PRESIDENT TRUMAN PROPOSES CIVIL RIGHTS LEGISLATION TO CONGRESS
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Sixty-nine years ago today, February 2, 1948, President Harry S Truman presented a civil rights program to the Congress of the United States.
According to the National Park Service, "President Truman took great political risk by presenting a daring civil rights speech to a joint session of Congress."*
Mr. Truman's program called for Federal protection against lynching, better protection of voting rights and a Fair Employment Practices Commission.
Because of a split in the Democratic Party over the issue and the blocking of the proposals in Congress, President Truman was unable to get approval. He did, however, succeed in issuing executive orders prohibiting discrimination in Federal employment and ending segregation in the military.
In his speech to the Congress, President Truman said...
"The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States...eloquently express the aspirations of all mankind for equality and freedom.
We shall not finally achieve (these) ideals so long as any American suffers discrimination as a result of race, or religion, or color, or his land of origin."
*He did indeed. Mr. Truman was not very popular, even in his own party, in 1948. His civil rights proposals were very unpopular in many parts of the south. Although he won an upset victory in 1948, Truman lost the traditional Democratic states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama & South Carolina.
"Harry S Truman and Civil Rights," www.nps.gov/
"Harry S Truman, Special Message to the Congress on Civil Rights," February 2, 1948, The American Presidency Project, www.presidency.ucsb.edu/