JUNE 25, 1945
HYDE PARK, Sunday—I have just received from the State of Georgia a copy of a petition which some citizens of that state have sent to the members of the Congress of the United States, urging the enactment of the Fair Employment Practice Commission bill.
"Establishment of a permanent Fair Employment Practice Commission is supported by some 60-odd national organizations," the petition states. "Both the Republican party and the Democratic party are committed to such legislation by their party platforms, as well as by the fact that the Presidential nominees of both parties promised support to this legislation in the last national campaign.
"We are approaching the end of our military war. Events are moving swiftly. We cannot afford to permit our actions to lag behind the tempo of irresistible forces."
The petition is signed by many of the finest and most progressive white citizens of Georgia, as well as by many highly respected colored citizens. Mass meetings have been held in favor of the enactment of this legislation in both Washington and New York, and, I imagine, in other places.
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From our domestic point of view, I think it is of great importance to us that we establish once and for all the principle that there shall be no discrimination in economic opportunity among our citizens. It is not only the colored people who are concerned. We have many other minority groups who have felt the pressure of discrimination when it came to the question of employment. We have fought a war to establish the dignity of the individual—his freedom and his equal rights as a human being. We cannot very well permit at home conditions which would curtail, or make more difficult, that freedom from want which is one of the basic freedoms that must exist side by side with political and religious freedom.
Most of us believe it essential that we accept as a responsibility of government, in conjunction with industry and agriculture, the obligation to provide full employment. We know that only with full employment can everybody have a job. But if jobs are curtailed, we must prevent the bitterness that would come if the curtailment occurred largely among minority groups.
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This is important not only as a domestic issue, but as an international issue. The peoples of the world who are looking at the United States are sizing up our attitude toward them in relation to our attitude toward the citizens belonging to minority groups in our own country. These people of foreign nations will lack confidence in their equality of opportunity, where we are concerned, if they see us deny that equality to minority groups at home.
The courage shown by the people of Georgia should be an inspiration to the people in the rest of our country, and I hope that we will overwhelmingly register our wishes with our representatives for economic democracy within our borders.