APRIL 27, 1957
NEW YORK—It is a relief to know that Attorney General Herbert Brownell Jr. actually and finally has asked Congress to pass the civil rights bills.
I am not familiar enough with these bills to know whether or not they give Mr. Brownell the jurisdiction he thinks he needs to deal with such shocking cases as he mentioned.
But if they do, we may hope to see our Justice Department moving to prevent the shame which such incidents have brought on our entire country. They have particularly brought shame on our system of states' rights which makes it possible for a state to violate all concepts of justice and decency and still avoid interference by the Federal government.
I have been reading a book called "Go South for Sorrow," by Carl T. Rowan. I am only half way through it, but it has forced me to review what has happened in the South since the Supreme Court decision against segregation in the schools.
It is nearly three years since the day in May when we held our heads a little higher because the highest court in the land removed from the lives of all our children the degradation of discrimination. And the history of our country in these years is an appalling record of lawlessness, of contempt for our Supreme Court and those who sit on it.
In areas of the South and in the Senate of the United States we have accepted the leadership of a man like Senator James O. Eastland. As I read the quotes from his speeches in Congress, I could hardly believe that our country would allow such a man to lead and that our people would allow themselves to be guided by such ideas and such untruths.
I love my country and I want to be very proud of it, and in my ancestry I have both Southern and Northern blood. I cannot disassociate myself from the things that are done by American citizens, no matter what part of the country they come from.
I think the time has come for all citizens who have convictions to speak out and be counted on the side of law and decency.
In reviewing the history of these past years since May, 1954, I am beginning to understand more clearly why so many in the world doubt our leadership.
We talk of brotherhood; we say that democracy means an appreciation of the importance of the human personality and of the rights of individual human beings; we say that democracy is inspired by Christianity as exemplified in the teachings of Christ.
Then we allow people such as Senator Eastland to quote the Bible and the life of Christ as justification for doctrines entirely opposed to the whole spirit of Christianity, or ethics, or human brotherhood.
I shall force myself to read every word of Mr. Rowan's book. I do not have to go South for Sorrow. I sorrow here for the shame of these past three years.