Race Prejudice and Discrimination: Readings in Intergroup Relations in the United States

By Arnold M. Rose | Go to book overview

B. Legal Discrimination

17. Violation of State and Federal Law *

The President's Committee on Civil Rights: Charles E. Wilson ( Chairman), Sadie T. Alexander, James B. Carey, John S. Dickey, Morris L. Ernst, Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn, Frank P. Graham, Bishop Francis J. Haas, Charles Luckman, Francis P. Matthews, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., Bishop Henry K. Sherrill, Boris Shishkin, Dorothy Tilly, and Channing Tobias

[One of the major manifestations of the growing concern for minority problems in the United States was President Truman's appointment of the Committee on Civil Rights in 1946. The report of this Committee, entitled To Secure These Rights, received nationwide attention and served as a basis for President Truman's program for civil rights legislation. A brief excerpt of the Committee's report reprinted here describes something of the legal problems of minorities, especially their subjection to physical violence.]


THE RIGHT TO SAFETY AND SECURITY OF THE PERSON

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

____________________
*
From To Secure These Rights, The Report of the President's Committee on Civil Rights, October, 1947.

-176-

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