« PreviousContinue »
Then we were notified that there had been another meeting. I frankly did not receive notice even though I was a member of the committee. That may have been my fault, sometimes I don't always get notices at which three of the six members-not a quorum as I see it—had participated, and the report was totally reversed, it had been about a seven page—the original report was seven pages in which the recommendations were—the recommendations were very short. I would just like to read them to you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator HARRIS. That was Senator Javits' next question, to give us the gist of the recommendations of that original report. So on behalf of him, I ask the question.
Mr. Higgs. I don't see any other way I can answer it without giving the recommendations.
The recommendations to the leadership conference, unanimously by the committee, at this meeting were
That an appropriate letter with press release be drafted by those experienced in such matters and sent from the leadership conference to the President making the following points as strongly as possible. First, general critical comment about the administration's seeming abdication of its former substantive commitments to civil rights. B. General positive suggestions to rectify the present sad state of the administration's noncommitment to civil rights by the creation of an independent agency, adequately staffed and budgeted and directly responsible to the White House to coordinate, oversee, and advise Federal agencies and departments in their implementation of existing civil rights legislation. This agency should have the authority, if necessary, to bring the power of the White House directly to bear upon any agency that does not live up to its mandate under existing legislation. Finally, specific denunciation of the proposed transfer of Community Relations Service to the Department of Justice with the recommendation that the apparent decision to do so be reconsidered so that for the time being at least the Community Relations Service remains where Congress placed it,
in Commerce, pending the time when the Department of Housing and Urban Development becomes fully staffed and operative, at which time consideration of the feasibility of relocation of the Community Relations Service there may be appropriate.
Senator HARRIS. What was the date of that original report?
Now, I do not see the date. As I recall the report was approximately 2 weeks later, because that was the time we had decided at the meeting. So it would be just about around the first of January or so.
Senator HARRIS. To get to what you may be about to say, let me ask Senator Javits' next question.
What action has the leadership conference taken on this recommendation, the one you just read ?
Mr. Higgs. Well, Mr. Chairman, this recommendation was never formally presented to the leadership conference. Dr. Sissel apparently was contacted by the leadership of the leadership conference, as I understand it, and was requested to convene another meeting. This meeting occurred on January 25.
Now, I personally, as I say, did not receive notice of that meeting. But as I understand, three voting members were there, Dr. Sissel and the two members who did not show up at the first meeting that was called—and at this time the original unanimous report was reconsidered and rejected and a new report of one page was approved as the report of the full committee by a vote of two to one, Dr. Sissel abstaining from the vote.
Senator HARRIS. By what vote?
Mr. HIGGS. Two for, none against, and one abstention, Dr. Sissel. No one else present could vote.
Senator HARRIS. Would you present that report to us?
This is dated January 28, 1966. This is to the members of the committee, a memo from Dr. Sissel.
At the January 25 meeting of the ad hoc committee on Federal Reorganization of Civil Rights Functions a long discussion took place relative to the report you have all received on which you were asked to comment.
Although three members of the committee subsequently could not be present, the meeting was held that day because all of the six members either personally or through a secretary had indicated they would be present.
Following the discussion, a majority of the committee present voted not to make to the LCCR the report as circulated among the committee. Instead, the committee voted to report the following to the LCCR.
After study and discussion of the reassignment of Federal civil rights responsibility in accordance with the Vice President's memo of September 24, 1965, the ad hoc committee recommends that the LCCR:
1. Keep close watch on the actual effectiveness of the reorganization during the coming months, and
2. Give special attention and energy to the enforcement and implementation of title VI. So, Mr. Chairman, the next meeting of the LCCR was held, as I recall, the first part of February, the first week or so in February, and again, in answer to Senator Javits' question, the action that was taken was that this was the only report, the one I've just read, that was presented. There was objection to that by a number of people, several of us did object, and a motion was made to substitute the report that was first read essentially. Then the chairman of the conference, Mr. Mitchell, representing Mr. Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, then stated that the report of the committee would be circulated to all members and that we would have a meeting soon, shortly thereafter, at which we were to decide whether or not to accept the report, and would not finish it that afternoon.
A number of us insisted that the original report also be sent to all members of the conference. We were overruled by the chairman. But to my knowledge, not even the one-page report has been sent. I personally do not recall having received it. And, of course, there has been no meeting to date to take a position on this, though of, course, many of us again have great concern, because of these hearings, and frankly have the feeling that this committee should have the views of the leadership conference or at least of the constituent members of the conference,
Senator HARRIS. Do you have anything further to add ?
Let me say that I hope that I shall again have the pleasure of appearing before a committee that is chaired, even though temporarily, by such a courteous Member of this Congress, and I thank you very much for the opportunity of being here.
Senator HARRIS. Thank you. Your appearance has been helpful to us.
The committee will now be pleased to hear from Mr. George Schermer, human relations counselor.
STATEMENT OF GEORGE SCHERMER OF GEORGE SCHERMER
Mr. SCHERMER. Mr. Chairman, my name is George Schermer. I live at 210 A Street NE., Washington, D.C.
I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to testify on this proposal.
Perhaps I should say a word or two about my credentials.
I have worked professionally in the field of community relations and equal opportunity for 21 years. In 1945 I was appointed as executive director of what was then known as the Mayor's Interracial Committee of the City of Detroit. It is now the Commission on Community Relations. From 1953 until 1963 I served as director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.
Since June 1963 I have operated my own consulting service in human relations under the names of “George Schermer Associates." Among my clients have been large corporations, municipalities, foundations, institutions, and U.S. Government agencies including at one time the Community Relations Service. I was one of the founders and the first president of the National Association of Intergroup Relations Officials.
My appearance here is that of an expert witness. I do not represent any organization or group. The main thrust of my testimony is that the community relations function has been inappropriately defined in title X-as events are today—there might have been a good reason for its having been outlined as it was when the legislation was passed, and that the community relations function has not been properly understood either within the Government or outside it. I do not hold a doctrinaire view concerning which departmental umbrella should shelter the community relations function. I shall urge, however, that the CRS should not be transferred from where it is now until there is a clearer understanding of its program responsibilities.
I trust that no one will infer that I am being critical of the administration's policy or posture on civil rights. Nothing could be further from the truth. President Johnson's leadership in pressing for civil rights legislation and the general posture of the Federal Establishment in this regard have moved the Nation further toward equality in 2 years than in the entire preceding 100 years. Of course the civil rights movement and many Senators and Congressmen have made equally notable contributions to that advance.
The major advances to date have been in the arena of legislation and rulemaking. There is more to be done along these lines but that is not the concern here.
As a former executive of a municipal community relations agency and as a consultant I have had considerable opportunity to observe and analyze the role of Government in the civil rights field. It is my observation that in addition to lawmaking there are three principal functions which Government should serve:
(a) Factfinding and objective measurement. (b) Community relations. (c) Compliance. While these may be obvious I shall offer a brief definition of each:
(a) Factfinding and objective measurement
This is the function now performed by the Civil Rights Commission. The function is a vital one and the independent status of the Commission is essential to maintain a competent, reliable, and respected source of information. Until recently the CRS has focused primarily upon the patterns, practices, and problems which were the product of the behavior of persons, institutions, and levels of government outside the Federal Establishment. Now that the legislation has placed so much responsibility upon the Federal Government it will become increasingly necessary for the CRS to measure the effectiveness of Federal programs, which is all the more reason why it should be independent. (6) Community relations
I am using the term "community relations” in a generic and programmatic sense rather than as defined by title X. My definition does not include conciliation as used in titles II and X of the Civil Rights Act. Nor does it place emphasis upon the settlement of disputes, again, in a formal sense.
Community relations programing is not easily defined. I should like to use two illustrations:
First, let's consider the example of a good school. There are rules; there is discipline. Pupils know that if the rules are not observed there are penalties. However, if the school is well directed the rules and discipline simply serve as a foundation for minimum standards of behavior. Real learning, which requires motivation and enthusiasm, requires leadership and a high degree of volunteer participation among the students.
As a second example we might think of a public health program. Sanitary laws, inspections, and enforcement would be essential. We couldn't protect the public health without them. But a good health program would go far beyond law enforcement. There would be health education and a great many noncoercive, cooperative, and voluntary programs that would go far beyond the minimum requirements established by law.
These same concepts apply to promoting equal opportunity and healthy community relations. Assuming that the law will be effectively enforced we will want to develop the voluntary programs that will generate the enthusiasm and cooperation for building the good society. (c) Compliance
The compliance function consists of four successive steps or elements as follows:
(1) Affirmative regulation—this includes all of the education, information, persuasion, compliance reviews, inspections, and the like that help to develop voluntary compliance.
When I talk about persuasion and compliance and so forth, I want to make it clear that I'm talking about an operation that is related to the demands of the law, not something that goes beyond the minimum requirements of law. (2) Investigation of specific complaints, hearings, and findings.
, (3) Conciliation, in which a resolution of the problem or practice is attempted in lieu of enforcement proceedings.
(4) Formal enforcement proceedings.
This is admittedly overly simplified but it should suffice for the purposes of this discussion.
Compliance under the Civil Rights Act is delegated in part to the agencies responsible under title VI, the EEOC, and the Attorney General except that under title II a court may delegate the conciliation function to the CRS.
Returning now to the community relations function as I have defined it above, I suggest that localities, all over the United States where there are significant numbers of non whites, need assistance in developing affirmative, noncoercive, cooperative programs to solve their local problems. Remember, I am not saying they need this instead of the compliance program. There won't be any programs at all if we don't have compliance. The programs are needed in addition to compliance. Many localities do not understand this and many others understand but do not know how to develop the programs. In most instances there is not enough local support to develop the necessary program.
The Federal agency should provide direct services in some areas that are not ready to set up local committees or commissions. In most areas the local leadership can provide the base of operations and the Federal Service can supply technical assistance. Among the greatest needs are Federal grants for specific projects such as the promotion of local police-community relations programs, training services for local leadership, local factfinding, and dissemination of reliable information.
I come now to the question of whether my description of a community relations function coincides with what the CRS is actually doing or is expected to do. As I read the act it is not at all clear that it is what the CRS is supposed to do.
Sections 204(d) and 1003(b) are fairly explicit in stating that under certain conditions CRS is to serve as a conciliation service in connection with the compliance function.
The restraints upon the divulgence of information in section 1003 (b) are so broad and severe that one would expect most CRS personnel to be too frightened to communicate.
I'm not saying they are too frightened, but if I were working in that agency under that rule, I would
be. That might be the right way to conduct the conciliation of issues under litigation or between parties in a dispute comparable to labor negotiations but it is no way to develop a community relations program.
Section 1002 quite appropriately authorizes the CRS “to provide assistance to communities and persons therein. * * *” Unfortunately it goes on to say “in resolving disputes, disagreements, and difficulties relating to discriminatory practices.
From my knowledge of what the CRS has been wanting to do I think it has not been internally inhibited by this clause. They have been wanting to go beyond those limitations.
However, I believe that a narrow interpretation of this clause by others has been an inhibiting factor. The assumption appears to be that the CRS is to fight fires. When a community is in trouble; when "disputes” are imminent, then CRS is to offer its services. Of course, CRS should offer its services at any time including times of conflict.
, But it ought to be promoting a broad
program of preventive and affirmative action.