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Mr. Tuck. Will you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to gire before this committee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Jr. MITCHELL. I do.
TESTIMONY OF CLARENCE MITCHELL
Mr. VIITCHELL. Governor Tuck and Members of the Committee: In preparation of my testimony I had assumed that the chairman, Mr. Willis, would be here and I have included in it a little reference to him, which I will read, because I want very much to be on record as saving it.
Mr. McNAMARA. Mr. Mitchell, before you proceed with your statement, would you kindly state your name and address for the record, please?
Mr. MITCHELL. My name is Clarence Mitchell. I am director of the Washington Bureau of the NAACP. Our office is in the Congressional Building, 422 First Street, Southeast.
Mr. McNAMARA. Mr. Mitchell, is your appearance before the committee today in response to an invitation and request of the chairman to Roy Wilkins, executive secretary of the NAACP, that he or another representative of that organization testify in the committee's hearings?
Mr. MITCHELL. That is correct.
Mr. McNAMARA. Can you tell us, Mr. Mitchell, how long you have held the position of the director of the Washington Bureau of the NAACP?
Mr. MITCHELL. I have been director of the bureau since 1950. I began my duties with the organization in 1945, when I was labor secretary.
Mr. McNAMARA. In addition to your work with the NAACP, have you from time to time been engaged in service with the Federal Government?
Mr. MITCHELL. I have from time to time given volunteer service in the areas of employment, housing, educational matters, and things of that sort.
Mr. McNAMARA. I understand, Mr. Mitchell, that you have a prepared statement to read for the record.
Mr. MITCHELL. Yes, I do, Mr. McNamara.
Mr. Tuck. I may say to the witness that the chairman, Mr. Willis, would have liked to have been here today. We do expect him here next week.
I may further add that he expressed himself on many occasions as being highly pleased with your cooperation with him and your willingness to appear before the committee and give us the benefit of your testimony.
Mr. MITCHELL. Thank you very much, Governor Tuck.
As I stated, I am Clarence Mitchell, director of the Washington Bureau of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. I want to thank you very much for this opportunity to appear and to present testimony at this hearing.
At the outset I would like to o appreciation to Chairman Willis for his courageous challenge of the Ku Klux Klan. The terrible implications of Klan activity were emphasized in recent days during the trial of individuals for murder of three civil rights workers in Mississippi. I would just like to say for the record that if we are to stamp out lawlessness in this country, the people themselves must show concern. We need just laws, we need prosecutors and courts that are above corruption, but in the end we also need determination by the people themselves that they will uphold the law. I would like to use this forum, Mr. Chairman, to salute the people of Mississippi who served on the jury in that case to which you referred. I do not know a thing about their views on civil rights, segregation, and whatever else might be their o: But I would say that it is a great thing in our country when o e who are entrusted with the duty of seeing to it that the law is upheld fulfill that duty. It is my opinion that to the best of their ability they did that. This is what I mean when I say, in the end, if the people do not uphold the law we cannot have law. If they do, the law will prevail. As I understand it, the committee is addressing itself to two questions. These were set forth in the chairman's letter of October 11, 1967. First, whether rioting, looting, and burning are compatible with the American system of government and whether it will serve to advance the interests of Negro citizens in the United States. The second question, whether or not Communists sincerely have the interests of Negroes at heart and Negroes, therefore, can accept them and work with them in their efforts to achieve full equality in this Country. §onals of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, as an organization and myself as an individual I answer both if these questions with an emphatic “No.” With reference to question number one, I would like to point out that throughout its long history the NAACP has always been against lynching, mob violence, and the destruction of property. I might say I have strong personal views about that, too. Right after I finished college in 1932, I was assigned to cover a lynching as a newspaper reporter. I was against mob violence then when I saw it and o against it now, regardless of who is the perpetrator of mob violence. We are opposed to lawlessness and have spent most of our existence, as well as most of our funds, trying to build a society in which this idea will prevail, of law and order. We also seek just laws, which in themselves promote peace and tranquility by strenthening the faith in the Constitution of the United States as a means of obtaining redress for grievances. We are aware of the underlying causes that promote discontent in this country. The fact that unemployment is higher among minority groups, that many must live in ghetto areas because of restrictions on housing, and a century of mistreatment, all combine to build frustrations and desperation. I might say, Governor Tuck and Members of the Committee, that it is a fact that the rate of unemployment among Negroes in this country is about three times the rate of unemployment among white people. We have problems which stem from not getting the right kind of educational training. I was in Meridian this weekend and had the pleasure of seeing a private school which some people have started down there for the purpose of training young women to be secretarial workers. They were taking them through all the things you need to know in order to be a good secretary. But the persons in charge of that school pointed out that all too often, even though the applicants and the trainees have completed high school in the regular public school system of that area, they really have only the equivalent of an eighth grade education, which means that there are serious deficiences in English and in other things that would be needed in order to be ready to go into the mainstream of life in this country. Mr. ICHORD. Mr. Chairman, if I may interrupt there. Your figures there, Mr. Mitchell, include #. Negro males and females. I am certain that that is true. I wanted to ask you this question. I was rather surprised to notice a headline in one of our metropolitan papers a number of days ago—I did not read the entire article. The gist of the headlines, anyway, was that the unemployment figures of Negro males was less than whites. Are you acquainted with lo, article? I was rather surprised to hear that such a thing would true. Mr. MITCHELL. I did not see that, Mr. Ichord, but I would say it is a very unusual thing if it is true. I can't imagine any area in this country Mr. ICHORD. The statistics were undoubtedly limited to a specific area. I did not have an opportunity to read the article in full. I thought you might be acquainted with it. Mr. MITCHELL. I am sorry, I didn't see it. Mr. Ichord. Go ahead. Mr. MITCHELL. Under the leadership of President Lyndon B. Johnson, the Nation is engaged in a great struggle to right some of the wrongs which I have mentioned. The positive things that are being done, such as encouraging Federal aid to education, promoting better health, insuring equal job opportunity, and strengthening civil rights legislation, are all a part of the Nation's effort to keep our pledge of equality, under law. I just would like to say, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, that I can't emphasize too much the belief that I have that, if we could pay a little more attention to some of the direction that the President is trying to give in handling some of these problems in our country, I think we would have a few more solutions than we now get. For example, there is no doubt in my mind that the rent supplement program is a very valuable thing in these ghetto areas of the country. The President asked for $40 million for that. The committee in the House cut him back to $10 million. Then when we got to the floor, it did not get through at all. On the other hand, there are some people who are attacking the President and saying why doesn't he do something about housing, why doesn't he do something about these problems in the cities? Well, I think the best way to find out the effectiveness of the President's program is to try to give him the things that he is asking for, see whether these work, and then if somebody has a better idea on how it might be improved, I would be all for it and I guess the President would be, too. 13ut if he can't get what he is asking for, which is really modest, I think that it is kind of idle to speculate on what we might do if we had a whole lot more. Although a great deal has been accomplished, we are all aware of the need to move further and faster. Yet I do not share the views of those who seem to think that rioting, looting, and burning are actions of the mass of discontented colored people in this country. It is my opinion that it is an insult to the millions of law-abiding colored people to align them with the terrible destruction and violence that we have witnessed in some of our cities. I think I am voicing the sentiment of the great number of people in NAACP when I say that, because riots in Newark broke out when we were in our convention in Boston. We passed a resolution, an emergency resolution, and the gist of that resolution was that while there are problems we do not condone violence, we are opposed to it, and with your permission, Mr. Chairman, I would like to offer for the record an excerpt from that resolution. Mr. TUCK. That may be done. (Document marked “Mitchell Exhibit No. 1" follows:)
MITCHELL EXHIBIT NO. 1
This convention of the NAACP can understand, but not condone, quick violence which occurs to express mass resentment over a particular outrage. We cannot understand nor do we in any way condone prolonged and seemingly stimulated riotous destruction of life and property extending over days and nights and spreading, apparently under plan, to persons and places not involved in any specific occurrence. * + * * * - *
We call upon all law-abiding citizens of both races to act promptly and sternly to put down such violence. Any indulgence of this destruction of life and property under the color of frustration over items that warrant more than routine attention, but do not warrant rioting, will be but an encouragement to an anarchy in which the whole society loses.
There must be a rooting out of evils in race relations and a thorough redress of legitimate grievances, but insurrection cannot be tolerated as the instrument for the attainment of these goals.
(At this point Mr. Culver and Mr. Ashbrook left the hearing room.)
Mr. MITCHELL. I have no firsthand knowledge of who it is that lights the fires, who throws the bricks, or who engages in sniping, but I do know that those responsible for these crimes are only a minuscule part of the total population. It is my opinion that the vast majority of colored people in this country seek to settle their grievances and to achieve their objectives just as all other Americans, through the lawful channels of the land.
With regard to question number two, it should be mentioned that long before many organizations were conscious of the problem of Communist infiltration, the NAACP instinctively avoided such contacts. We have always believed that the colored citizens of the United States are an inseparable part of the Nation. We never have, and do not now, believe that foreign intervention of any kind can settle our problems. We do believe that application of the principles of the Constitution of the United States will lead to freedom and progress. On June 23, 1950, the 41st Convention of the NAACP meeting in Boston passed a resolution “unequivocally condemning attacks by the Communists and their fellow travelers upon the Association and its officials.” The convention also authorized the board of directors to “suspend, reorganize, lift the charter or expel any unit if it became infiltrated or dominated by Communists.” This resolution has been reaffirmed in all Subsequent conventions. I might say that, even before that resolution, in 1949 Mr. Roy Wilkins, the executive director of our organization, made a similar pronouncement about participation of Communist groups in a big mobilization that we were having down here for civil rights. We have been and are equally opposed to organizations that operate on the extreme right, as well as the extreme left. Although our organization has taken an official position on communism, it is my opinion that the great majority of colored Americans did not need any reminder from us on this subject. The hopes and aspirations of these citizens are the same as those of other Americans. We cherish freedom of speech, freedom of worship, the right to vote, and the right to be secure against oppression by tyrranical government. It is my opinion that the Communists have never made any great headway in recruiting colored followers and they do not have any substantial following at this point. I believe that one of the surest ways to reveal the weakness of communism is to make our own system of government work for the benefit of the most humble as well as the greatest of our citizens. This is the objective of the NAACP, and I believe that we will reach that goal within our lifetime. Mr. TUCK. Do you have any questions, Mr. Ichord? Mr. ICHORD. Yes, Mr. Chairman. I think Mr. Mitchell has made a very significant observation of the policy of the NAACP in regard to its refusal to work with the Communists. I observe that many organizations that truly started out as pacifist organizations have made a very serious mistake. As a matter of fact a few such members have testified before this committee that they will accept anyone regardless of his political convictions as long as he |. to be working for peace. Many truly pacifist organizations ave gotten into some very serious trouble. Of course, you have indicated it is going to be very difficult, maybe some of your more militant civil rights organizations have also made the same mistakes by thinking that they can work with Communists who are not truly interested in the cause of civil rights, but to tear down and destroy our institutions and our Nation. Mr. MITCHELL, I would say, Mr. Ichord, first that I am very careful to define our philosophical position when I answer a question like that. We do not concede that any other civil rights organization is more militant than we are in what we are trying to do. Mr. ICHORD. I agree with you. Mr. MITCHELL. We feel that the word “militant” is the wrong word in some of these organizations. You might call them reckless and irresponsible, but certainly not militant. Now I think that there are some which are not as scrupulous as we are in trying to make sure that those