The Federal Executive and Civil Rights

The Federal Executive and Civil Rights


Vol. 22, No. 1, 2000, p. 15

In 1961 the SRC submitted a forty-eight-page report to the Kennedy administration entitled the “Federal Executive and Civil Rights” in which it advised the implementation of eighteen steps for the administration to model in order to improve civil rights. Reproduced here is a truncated version of the report which appeared in the March 1961 issue of New South.

The Southern Regional Council has submitted to President Kennedy and his administration a 48-page report proposing actions by the executive department to strengthen civil rights and improve race relations.

The report, entitled “The Federal Executive and Civil Rights,” states that the President holds power under the Constitution and existing statutes which, if used, “could carry the country far toward good race relations.”

It furthers declares: “Presidential action should not be so emphasized as to blunt the drive for remedial legislation. But the existing powers of the office should be used, and every governmental program administered in such ways as to move expeditiously to end discrimination and to open all careers to talent.

“The federal government’s own operations need to be a model of just race relations, or else the credentials of the government to lead others are weak.”

The eighteen proposals made by the Council are summarized as follows:

1. Appoint a staff adviser on race relations and create a single office to review all federal programs to ensure nondiscrimination in the government’s own operations.

2. Use the influence of the executive office to broaden Southern support for civil rights.

3. Announce as a national goal the full and free development of all our human resources, thereby setting the moral tone of America.

4. Direct overseas information programs to interpret our racial strife and change truthfully and candidly.

5. Continually review federal employment to insure nondiscrimination, rather than rely on the current processing of complaints.

6. Frequently appoint qualified Negroes to high level administrative posts in government service here and abroad.

7. Affirm support of the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision and opposition to segregated schools; direct the Department of Justice to test in court its existing authority to intervene in or initiate school desegregation suits.

8. Give special attention to racial equality in federal aid for vocational training and the schooling of children of military personnel.

. Give no federal research funds to colleges and universities that restrict admission because of race, creed, color, or national origin.

10. Direct the Department of Justice to be vigilant in the prevention or control of violence and intimidation connected with school desegregation or sit-ins.

11. Adequately staff the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

12. Sponsor a national voter registration drive, supported by wide distribution of information on voter qualifications and procedures in every state.

13. Require all National Guard units to drop racial bars.

14. Examine the “separate, but unequal” clause in the Hill-Burton hospital construction for unconstitutionality.

15. Make a final, decisive effort to end segregation on common carriers in interstate or intrastate traffic.

16. Require large contractors of the government to recruit Negro employees as a condition for contract award.

17. End at once federal cooperation with discrimination in the apprenticeships and employment services.

18. Guide federal housing programs with a policy of encouraging integration.