Primary Documents of the Civil Rights Movement

Document 1
FROM PRESIDENT'S COMMITTEE ON CIVIL RIGHTS, TO SECURE THESE RIGHTS (1947)

In 1946, in the wake of several brutal lynchings, including the murder of a black World War II veteran, President Harry S Truman established the President's Committee on Civil Rights to investigate race relations in the United States and to make recommendations based on its findings. Concerns over how racial incidents were affecting America's image abroad and its ability to contain communism prodded the commission to take an honest look at the subject. In 1947 the committee issued its report, entitled "To Secure These Rights" in which it delineated the basic rights and principles of a democratic society and detailed the many ways in which African-Americans were denied them. The report was the first of its kind and contained the strongest official condemnation of racial inequality since at least Reconstruction. Shortly after the committee issued its report, the President desegregated the armed forces. However, most of the committee's other recommendations were not implemented until the mid-1960s.


The Time Is Now

Twice before in American history the nation has found it necessary to review the state of its civil rights. The first time was during the 15 years between 1776 and 1791, from the drafting of the Declaration of Independence through the Articles of Confederation experiment to the writing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It was then that the distinctively

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