be achieved in the final analysis by obtaining court orders putting the power of the state behind the enforcement of the private agreement. While our American courts thus far have permitted judicial power to be utilized for these ends, the Supreme Court of Ontario has recently refused to follow this course. The Ontario judge, calling attention to the policy of the United Nations against racial or religious discrimination, said
In my opinion, nothing could be more calculated to create or deepen divisions between existing religious and ethnic groups in this province * * * than the sanction of a method of land transfer which would permit the segregation and confinement of particular groups to particular business or residential areas, or conversely, would exclude particular groups from particular business or residential areas.
There is eminent judicial and professional opinion in this country that our courts cannot constitutionally enforce racial restrictive covenants. In a recent California case a lower court judge held that the
courts could not enforce such an agreement. And in a strong dissenting opinion in a recent covenant case Justice Edgerton, of the United. States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, said:
Suits like these, and the ghetto system they enforce are among our conspicuous failures to live together in peace. * * * The question in these cases is not whether law should punish racial discrimination, or even whether law should try to prevent racial discrimination, or even whether law should interfere with it in any way. The question is whether law should affirmatively support and enforce racial discrimination.
Public housing. -- The federal government has been closely concerned with minority housing problems in recent years through its aid to local public housing authorities, through its insurance of loans to private builders and through its war and veterans' programs. Much of the improvement in the housing conditions of minorities in recent years has resulted from public building. The Federal Public Housing Authority has tried to allocate public housing fairly, and to make certain that equal standards are maintained. Many housing projects with mixed racial occupancy have been operated with great success.
The Committee is glad to note that the Federal Housing Agency, which guarantees loans for certain types of private building, has recently abandoned the policy by which it encouraged the placing of racial restrictive covenants on projects supported by government guarantees.
It must be noted, however, that even if government, local or federal, does not encourage racial restrictions, private interests may put discriminatory practices into effect if proper safeguards are not devised. The experience of Stuyvesant Town in New York City is a case in point. There the city made great financial concessions to a private corporation, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, to induce construction of a large housing project, which was to be subject to a variety of restrictions designed to make it serve community housing needs. But, in the absence of any direct requirement of equitable distribution of the benefits of the project the Company barred Negroes from occupancy in Stuyvesant Town. Yet New York is a city in which mixed public housing projects have been maintained for many years.
THE RIGHT TO HEALTH SERVICE
Increased attention is being given throughout the United States to the health needs of our people. Minority groups are sharing in the improvements which are taking place. But there is serious discrimination in the availability of medical care, and many segments of our population do not measure up to the standards of health which have been attained by our people as a whole.
For example, the death rate from all causes for the entire country in 1945 was 10.5 per thousand of estimated population. The Chinese, however, had a rate of 12.8; the Negroes, 12.0; the Indians, 12.0; and the Japanese, 11.5. Similarly, many diseases strike minorities much harder than the majority groups. Tuberculosis accounts for the death of more than twice as many Negroes as whites. Among Indians in rural United States, the death rate from tuberculosis is more than 10 times as high as that for whites; in Alaska, the native deaths from this cause are over 30 times greater. In Texas, seven Latin Americans died of tuberculosis for every Anglo American. Infant deaths furnish another example of this pattern. On a nation-wide basis, the infant mortality rate was more than half again as high for Negroes as for whites. In Texas, it was almost three times as high for Latin as for Anglo infants. Maternal deaths show like disproportions. In New York City, where the vast majority of the Puerto Ricans in this country are located, reports from social workers and city health authorities indicate that the frequency of illness among the Puerto Ricans is much higher than among other groups.
There are many factors which contribute to the discrepancies between the health of the majority and the minorities. As has already been noted, our minorities are seriously handicapped by their economic status. Frequently, because of poverty, they re unable to afford even the minimum of medical care or a diet adequate to build up resistance to disease. The depressed economic status of many of our minorities combined with restrictive covenants in housing prevents them from living in a sanitary, health-giving environment. Children who are not admitted to clean, healthful playgrounds must find their fun in the crowded, dirty areas in which they are allowed. Discrimination
in education withholds from many people the basic information and knowledge so essential to good health.
A more direct cause of unequal opportunity in the field of health is the discriminatory pattern that prevails with respect to medical facilities and personnel. Many hospitals will not admit Negro patients. The United States Public Health Service estimates on the basis of a preliminary survey that only approximately 15,000 hospital beds out of a total of one and one-half million beds are presently available to Negroes. Thus, though Negroes constitute about ten percent of the population, only one percent of the hospital beds are open to them. In Chicago, a study by the Mayor's Commission on Human Relations in 1946 disclosed that "although most hospital officials denied the existence of a discriminatory admission policy, Negroes represented a negligible percentage of patients admitted."
The situation is further complicated by the shortage of medical personnel available for the treatment of patients from minority groups. This is particularly evident among the Negroes; in 1937, only 35 percent of southern Negro babies were delivered by doctors, as compared to 90 percent of northern babies of both races. There were in 1940 only 3,530 Negro physicians and surgeons; 7,192 trained and student Negro nurses; and 1,471 Negro dentists in a total Negro population of 13,000,000. The ratio of Negro physicians to the total Negro population was about one to 3,377, while that of the total number of physicians to the general population of the country was one to 750. Moreover, a high proportion of these were employed in the North. In the South, with a Negro population of almost 10,000,000, there were in 1940 about 2,000 Negro doctors, or only one to every 4,900 colored persons.
One important reason for this acute shortage of skilled medical men is the discriminatory policy of our medical schools in admitting minority students. Medical schools graduate approximately 5,000 students a year, but only about 145 of these are Negro. And of these 145, 130 are from two Negro schools; thus, only about fifteen Negroes are graduated from all the other medical schools of the country each year.
To these handicaps must be added the refusal of some medical societies and many hospitals to admit Negro physicians and interns for practice. Denied the facilities and training which are available to
other doctors, Negro members of the profession are often unable to keep abreast of developments in medicine and to qualify as specialists. This discrimination contributes to the state of Negro health.
Though the expectation of life at birth is still lower for nonwhites than whites, the relative increase in life expectancy between 1930 and 1940 was nearly twice as great for nonwhites as whites. The life expectancy of Negro males in this period increased 9.9 percent; of Negro females, 11.5 per cent; of white males and females, 6.0 per cent and 7.0 percent respectively. However, the figure for white persons is still appreciably higher than for nonwhite persons; white males can expect to live sixty-three years as compared with fifty-two for Negro males, and white females sixty-seven years compared with fifty-five years for Negro females.
Progress has been made in reducing Negro deaths due to tuberculosis, diphtheria, whooping cough, diarrhea, enteritis, and syphilis. Among the Mexicans in Texas, vigorous programs have been undertaken by federal and local officials. Baby clinics, home nursing classes, family life courses, maternity clinics and other measures have been established. The Indian Service now operates 69 hospitals and sanatoria in the United States, 7 in Alaska; 14 school health centers; and 100 field dispensaries. Special efforts are being made to combat tuberculosis, a leading cause of illness and death among Indians. Another sign of progress is the decision of the American Nurses Association, in 1946, to accept all qualified applicants as members of the national organization, even when they cannot, for local reasons, enter county societies.
THE RIGHT TO PUBLIC SERVICES AND ACCOMMODATIONS
Services supplied by the government should be distributed in a nondiscriminatory way. Activities financed by the public treasury should serve the whole people; they cannot, in consonance with the democratic principle, be used to advance the welfare of a portion of the population only. Moreover, many privately-owned and operated enterprises should recognize a responsibility to sell to all who wish to buy their services. They cannot be permitted to confine their benefits to a selected clientele. This is particularly true of those private businesses
which hold franchises from the state or enjoy a monopoly status. Even when no franchise has been granted, and competition exists, certain private businesses because of the essential character of the services they render should serve all comers. It has been made clear to the Committee that unfortunately, many public services, supplied by both government and private business, do not reach all persons on an equality of access basis.
Discrimination in federal services. -- Discrimination in public services supplied by the federal government is never directly authorized by legislation. It sometimes results inadvertently from the limited coverage of social service legislation. Thus, the old age and survivors' insurance and unemployment compensation systems do not cover agriculture, domestic service, and self-employed persons. Sixty-five percent of all Negro workers fall into these categories compared with 40 percent of all white workers. Large numbers of Mexican American, Hispano, and Japanese American workers also fail to benefit by this legislation because of their concentration in farm work.
Discrimination is sometimes evident in the admission of individuals to the benefits of the program by local administrators. The aims of some of our broadest social legislation are negated to the extent that this discrimination occurs. Evidence indicating the existence of such discrimination against Indians in certain localities has been brought to the attention of the Committee. It would appear that much of this discrimination is based on the mistaken belief that the Office of Indian Affairs provides the Indians with all needed public services. Actually, the Office furnishes very limited services which by no means replace those supplied the general public by government agencies. The Committee believes the extent of this misunderstanding and of resulting inequalities in services rendered Indians should be promptly ascertained by appropriate agencies, and steps taken to bring an end to those which are found to exist.
Negroes are sometimes not admitted locally to the benefits of certain services, or are given unequal service. This is shown by a study of public assistance made by Dr. Richard Sterner in 1942 in the investigation of the American Negro, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation. Because of a higher proportion of dependency, Negroes have a greater
need for old age assistance than whites, but average grants in the old age assistance program were found to be lower for Negroes than for whites. Sterner also found that certain Farm Security benefits were less for Negroes than for whites. More recently, the Farmers Home Administration has been making valiant efforts toward assuring that Negro farmers receive their share. Discrepancies of coverage and benefits can be cited also for the care of delinquent, destitute, and handicapped children and aid to the blind.
Discrimination in state and local services. -- Where state or local facilities are allocated to Negroes, either because of segregation or as a result of geographical concentration of the colored population, the services are almost always inferior to those provided whites. For example, in 1940, in thirteen southern states providing 774 public libraries, ninety-nine, or less than one seventh, served Negroes. The streets in Negro districts in the North as well as in the South are often not kept up to the standards maintained in white areas. Public parks, beaches and playgrounds are generally closed to Negroes in the South, and on the rare occasion when substitutes are offered they are inferior. Furthermore, since the Negro schools are usually unsatisfactory, they are not suitable for community centers; thus, in 1937, about half of all the cities having Negro community centers were located in the North and West, despite the heavy concentration of Negro population in the South.
Discrimination in places of public accommodation. -- When we turn from public services supplied by government to those supplied by private enterprise, discrimination against minorities becomes more pronounced. Our social conscience has brought about an elimination of some of the most flagrant inequalities in the distribution of government services. But it is often blind to the serious effect upon the individual which results from the discriminatory rendering of service by private agencies.
Most Americans patronize restaurants, theaters, shops, and other places offering service to the public according to their individual preferences and their ability to pay. They take their right to enter such places and to be served for granted. This is not the case with other Americans. Because of their race or their color or their creed, they are barred from access to some places and given unequal service in others.
In many sections of this country, some people must pause and give thought before they enter places serving the public if they wish to avoid embarrassment, arrest, or even possible violence.
As interpreted by the Supreme Court the Constitution does not guarantee equal access to places of public accommodation and amusement. A Civil Rights Act was passed by Congress in 1875 which declared that no distinction should be made because of race or color in the accommodations offered by inns, public conveyances, theaters, and similar places. This act was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1883, in the Civil Rights Cases. Thereafter legislation on the matter was left entirely to the states. They may, and do, either compel segregation, or outlaw it, or they may leave it to the managers of private establishments to make whatever distinction they wish in selecting their patrons.
Eighteen states have statutes prohibiting discrimination in places of public accommodation. These states prohibit discrimination in restaurants, and usually in other eating places. Most of them prohibit discrimination in public conveyances of all types, and over half of them, in theaters and barber shops. All include some general phrase, such as "and all other places of public accommodation." The courts, however, have tended to limit this general phrasing by the list of specific places. The statutes can be enforced by criminal action or by a civil suit for damages.
At the other extreme, 20 states by law compel segregation in one way or another. The remaining 10 states have no laws on the subject. In the states with compulsory segregation laws Negroes are usually separated from whites in all forms of public transportation, and in hotels, restaurants, and places of amusement. Fourteen states require railroads to separate the races, and two authorize railroads to provide such separation. Train conductors are given power to enforce these laws. Under the Supreme Court decision in Morgan v. Virginia, such laws do not apply to passengers in interstate transportation. However, this decision does not prevent carriers from voluntarily enforcing segregation. Eight states require separate waiting rooms, 11 require separation in buses, 10 in street cars and three in steamships and ferries. In instances where completely separate facilities are provided, as in railroad
coaches and waiting rooms, those set aside for the Negro are usually inferior in quality.
In the states which do legally secure the right of access, practice does not necessarily conform to the law. One prominent Negro has stated that it is difficult to find a meal or a hotel room in the downtown areas of most northern cities. The display of "whites only" signs may sometimes go unchallenged. When laws guaranteeing equal access to places of public accommodation are enforced, the penalty is usually small and the chance of being prosecuted or sued a second time is slight.
Devices to get around the law are more common than direct violation of the law. Unwanted customers are discouraged from patronizing places by letting them wait indefinitely for service, charging higher prices, giving poor service, and publicly embarrassing them in various ways. In a recent campaign to compel enforcement of a civil rights statute in Cincinnati, many restaurants closed their doors to make repairs. Nevertheless, these campaigns are often successful, and without the statutes would be impossible. In Chicago in 1946, the Mayor's Commission on Human Relations invoked the State Civil Rights Statute to break down the bars against Negroes in the roller-skating rinks of the city.
Sometimes the pattern of segregation in public service facilities spreads from the states having compulsory separation of the races to states which are free from such laws. For example, the Pennsylvania Railroad in its terminal in New York City segregates Negroes in coaches on through trains bound for the South, even though it does not do so on its own trains operating as far as Washington.
In the Southwest, Mexicans are barred from certain places of recreation. In some rural and semi-rural communities, operators of cafes, beer parlors, barber shops, and theaters are adamant in refusing service to all Latin Americans. Jews are discriminated against principally in recreational and resort areas in the North where beaches, hotels, and similar facilities are closed to them. Often this is indicated by "Gentiles only" or "restricted" labels. Japanese Americans have also frequently faced "No Japs Wanted" signs in store windows, and poor service in other places. Indians sometimes have difficulty getting service and hotel accommodations in different parts of the country. They meet
a more serious problem, however, in areas surrounding reservations. The Assistant Commissioner of Indian Affairs described the scene in one town
I have recently been in a community in New Mexico, more than half of whose non-Indian citizens survive only because of the trade and business which the town's proximity to the reservation affords them, and yet the hundreds of Indians who frequent the town for marketing and other purposes are denied access to all but the most unsanitary and undesirable eating, lodging, and restroom facilities.
The "Separate But Equal" Failure
Mention has already been made of the "separate but equal" policy of the southern states by which Negroes are said to be entitled to the same public service as whites but on a strictly segregated basis. The theory behind this policy is complex. On one hand, it recognizes Negroes as citizens and as intelligent human beings entitled to enjoy the status accorded the individual in our American heritage of freedom. It theoretically gives them access to all the rights, privileges, and services of a civilized, democratic society. On the other hand, it brands the Negro with the mark of inferiority and asserts that he is not fit to associate with white people.
Legally enforced segregation has been followed throughout the South since the close of the Reconstruction era. In these states it is generally illegal for Negroes to attend the same schools as whites; attend theaters patronized by whites; visit parks where whites relax; eat, sleep or meet in hotels, restaurants, or public halls frequented by whites. This is only a partial enumeration-legally imposed separation of races has become highly refined. In the eyes of the law, it is also an offense for whites to attend "Negro" schools, theaters and similar places. The result has been the familiar system of racial segregation in both public and private institutions which cuts across the daily lives of southern citizens from the cradle to the grave.
Legally-enforced segregation has been largely limited to the South. But segregation is also widely prevalent in the North, particularly in housing, and in hotel and restaurant accommodations. Segregation has
not been enforced by states alone. The federal government has tolerated it even where it has full authority to eliminate it. We have already examined the situation in the armed forces. Another prominent example is the record in the Panama Canal Zone.
Although the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over the Panama Canal Zone, a segregated way of life for Negroes and for whites exists. The latter are United States citizens who are employed in the Zone. Must of the Negroes are from Caribbean countries, and are British subjects. Although some of them have lived in the Zone for many years, and their children know no other country, they cannot become citizens because United States naturalization laws do not apply. Professional, skilled, and supervisory workers (gold) are supposed to be segregated from unskilled labor (silver). In a recent report, the Governor of the Zone described. the situation:
The force employed by the Panama Canal and the Panama Railroad Company is composed of two classes which for local convenience have been designated "gold" and "silver" employees. The terms * * * originated during the construction period of the Canal from the practice of paying in silver coin common laborers and other unskilled or semi-skilled workers employed in the Tropic while skilled craftsmen and those occupying executive, professional, and similar positions were paid in gold coin, the latter group being recruited largely from the United States. Although all employees are now paid in United States currency, the original terms used to designate the two classes of employees have been retained for convenience. The terms "gold" and "silver" are applied also to quarters, commissaries, clubhouses, and other public facilities. [Italics ours.]
This system of "convenience" has operated to the serious detriment of the Negro workers. There are separate and lower standards for them in occupation and wages, education, housing, and recreation. The Zone government is at present engaged in a concerted effort to improve facilities and services for the Negro workers. The "gold" and "silver" signs labeling separate drinking fountain and rest-room facilities have recently been taken down. Nevertheless, Zone public institutions, all under government control, still segregate the gold and silver workers. This includes housing, government commissaries, and recreational establishments.
The Supreme Court and Segregation
The Fourteenth Amendment forbids a state to deny "to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Moreover, the general spirit of the three Civil War Amendments seems to guarantee to all persons a full and equal status in American society.
Yet the Supreme Court, beginning with its decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, in 1896, has approved state legislation requiring segregation between Negroes and whites on the theory that segregation, as such, is not discriminatory. The Court dismissed the contention that "the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority," and observed, "if this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it." So long as laws requiring segregation do not establish unequal facilities, the legal doctrine holds, there is no unreasonable discrimination and therefore no denial of equal protection under the law.
This judicial legalization of segregation was not accomplished without protest. Justice Harlan, a Kentuckian, in one of the most vigorous and forthright dissenting opinions in Supreme Court history, denounced his colleagues for the manner in which they interpreted away the substance of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments. In his dissent in the Plessy case, he said:
Our Constitution is color blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. * * *
We boast of the freedom enjoyed by our people above all other peoples. But it is difficult to reconcile that boast with a state of the law which, practically, puts the brand of servitude and degradation upon a large class of our fellow citizens, our equals before the law. The thin disguise of "equal" accommodations * * * will not mislead anyone, or atone for the wrong this day done.
If evidence beyond that of dispassionate reason was needed to justify Justice Harlan's statement, history has provided it. Segregation has become the cornerstone of the elaborate structure of discrimination against some American citizens. Theoretically this system simply duplicates educational, recreational and other public services, according facilities to the two races which are "separate but equal." In the Committee's opinion this is one of the outstanding myths of
American history for it is almost always true that while indeed separate, these facilities are far from equal. Throughout the segregated public institutions, Negroes have been denied an equal share of tax-supported services and facilities. So far as private institutions are concerned, there is no specific legal disability on the right of Negroes to develop equal institutions of their own. However, the economic, social, and indirect legal obstacles to this course are staggering.
Following the Plessy decision, the Supreme Court for many years enforced with a degree of leniency the rule that segregated facilities must be equal. Gradually, however, the Court became stricter about requiring a showing of equality. During the last decade, in line with its vigorous defense of civil rights generally, the Court has been particularly insistent upon adherence to the "equal" part of the separate but equal rule. In 1938, in Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, it held that Missouri might not fulfill its obligation under the rule by offering to pay the tuition of a Negro resident of Missouri at an out-of-state law school in lieu of permitting him to attend the law school at the University of Missouri. The Court laid down the plain rule that if a state chooses to provide within its borders specialized educational facilities for citizens of one race, it must make similar provision, also within its borders, for citizens of other races.
This insistence upon equal facilities is encouraging. Experience requires the prediction, however, that the degree of equality will never be complete, and never certain. In any event we believe that not even the most mathematically precise equality of segregated institutions can properly be considered equality under the law. No argument or rationalization can alter this basic fact: a law which forbids a group of American citizens to associate with other citizens in the ordinary course of daily living creates inequality by imposing a caste status on the minority group.
Experience Versus Segregation
If reason and history were not enough to substantiate the argument against segregation, recent experiences further strengthen it. For these experiences demonstrate that segregation is an obstacle to establishing
harmonious relationships among groups. They prove that where the artificial barriers which divide people and groups from one another are broken, tension and conflict begin to be replaced by cooperative effort and an environment in which civil rights can thrive.
One of these experiences is recorded in Report No. ETO-82 of the Research Branch, Information and Education Division, in the European Theater of Operations of the Army. In 1945, during the fighting in France, the Army was faced with a shortage of combat ground troops. The Theater Command decided to make use of Negro service troops in the area. A substantial number of Negro enlisted men accepted the invitation to volunteer for combat training and service. Many of these volunteers gave up their rank as noncommissioned officers for what they considered to be the privilege of combat. They were not very different from the run of Negro troops in the Army.
The Negro soldiers were trained and organized into platoons, which were placed in regiments in eleven white combat divisions. For months the Negro and white men in these divisions worked and fought side by side. Then, white officers, noncommissioned officers, and enlisted men in seven of the eleven divisions were interviewed. At least two of these divisions were composed of men who were predominantly southern in background. It is surprising how little the response of these southern men varied from that of men from other parts of the country.
Two out of every three white men admitted that at first they had been unfavorable to the idea of serving alongside colored platoons. Three out of every four said that their feelings toward the Negro soldiers had changed after serving with them in combat. These are some representative comments:
A platoon sergeant from South Carolina:
When I heard about it I said I'd be damned if I'd wear the same shoulder patch they did. After that first day when we saw how they fought I changed my mind. They're just like any of the other boys to us.
A platoon sergeant from New Jersey:
Didn't mind it myself. I'll tell you though, I came to think a lot more of them since.
A platoon leader from Texas:
We all expected trouble. Haven't had any. One reason may be that we briefed the white boys in advance -- told them these men were volunteers coming up here to fight and that we wouldn't stand for any foolishness.
A regimental commander:
I'm from the South -- most of us here are -- and I was pretty dubious as to how it would work out. But I'll have to admit we haven't had a bit of trouble. I selected the best company commander I had to put over them.
A first sergeant from Alabama:
I didn't want them myself at first: Now I have more trust in them. I used to think they would be yellow in combat, but I have seen them work.
The great majority of white officers and enlisted men agreed that the Negro soldiers who had fought alongside them had performed excellently in combat. Eight out of ten white men said they had done very well and almost all of the rest that they had done fairly well. Only two percent of the enlisted men and none of the officers felt that they had done "not so well" or were "undecided." No white officer or enlisted man said that they had done "not very well."
But the findings which have the greatest significance for the elimination of prejudices are in the answers to this question:
Some Army divisions have companies which include Negro platoons and white platoons. How would you feel about it if your outfit was set up something like this?
The question was asked of four sample groups of white servicemen. The first had had direct, immediate and personal contact with Negroes as fellow soldiers; the second had been close to the situation and had had an opportunity to see how it worked; the third had been further away and the fourth had had no experience whatsoever.
The conclusion can be stated simply: the closer white infantrymen had been to the actual experience of working with Negroes in combat units the more willing they were to accept integrated Negro platoons in white companies as a good idea for the future. Moreover, the sharpest break was between groups which had even the slightest contact with the experience of integration, and those which had none at all.
The Merchant Marine presents a very different situation with respect
to the relations between Negroes and whites than the Armed Forces. Negroes have served aboard ship for many years. There have been constant campaigns on the part of some of the seamen's unions to gain equality for them, as well as efforts to overcome prejudice among the white members. More than 400 merchant seamen were asked a series of indirect questions which were then built into an "Index of Prejudice Against Negroes." The results reported by Ira N. Brophy in the Public Opinion Quarterly, Winter, 1945-46, were surprising. They demonstrated that whether a man had been born in the North or the South was not important in determining whether he was prejudiced against Negroes. The extent of his education and the jobs he had held before he went to sea were not important. What was important was whether the men were members of unions with tolerant policies toward Negroes; how many trips to sea a man had made; how many times he had been under enemy fire; and how many times he had been to sea with Negroes. Here again what determined whether a white man was prejudiced against Negroes was the kind and amount of experience he had had with them. Where there was contact with Negroes on an equal footing in a situation of mutual dependence and common effort prejudice declined.
A study of two housing communities reinforces still further the pattern revealed in the Army and the Merchant Marine instances. The study was done under the direction of Professor Robert K. Merton of Columbia University for the Lavanburg Foundation and reported to this Committee by Professor Paul F. Lazarsfeld. An interracial housing community was set up in a northern city. Before they moved into the project only one out of every 25 whites thought that race relations would turn out well, while five times as many felt that there would be nothing but conflict between the people of the two races. After a few years, one out of every five whites said that race relations were better than they had thought they would be, while only about one-fourth as many thought that they were worse than they had expected. But of the people who had anticipated really serious race conflicts, three out of every four were willing to say that their fears had been proved groundless. Moreover, people who had worked with Negroes were considerably more willing to live in the same community with them.
While 40 percent of them expressed such willingness, only 28 percent of the whites who had never worked with Negroes did. Other data collected in these studies of inter-group relations in housing communities indicate that the more institutions there are in any community in which Negroes and whites may meet together normally, the less prejudice will be found. Roughly the same patterns seem to be true of religious groups.
These three studies were done under widely varying circumstances by different scientists, with different people as subjects. The results add up to an indictment of segregation.
The separate but equal doctrine stands convicted on three grounds. It contravenes the equalitarian spirit of the American heritage. It has failed to operate, for history shows that inequality of service has been the omnipresent consequence of separation. It has institutionalized segregation and kept groups apart despite indisputable evidence that normal contacts among these groups tend to promote social harmony.
The Committee is not convinced that an end to segregation in education or in the enjoyment of public services essential to people in a modern society would mean an intrusion upon the private life of the individual. In a democracy, each individual must have freedom to choose his friends and to control the pattern of his personal and family life. But we see nothing inconsistent between this freedom and a recognition of the truth that democracy also means that in going to school, working, participating in the political process, serving in the armed forces, enjoying government services in such fields as health and recreation, making use of transportation and other public accommodation facilities, and living in specific communities and neighborhoods, distinctions of race, color, and creed have no place.
CIVIL RIGHTS IN THE NATION'S CAPITAL
We have seen how, throughout the country, our practice lags behind the American tradition of freedom and equality. A single community -- the nation's capital -- illustrates dramatically the shortcomings in our record and the need for change. The District of Columbia should symbolize to our own citizens and to the people of all countries
our great tradition of civil liberty. Instead, it is a graphic illustration of a failure of democracy. As the seat of our federal government under the authority of Congress, the failure of the District is a failure of all of the people.
For Negro Americans, Washington is not just the nation's capital. It is the point at which all public transportation into the South becomes "Jim Crow." If he stops in Washington, a Negro may dine like other man in the Union Station, but as soon as he steps out into the capital, he leaves such democratic practices behind. With very few exceptions, he is refused service at downtown restaurants, he may not attend a downtown movie or play, and he has to go into the poorer section of the city to find a night's lodging. The Negro who decides to settle in the District must often find a home in an overcrowded, substandard area. He must often take a job below the level of his ability. He must send his children to the inferior public schools set aside for Negroes and entrust his family's health to medical agencies which give inferior service. In addition, he must endure the countless daily humiliations that the system of segregation imposes upon the one-third of Washington that is Negro.
The origin of the pattern of discrimination in Washington is partly explained by its location in a border area where many southern customs prevail. Certain political and local pressure groups, and the administrative decisions of municipal officials contribute to its persistence. Attempts to guarantee equal rights on a segregated basis have failed. In recent years the "separate and unequal" pattern has been extended to areas where it had not previously existed. Except where the federal government has made a few independent advances, as in federal employment and the use of federal recreational facilities, racial segregation is rigid. It extends to ludicrous extremes. Inconsistencies are evident: Constitution Hall, owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution, seats concert audiences without distinctions of color, but allows no Negroes on its stage to give regular commercial concerts. On the other hand, the commercial legitimate theater has had Negro actors on its stage, but stubbornly refuses to admit Negro patrons.
Discrimination in education. -- The core of Washington's segregated society is its dual system of public education. It operates under congressional legislation which assumes the fact of segregation but nowhere makes it mandatory. The Board of Education and a white Superintendent of Schools administer two wholly separate school systems. The desire of Congress to insure equal facilities is implemented by a requirement that appropriations be allocated to white and Negro education in proportion to the numbers of children of school age. But this has not been successful. Negro schools are inferior to white schools in almost every respect. The, white school buildings have a capacity which is 27 percent greater than actual enrollment. In the colored schools, enrollment exceeds building capacity by eight percent. Classes in the Negro schools are considerably larger arid the teaching load of the Negro teachers considerably heavier. Less than one percent of all white school children, but over 15 percent of colored children, receive only part-time instruction. Similar inequalities exist in school buildings, equipment, textbook supplies, kindergarten classes, athletic, and recreational facilities.
The District Superintendent of Schools recently answered charges of inequality in school facilities with the statement that "Absolute equality of educational opportunity is impossible. Reasonable equality * * * is the goal." The conditions described above eloquently document the extent to which even "reasonable equality" is impossible in a segregated school system.
Official freezing of the segregated school system is complete. The Board of Education frowns on visits by whites to Negro schools and by Negroes to white schools. Intercultural education programs are still-born because they are considered a threat to the prevailing pattern. Interracial athletic and forensic competition is forbidden. Two cases illustrate the lengths to which the District's officialdom goes to prevent interracial contact. During the war, the Office of Price Administration asked permission to use a school building at night for in-service training of its clerks. The request was denied solely because the class would have included both white and colored employees. In the other case a white girl was ordered to withdraw from a Negro vocational
school where she had enrolled for a course not offered by any other public school in Washington.
Private universities in the District have followed the lead of the public schools. Two of the large universities and most of the smaller schools admit no colored students. American University admits them to its School of Social Science and Public Affairs, but not to the College of Arts and Sciences. Catholic University, on the other hand, presents an outstanding example of successful interracial education. In the last few years, Negroes have been admitted, and there is no color distinction in classes. Last year a Negro was elected a class officer. The presence of Howard University in Washington alleviates somewhat the problem of higher education for the District's Negroes. While Howard University is primarily a Negro institution, it also admits white students.
Discrimination in housing. -- In the past, many of Washington's Negroes and whites have lived close together in many parts of the city, and where mixed neighborhoods still exist, incidents of racial friction are rare. Now, however, Negroes are increasingly being forced into a few overcrowded slums.
Programs for the development of highways, parks, and public buildings have often played an unfortunate role in rooting out Negro neighborhoods. There has been a commendable desire to beautify the city of Washington. But there has been little concern for the fate of persons displaced by beautification projects.
The superior economic position of whites also contributes to the shrinkage of Negro neighborhoods. In areas like Georgetown and the old fort sites, white residents and realtors have been buying up Negro properties and converting them to choice residential use. Only occasionally does this process work in reverse: in deteriorating areas, white owners can sometimes get higher prices from Negroes, who have little from which to choose, than they can from white buyers.
The chief weapon in the effort to keep Negroes from moving out of overcrowded quarters into white neighborhoods is the restrictive covenant. New building sites and many older areas are now covenanted. Some covenants exclude all nonmembers of the Caucasian race; others bar only Negroes, or Negroes and members of "Semitic races." Even where covenants do not prevail, the powerful local real estate fraternity
protects white areas from "invasion." The all-white Washington Real Estate Board has a "code of ethics" which prohibits its members from selling land in predominantly white areas to Negroes, and the realtors arc supported in this practice by nonmember dealers, banks, and loan companies. Two of the city's newspapers will not accept ads offering property in white areas for sale to Negroes. Because the policy of the National Capital Housing Authority is to follow the "community pattern," all public housing projects are completely segregated and housing for Negroes is built only in established Negro neighborhoods. The Authority has spent most of its funds for permanent housing to build homes for Negroes, but its appropriations have been limited.
Housing conditions are poor for Washington residents in general, but largely because of the pressures just described, they are much worse for Negroes. According to a recent Board of Trade report on city planning, 70 percent of the inhabitants of the city's three worst slum areas are Negroes. The largest single slum in the District houses about seven percent of the white and 30 percent of the Negro population. In 1940, one-eighth of the white dwellings in Washington and 40 percent of those occupied by Negroes were substandard; 15 percent of white-occupied and 38 percent of Negro-occupied dwellings had more than one person per room.
Discrimination in employment. -- More than one-third of the jobs in Washington are with the federal government. Therefore, discriminatory practices of government agencies, which have already been discussed, are important to District Negroes. The District government itself has only a small proportion of Negro employees, and most of these are confined to unskilled and menial jobs. Partial exceptions to this are the Metropolitan Police, the segregated Fire Service, and the school system with its segregated staff. A ranking District official during the war told an interviewer: "Negroes in the District of Columbia have no right to ask for jobs on the basis of merit," the rationalization being that whites own most of the property and pay the bulk of municipal taxes.
Negroes are confined to the lowest paid and least skilled jobs in private employment. In 1940, three-fourths of all Negro workers in Washington were domestics, service workers or laborers, while only
one-eighth of the white workers held jobs of that type. At the other end of the scale, only one-eighth of all Negro workers were clerks, salesmen, managers, proprietors or professionals, while two-thirds of the white workers were in jobs of this kind. There are similar striking racial differences in average income and length of workweek.
A few examples will illustrate the part discrimination has played in causing these differences. During the war, Washington's public transportation system bogged down badly for lack of qualified street car and bus operators. The Capital Transit Company advertised for workers hundreds of miles away and even recruited government employees on a part-time basis. In spite of this, the company would not employ qualified Negroes as operators. In building construction, one of Washington's largest industries, the various building trade unions discriminate against colored craftsmen. They are either excluded completely, allowed to work only on projects to be occupied by Negroes, admitted only as helpers to white journeymen, or not allowed to become apprentices. The numerous large white hotels employ Negroes only in such capacities as chambermaids, busboys, waiters, and coal stokers. There are no colored salespeople in the large department stores. In laundries and cleaning plants where wages are low and hours long, most of the workers are colored, but supervisors are white; where whites and Negroes perform the same work, there is a wage differential of from 20 to 30 percent. The District Bar Association and the Medical Society are for whites only.
Discrimination in health services. -- The greatest inequalities are evident in Washington's concern for the health of its residents. Freedmen's Hospital, federally supported and affiliated with Howard University, is for Negroes only, and three-fourths of the beds in the municipal Gallinger Hospital are usually occupied by Negroes in segregated wards. Four of the twelve private hospitals in the city do not admit Negro in-patients, and the rest accept only a few in segregated wards. It is peculiarly shocking to find church hospitals practicing discrimination. Far fewer hospital beds in proportion to population are available to Negroes than to whites. Sickness rates are higher among Negroes than whites, which aggravates this situation. All but the smallest
clinics are segregated. Group Health Association, however, does not discriminate either in membership or services.
No Negro physician is allowed to practice in Gallinger Hospital, although it is publicly supported and the majority of its patients are colored. Nor are they allowed in St. Elizabeth's, a federal institution, or any of the private hospitals. Only Freedmen's is open to them, and then only for the care of assigned ward patients. Thus the Negro physician cannot follow his own patients into the hospital. Negro medical students are similarly discriminated against in the provision of training facilities.
Public and private agency welfare services are available to both colored and white residents, but institutional care is provided only on a segregated basis and the institutions for Negroes are far inferior in both number and quality to those for whites. Here again, the lower economic position of Negroes and their consequent need for care aggravates the problem.
Discrimination in recreational services. -- In the field of public recreation, compulsory segregation has increased over the past 25 years. Various public authorities have closed to one race or the other numerous facilities where whites and Negroes once played together harmoniously. In 1942, the District of Columbia Board of Recreation was set up to centralize the control of public recreation facilities. Congress eliminated from the locally sponsored bill a provision that would have required the new Board to continue segregation. But it took no positive stand on the issue, and the Board has adopted regulations which enforce segregation in all the parks and playgrounds under its control.
Under this policy, facilities in seven out of 26 "natural areas" in the District have been turned over to Negroes. Because the Negro areas are disproportionately concentrated in the older, crowded parts of the city, white facilities are generally superior to those allotted to Negroes. Furthermore, whites and Negroes alike who live far from facilities open to their race have easy access to none. White residents who had shared with Negroes the use of the Rose Park Tennis Courts protested in vain against being barred from them.
On the other hand, recreation facilities under the jurisdiction of the
Department of the Interior are open to all races, and serious friction is nonexistent. District officials have tried repeatedly to have these facilities turned over to the Recreation Board. The transfer has not been made because the Board will not agree to refrain from imposing segregation in their use.
Most private recreational groups follow the official policy of segregation, although occasional interracial competitions have been held successfully by some. The Washington Branch of the Amateur Athletic Union allows no interracial contests under its auspices. For example, no Negro may enter the local Golden Gloves Tournament, although they compete in the national tournament.
Discrimination in places of public accommodation. -- Public transportation is provided without separation of the races, and the spectators at most professional sporting events are unsegregate-. But other public accommodations are a focal point of Negro resentment, because rigorous segregation in practice means exclusion. No downtown theater except the burlesque house admits Negroes. They may see movies only in their neighborhood houses,. Some department stores and many downtown shops exclude Negro patrons by ignoring them or refusing to show the stock they request or making them wait until all white customers have been served. A Negro is seldom accepted at the downtown hotels unless special arrangements are made. Although they may dine at the Union Station, the YWCA, and the cafeterias in government office buildings, the overwhelming majority of downtown restaurants are closed to them.
The shamefulness and absurdity of Washington's treatment of Negro Americans is highlighted by the presence of many dark-skinned foreign visitors. Capital custom not only humiliates colored citizens, but is a source of considerable embarrassment to these visitors. White residents, because they are the dominant group, share in both the humiliation and the embarrassment. Foreign officials are often mistaken for American Negroes and refused food, lodging and entertainment. However, once it is established that they are not Americans, they are accommodated.
This is the situation that exists in the District of Columbia. The Committee feels most deeply that it is intolerable.
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