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Senator Bricker (Republican of Ohio) introduced such an amendment which would prohibit the use of Federal funds for subsidizing loans, grants and insurance for housing, public or private, which segregates the races.
A number of sponsors of the housing bill claim that Senator Bricker is not sincerely interested in public housing. In fact, they point out he is on record as being opposed to the bill. The reason that he has introduced the measure, the sponsors maintain, is to kill it.
No matter what Senator* Bricker's motives are, this is a good and necessary amendment if the Housing Act is to accomplish its professed aim of providing homes for those who need them most.
The recent filibuster against the first civil-rights test in Congress revealed conclusively that the Dixie diehards have no intention of enacting any portion of that program if they can prevent it.
Our only alternative, then, is to try to get as much equality as possible out of every measure which comes up, by seeing to it that each bill enacted makes bias and discrimination on account of race unlawful.
If the Dixiecrats are willing to deprive millions of American citizens of both races of decent homes rather than see democracy victorious, then the Nation and the world should know it. Then, and not until then, will the voters be incensed sufficiently to seek a solution to the unholy situation in which the poorest and most backward States establish the policy for the rest of the Nation. It is time for the tail to stop wagging the dog. This is as good a time as any and as good an issue as any.
That is the conclusion of the editorial in the Washington AfroAmerican of April 23, 1919. I wish here to include the entire editorial without reading it.
I would like to continue at this point and say to the committee that the Negroes of the Nation in their old slums are a kind of desperate beach head on their heritage as Americans. In shacks and huts they have been free to live everywhere in the city, but now they are driven back. When discrimination is personal and a matter of each man's private prejudice, Negroes are still freemen. But against planned segregation by the Government and congressional committees, they are helpless. When their exclusion becomes a good business proposition, when it is capitalized in bonds and banks, when the American Government drives them back, then, their last chance is gone.
Now, I would like, Mr. Chairman, to incorporate at this point in my testimony the complete statement that I have here, taken from the study of the National Committee's Report on Segregation and Housing in the Nation's Capital. I would like the chairman and the committee, knowing that you do not have time to read a lot of these things and realizing that you may not know, as some of us do, the impact upon the electorate of the action of Congress, to read this statement.
I might sum it up by saying that if the Democratic majority in the Senate and the House today—and I have sent a telegram to the President pointing this up, I have sent a telegram, too, to the leaders in the Senate, and I would like to include also in my statement this telegram sent to the leaders of both parties, pointing out what they pledged at Philadelphia on civil rights. This is a vital civil-rights issue to us and to every intellectually honest person, I am sure—I say it is up to this Congress, controlled by the Democratic Party, to insert in this housing legislation an antisegregation amendment and provide definite guaranties of equality to every American, in keeping with the Constitution, and the recent decision of the Supreme Court on restrictive covenants, which definitely outlawed them. Notwithstanding, some people continue to throw dynamite at Negroes' homes, like Bishop Green of the A. M. E. Church down there in Birmingham, Ala., the Dixiecrat stronghold, and others here who have broken window glass in Negro homes in Washington, D. C., during the past 2 or 3 weeks, trying to intimidate law-abiding citizens who want to live a peaceful, normal life in a home commensurate with what they can pay for and afford. In our judgment this Congress would be remiss in its duty, the Democratic Party would repudiate every promise it made to 13,000,000 Negroes in this country, unless they see to it that there is no discrimination in any project built out of funds authorized by this multibillion dollar over-all Federal housing program, anywhere in the United States.
There certainly is not a single Negro who went out to fight in World War II and lived in a foxhole for years who wants to be told that a Government housing project, built with taxpayers' money from the Federal Treasury in some neighborhood is for white people only and white veterans and their families but not for Negroes, as they would bar cats or dogs. No other implication could be drawn from congressional failure to prohibit racial discrimination and segregation. It would be cruel. After being willing, glad, happy, and honored to fight for their country, Negro veterans who pay the same taxes as everyone else should be guaranteed their equality and constitutional rights. This is the most fundamental issue that will come before the Congress. I wish to read from this opening statement of the National Committee Report on Segregation and Housing in the Nation's Capital, which clearly indicates some of the false conceptions that many important citizens hold. It begins, quote:
Race segregation here in Washington, in the Nation's Capitalis a “natural state,” and certain groups which agitate against it are "unscrupulous" and "un-American."
This is a statement of the President of the Federation of Citizens Association, from the Washington Post of October 15, 1947.
The citizens association, Mr. Chairman, happens to be an organization that excludes Negroes from membership in the National Capital, right here in Washington. They have a segregated Jim Crow set-up that they call the Civic Association, that a Negro citizen who pays the same taxes as any other citizen, can join if he desires to be heard at all in the Nation's Capital before the Congress on public matters. So these people who live away from us and isolate us and discriminate against us propose to tell you what we want and what is a naturally desirable Nazi state to them in the citadel of democracy.
It might surprise the people we liberated from Nazi ghettoes to know that race segregation is defended as both natural and American by the business and property interests that dominate the Nation's Capital.
But the fact is that the leaders who call segregation natural are the ones who enforce it. There is no reason to suppose the practice is American.
The situation can be expressed most briefly by setting side by side the Federal statute, recently cited by the Supreme Court in holding restrictive covenants unenforceable, and the present rules of practice of the Washington Real Estate Board, representing the principal business enterprise of the city (Washington,
ACT OF CONGRESS, APRIL 9, 1866
All citizens of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory, as is enjoyed by white citizens thereof to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey, real and personal property.
Now, I read from this report the edict from the Washington Real Estate Board code of ethics, 1948:
No property in a white section should ever be sold, rented, advertised, or of: fered to colored people. In case of doubt, advice from the Public Affairs Committee should be obtained.
Among the active members of the real estate board, and subscribing to its "code of ethics" are 25 banks, insurance and title companies, and building and loan associations. Because of the absence of heavy industry, these groups hold
a position of unchallenged leadership in the economic life of the community-c of the Nation's Capital.
The District's only industry of consequence is the Federal Government.
This might be cited as typical of these real estate interests throughout the country,
I do not wish to read the entire report, Mr. Chairman, I wish. however, to again quote from this study.
Real-estate men themselves report that Negroes make good home owners, ind and that, given a chance, they take care of their property. A few years ago, the National Association of Real Estate Boards published the results of a surrer it conducted among the local boards. Here are the answers to some of thequestions:
No. 1. Does the Negro make a good home buyer and carry through bis purchase to completion?
"Yes,” was the almost unanimous reply, “very good." Better than whites of the same economic status," some cities report. Their tenacity and willing: ness to sacrifice to hold on to their homes far exceed whites.
No. 4. Does the Negro abuse property, or does he take as good care of it as other tenants of comparable status?
He takes good care of it, in many cases better care than other tenants of his economic group, say 11 cities, 73 percent of those reporting to the National Real Estate Board's (in stlicy.
Why then should Negroes be denied equal housing by the Federal Government and Congress?
I quote further from the report:
No. 5. Do you think there is good opportunity for realtors in the Negro housing field in your city?
"Yes," say almost two-thirds of the cities (63 percent).
The local real-estate board has nothing against Negroes as home owners. But exclusiveness has a market value, and is a substantial factor in determining what many white people will offer for residential property. Thus segregation is good business.
By throwing up racial barriers, a realtor can capitalize on the racial feelings of some of his customers without making the property less value to others. Once this process starts, racial prejudice becomes an investment, and enters into the resale price of all lots in the area.
In this way Negroes have been barred from most of the new subdivisions, and they are now being boosted out of many old neighborhoods where they lived undisturbed for generations. A striking example is Georgetown, throughout which colored people formerly lived intermingled with whites.
And so it goes in similar pattern in every State of the Union, Mr. Chairman.
I would like at that point to point out how money was made in Georgetown; how these people first mulcted the white people on thesedeals and turned around and doubled up on the Negroes. Unless Con
gress, as one of the other witnesses indicated goes into this far more seriously than is apparent by the lack of newspaper representatives— the press generally paying no attention to this hearing, at least todayI know it is a busy day with the labor bill and all of that—but, Mr. Chairman, unless the impact of this whole housing situation and the relationship of segregation, slums, disease, and crime are understood by the Congress and the people this vicious circle will be endless, just as long as this practice of building so-called segregated housing projects is permitted by law or subterfuge. It only means piling up slums everywhere and more billions of dollars are poured down the drain of illegal discrimination and segregation. With all the billions that we are sending over to Europe to rehabilitate the people over there and nothing done by Congress to stop this unholy business on the home front, where will we end?
I might say that I have attended a great many hearings and I have noted that wherever the question of implementing our Atlantic Pact in Europe, sending arms to all these people who will probably shoot it back like the Japanese did the scrap iron we once sent them, into the bodies of our own boys, if they do not have the atom bomb, and all of those things, great public interest is indicated, but when we talk of charity here and come back to this matter of the white and Negro veterans, the good Americans who saved democracy, who stopped Hitler and Tojo, then, we observe only a cursory interest as manifested by a few devoted statesmen like those who are present here this afternoon. I
say it seems almost tragic how inarticulate we are to the needs of our own people. As I go out over the country talking with a loud-speaker on top of my car, trying to bring home to the people that there is something radically wrong in this country, and its legislative program, when the greatest interest is only in taking care of people from somewhere else and not here at home, especially if they are among the 13,000,000 Negroes.
If you could have stood with me yesterday on the street corner in Newark, N. J., and looked into the faces of twoscore Negroes, listening to our recital, and have seen those shacks and hovels that these American citizens are trying to rear their families and children in, and then hear all this talk about rehabilitating Europe in Congress, and silent repudiation or filibuster on civil rights, you would see what I mean. When you come in and ask for a simple amendment to provide equality to all American citizens and veterans to live in homes built by Federal funds, without racial discrimination and segregation, someone wants to question the motives of the proponents of the amendment.
I believe the decent statesmen could outvote the Dixiecrats if they once even tried, rather than to bow to them. We outvoted them in the recent 1948 election. If they had had their way, there would not be a Democratic President, a Democratic administration, or a Democratic majority in Congress. I think it is high time that somebody called a halt on this double dealing and political hokum that every Negro is wise to.
I quote further from the Record of April 21, 1949:
Mr. KNOWLAND. Mr. President, I should like to ask the distinguished Senator if I correctly understood him to say that the amendment would endanger the legislation for the simple reason, as was pointed out by the Senator from Alabama, that the States where the need is great would take advantage of the situation, Is that correct?
Senator DOUGLAS. That is only a part of the story. It would prevent any public housing in the South. In my judgment, it would also probably defeat the purpose of the bill in the North itself, and would result in no housing for the North, because while I very much appreciate the generosity of the Senator from
The CHAIRMAN. The members all have the Congressional Record, Mr. Brown.
Mr. E. G. BROWN. We think that ought to be the position of the Democratic majority in the United States and in keeping with the Constitution and the Supreme Court, "equal rights and justice under law” and no racial discrimination and segregation. We are going to take that question to the voters, too, and we will let history be the judge. We hope it will not be necessary to oppose a lot of people that are now in the House as well as those in the Senate who voted against this antidiscrimination and segregation provision in all Federal housing legislation.
If this committee and the House will correct what was not done over in the Senate, and include an antidiscrimination and antisegregation amendment in this over-all Federal housing program, housing will be done. If this is not done, I hope it will be possible to secure from the Supreme Court or Comptroller General an injunction to stop the voting out of money from the public treasury to discriminate and segregate American citizens in violation of the Constitution by thus denying them their equal rights on account of race, creed, or color. I believe that that is probably what will happen, because there is good ground as inferred by Congressman Cole, who commented about the civil rights issue involved.
This is not only a civil rights issue. This is a constitutional issue. This is a Supreme Court issue.
I would like, Mr. Chairman, not to take any more time. I appreciate your indulgence, but I would like to include in my remarks this statement that I have just started reading, as well as another statement from the Afro-American newspaper on the question of socalled mixed housing. There is no reason in the world for these places called Stuyvesant Town projects, up in New York, where they have erected the so-called Stuyvesant homes, a big housing project with private funds of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., definitely excluding colored people from occupancy. If the Congress does not provide antisegregation amendments, all they are doing is endorsing the Stuyvesant plan to put the Federal Government in the unholy business of building segregated houses all over the United States setting that up as a pattern forever, and I certainly do not believe that is in keeping with the Constitution, the United Nations Charter, the spirit of brotherhood and the dignity of human personality:
The CHAIRMAN. How long are the statements you want to insert ?
Mr. E. G. BROWN. Thank you. I wish to conclude by saying that I hope that my good friend Congressman O'Hara will take up the antidiscrimination cudgel again, as he did in the case of the amendment to protect the veterans in the rent control law, and I would like to say, Mr. Chairman, that the Congress has done this heretofore. In the Civil Aeronautics Act, there is an antidiscrimination amendment.