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also administers similar legislation in the fields of public accommodations and employment.
I might add in there that one of the commission's principal jobs is conciliation, investigations, attempts to reach a fair solution without undue publicity of any nature.
My point is that these seem to me to be details. They are important. Someone has to make decisions about them. Yet what seems to me most impotrant is that color, religion, and country of national origin have no proper place in buying, selling, and leasing houses and apartments. Because this is an area in which people are caught up in fear and prejudice, Rhode Island and many other States decided it was necessary to pass legislation to insure that real estate transactions would be based on the qualifications of individuals rather than on their membership in this or that group. I urge the Congress to take the same step which has already been taken by many States, including my own.
I have only one detail on which I would like to comment. Respectfully, I would recommend the addition of language similar to section 706(b) of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which would require that complaints be deferred to State commissions in those cases where the applicable provisions of State legislation are substantially similar to the corresponding provisions of the present bill.
But, Mr. Chairman, while I am in favor of this legislation, I must also register my disappointment with it. It is necessary, but it is not enough. Title IV is likely to benefit only those in the nonwhite community who are already relatively able to fend for themselves. It is likely to benefit only those middle-class nonwhites who have already achieved some educational and economic stature, who have incentive, and, perhaps most important, who both understand and trust completely the complicated legal machinery which must be used if fair housing is to work. Let me underscore my point here. I am for this legislation, because I think it is important, for many reasons, to establish the principle of freedom in the housing market. But I am also expressing my disappointment that the bill is not more imaginative than it is, for by itself it is not likely to help us in northern urban areas to cope with those massive problems which today constitute the frontier of the civil rights movement.
Specifically, my largest disappointment with this bill, therefore, is its excessive reliance on the essentially negative role of nondiscrimination law and its failure to recognize the importance of administrative policy and program. Section 408, dealing with the responsibilities of the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the various commissions and services in this field, is indeed weak. The point is that antidiscrimination statutes are limited in what they can be expected to accomplish. After their passage, the highly urbanized States in the Northeast are still faced with severe problems.
The unhappy facts are that the overwhelming number of nonwhites in the urban North are living in more and more tightly concentrated areas of our cities; significant proportions of them live in what the Census Bureau calls, officially, deteriorating or dilapidated housing; and, yet, considering the quality of their housing, they pay relatively more in rent than their white counterparts. Their schools tend to be segregated, employment opportunities are still limited, incomes are low. We must move beyond the negative principle of nondiscrimination to positive programs and policies designed to bring about real change, and we must do so before rather than after desperate acts of violence force us to do so.
President Johnson said in his address at Howard University in June 1965:
You do not take a person who for years has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, "You're free to compete with all the others," and still believe that you have been completely fair.
I agree with that statement and I do not believe that this legislation is "completely fair," for it fails at the critical point to instruct Goverment departments and agencies to take a more complete look at the most desperate problems of our cities and, in cooperation with the States, find beginning ways to meet them.
Let me voice some broad concerns: In recent years, we have embarked on a number of vast Federal programs designed to renew our cities, revitalize education, and wipe out poverty. All of these areas of our common life need full attention. The fact is, however, that these programs have all too often had unhappy consequences.
For example, look at the effects of urban renewal on the non white. According to a report by the Urban League of Rhode Island, twothirds of the nonwhite families in the city of Providence were forced to move at least once just within the 5-year period between 1955 and 1960. I would like to stress the words "forced to move." These were not voluntary moves. It is abundantly clear that the burden of urban renewal, redevelopment, and highway construction is borne primarily by the poor and especially by the nonwhite poor. These forced moves not only weaken community life and leadership, they also mean, too often, increased segregation, poorer living conditions, and higher rentals. We need far more careful policy and far more creative planning and counsel in this whole field. The burdens of urban change must be more equally carried.
Again, look at the effects of our welfare programs on the nonwhite male. In Providence, one out of three of our nonwhite families has only one parent. Two of five nonwhite children under the age of 18 live with only one parent, usually the mother. Our present work with such families is mainly through the aid to families with dependent children and the aid to dependent children programs. In terms of the status of the nonwhite male and the strength of family life, these programs, even at their best, fail to do what must be done. At their worst, they often hurt rather than help. The McCone report on the Watts riots has this to say about the effect of the ADC program on the man and the family:
The welfare program that provides for his children is administered so that it injures his position as the head of the household, because aid is supplied with less restraint to a family headed by a woman married or unmarried. Thus, the unemployed male often finds it to his family's advantage to drift away and leave the family to fend for itself. Once he goes, the family unit is broken and seldom restored.
Welfare is a complicated subject with many variations in program from State to State. There is little question, however, that the ceilings on the degree of Federal participation in these programs make it impossible for States to make a realistic contribution to stabilizing the nonwhite family, and all families who are on aid, I might say.
Third, the vast poverty program has had its adverse effects. By making a sudden call on the social work profession, offering high salaries, and raiding the top leadership of public and private agencies, it has weakened the morale of other social workers and generally weakened the necessary ongoing work of regular State and local welfare services. We need new programs, but we need to be more careful about how we frame them. And we need, specially, concerted action at all levels of government to encourage more and more young people to enter the social work profession and to make it financially feasible, if not downright attractive, for them to take on the less glamorous tasks.
Fourth, the poverty program in our communities has had an almost devastating effect on the leadership in nonwhite neighborhoods and in civil rights groups. I suppose inevitably in a crash program you turn to existing leadership rather than developing new leaders. But, in so doing, some of the most trusted Negro leaders in our communities have become part of what many in the ghetto consider the "untrustworthy establishment" and thus suspect in those very communities with which they are expected to work.
I have no vest-pocket solution to this problem. At this point I can simply record my deep concern about the rate with which leaders of various kinds of private action groups are leaving their posts to become employees of one or another level of government and in too many instances leaving their home communities to go to other cities in the process. I do not think this is a healthy situation in a democracy, and it does seem to me largely the result of the newest Federal programs.
My point thus far is that many Federal programs have actually had adverse effects on the problems with which civil rights legislation must be concerned, and, secondly, that the present bill does not adequately focus attention on the most pressing of those problems.
My second broad concern is a matter of technique. All urban areas share common problems; yet each will have a somewhat different set and some peculiar to itself. Metropolitan Providence is not Metropolitan Chicago. We have certain unique strengths and weaknesses that reflect local conditions and history." My concern therefore is that all Federal legislation in this field should encourage and support local imagination and experimentation. The present legislation does not appear to do this.
It is all too clear that for all of our law, court decisions, and programs, the word is not yet clearly out that the doors of opportunity are really open. This is a subtle but very important point. It is not enough in any area of civil rights—whether you are talking about housing or education or employment or public accommodations—it is not enough simply to establish a policy of nondiscrimination. One must take affirmative steps to insure that those of our citizens who have been discriminated against for years know about the policy of nondiscrimination and believe that the doors are open. It is not enough simply to say, "Now, the doors are open"; one must say it in such a way that it is heard. Moreover, we must also be about the difficult business of finding the specific openings and the particular people to fill them. We must be willing on the local level actually to recruit individuals, train and place them. Federal policy must permit and even encourage all kinds of experimentation.
To illustrate: In response to the widely advertised services of the Federal Community Relations Service and the Federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, our Rhode Island Commission Against Discrimination, which is the agency within our State that handles these matters, has made several efforts to get help to do a very simple, specific task. We asked for professional assistance in an area of South Providence which is heavily nonwhite to help us with a survey of families to find those who might be interested in moving out of this ghetto area. Instead of assistance and support, we met a blank wall—not because of incompetence, but because the agencies seem to be interested only in programs that can be handled uniformly across the country.
On the other hand, the regional office of the Community Relations Service recently sent us a man who spent several days carefully listening to and picking the brains of many of our people. But then, of all things, he was forbidden by Federal policy from sharing the results of his conversations with us. My point is that this bill, like others before it, fails to initiate the kind of Federal, regional, State, and local cooperation which may permit us to get at our most troublesome urban problems.
The civil rights movement in the United States todav is many sided and complex. There is always a strong temptation to believe that some problems must be dealt with before others. We are sometimes tempted even to think that, if certain problems are dealt with properly, the others will disappear.
Mr. Chairman, I do not consider myself an expert in this field. Yet my experience tells me that housing, employment, education, voting, welfare, public accommodations, present discrimination and the effects of past discrimination are all bound up together, and we do ourselves no favor unless we quite realistically face up to this situation. This is the reason why I have taken the liberty today to discuss matters which, technically speaking, may be beyond the jurisdiction of this committee. But the chairman was kind enough to invite me to come to Washington to testify and I have spoken to you about the things which are on my mind as the Governor of Rhode Island and as a citizen of the United States.
Most of the legislation presently being considered will have little or no impact on my State. It will probably have little impact on the northeastern region. As a plain citizen, however, the whole bill seems to me clearly necessary, and I would urge its passage as soon as possible.
I must repeat my disappointment in section 408 of title IV. This is the one section which takes cognizance of the most pressing problems in my part of the country, because it is the one section that envisions the need for administrative policy and programs which go beyond the narrow concept of nondiscrimination.
Finally, however, let me repeat once more that, even as it stands, the civil rights bill of 1966 seems to me to be necessary legislation, and I urge its passage.
Senator Ervin. Governor, I notice that you say you favor open housing, open occupancy.
Governor CHAFEE. Yes, sir.
Senator Ervin. Because it establishes the principle of freedom in housing. Does it not establish that principle of freedom at the expense of freedoms of the owners ?
Governor CHAFEE. I think we are always having to equate these matters in the United States. We have had it in whether a man's restaurant is his kingdom or whether everybody is going to have a chance to come into it.
Senator Ervin. Is it not an illustration of the old saying that one man's meat is another man's poison?
Governor CHAFEE. I suppose, except if you are on the poison end of things.
Senator ERVIN. Yes.
Governor CHAFEE. If you cannot get a place to live, and there is no question, and I cannot speak for the whole Nation--I am speaking for my State, and I believe what has taken place in my State is probably true throughout the Nation—people were unable to find adequate housing because of their color. That is what it came right down to.
Senator Ervin. Well, it gives some people the freedom to purchase or rent housing from unwilling owners, does it not?
Governor CHAFEE. That is right, although in many instances we find that the unwilling owners are assisted by this act in that pressure comes from—say you have a plat developer that builds 20 houses on a plat. He himself would be willing to sell to somebody, a house on the plat to a Negro family. But the local, the other, neighbors say, “Oh, you cannot do that." This act permit him to say, "Look, the law requires me to do it.” And when the house is sold to the Negro on the plat, life goes on quite evenly.
Senator Ervix. But I believe we do agree that, as far as a home is concerned, it does deprive the owner of the right that he would otherwise have; that is, the right to sell or to rent freely to persons of his choice?
Governor CHAFEE. I am sorry. You are saying it deprives him of a right?
Senator Ervin. It does deprive the owner, open occupancy does deprive the owner of the property, of his right to sell or rent freely to persons of his choice.
Governor CHAFEE. I will have to agree that there is. On the other hand, it gives a person on the other end of the scale, or somebody else, the right to acquire housing or to rent housing.
Senator Ervin. Well, we agree that it does effect curtailment of the right of private property?
Governor CHAFEE. Some part of it, yes.
Senator Ervin. I would have to infer from the Attorney General's testimony that the primary objective of this bill is to assist nonwhites in obtaining housing. What percentage of the population of Rhode Island is nonwhite?
Governor CHAFEE. In the whole State it is about 6 percent. Lower than that; I would say about 5 percent in the State, about 8 percent within the city of Providence.