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Dwight Eisenhower on Civil Rights

 


1953: eliminate discrimination in government contracting

Since 1953 our Vice President had served as Chairman of a committee which sought to eliminate discrimination on the basis of race or color in the employment practices of government contractors. In addition, he regularly attended all meetings of the Cabinet, the National Security Council, and the legislative leaders. He had been a troubleshooter in politics and in civil rights, and he had a special talent for understanding and summing up the views of others.
Source: Waging Peace, by Pres. Dwight Eisenhower, p. 7 , Jan 1, 1965

Desegregate federal government and nation's capital

Since my boyhood I had accepted without qualification the right to equality before the law of all citizens of this country, whatever their race or color or creed. In WWII I had affirmed my belief in this principle through orders desegregating many Red Cross clubs, while, during some stages of the fighting, I had sent into previous all-white units Negro replacements who not only fought well but also encountered little or no resentment from their comrades.

In my first State of the Union message, in 1953, I had affirmed my loyalty to this principle once again. I followed that affirmation by ordering in some cases and encouraging in others certain specific acts of desegregation within the federal government and within the nation's capital-- a city which I hoped could become a showplace of peaceful civil rights progress. In that year segregation ended in the District of Columbia's hotels, restaurants, motion picture theaters, and Capital Housing Authority projects.

Source: Waging Peace, by Pres. Dwight Eisenhower, p.148 , Jan 1, 1965

Signed 1957 Civil Rights Act, including Negro voting rights

On the Senate side the next day, Strom Thurmond of South Carolina made a one-man stand against the bill, speaking 24 hours and 18 minutes in an effort to get his views across. By 12 minutes past 9 on the evening of August 29, he had broken an old record set in April 1953, when for 22 hours and 26 minutes a senator had held the floor. Thurmond collapsed. The Senate adopted the compromise, 60 to 15. I signed it into law on September 9.
    As passed, the Civil Rights Act of 1957:
  1. created, with a 2-year life, the 6-member Civil Rights Commission;
  2. set up a Civil Rights Division in the Justice Department;
  3. extended the jurisdiction of the district courts to include any civil action begun to secure relief under any act of Congress providing for the protection of civil rights, including the right to vote.
Source: Waging Peace, by Pres. Dwight Eisenhower, p.161 , Jan 1, 1965

Create civil rights division in the Department of Justice

We have much reason to be proud of the progress our people are making in mutual understanding--the chief buttress of human and civil rights. Steadily we are moving closer to the goal of fair & equal treatment of citizens without regard to race or color. But unhappily much remains to be done. Last year the Administration recommended to the Congress a four-point program to reinforce civil rights. That program included:
  1. creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate asserted violations of civil rights and to make recommendations;
  2. creation of a civil rights division in the Department of Justice in charge of an Assistant Attorney General;
  3. enactment by the Congress of new laws to aid in the enforcement of voting rights; and
  4. amendment of the laws so as to permit the Federal Government to seek from the civil courts preventive relief in civil rights cases.
Source: Pres. Eisenhower's 1957 State of the Union message , Jan 10, 1957

Segregation in federal activities is on the way out

During the year, creation of the new Cabinet Department of Health, Education, and Welfare symbolized the government's permanent concern with the human problems of our citizens.

Segregation in the armed forces and other Federal activities is on the way out. We have also made progress toward its elimination in the District of Columbia. These are steps in the continuing effort to eliminate inter-racial difficulty.

Source: Pres. Eisenhower's 1954 State of the Union message , Jan 7, 1954

Segregation in federal activities is on the way out

During the year, creation of the new Cabinet Department of Health, Education, and Welfare symbolized the government's permanent concern with the human problems of our citizens.

Segregation in the armed forces and other Federal activities is on the way out. We have also made progress toward its elimination in the District of Columbia. These are steps in the continuing effort to eliminate inter-racial difficulty.

Source: Pres. Eisenhower's 1954 State of the Union message , Jan 7, 1954

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Other past presidents on Civil Rights: Dwight Eisenhower on other issues:
Former Presidents:
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole
V.P.Walter Mondale

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Page last updated: Mar 16, 2014