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who become members are loyal citizens of the United States who believe in the Constitution of the United States. It is my opinion that that is a very serious error. I think that the one thing that binds us all together as Americans, regardless of what might be our political or religious or racial or social beliefs, is the belief that the Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land. That is what I think ought to be the test. So I agree that those who have done that-I am not prepared to say how many or whobut I would say those who have done that have made a very serious tactical error.
Mr. TUCK, Mr. McNamara.
Mr. McNAMARA. Mr. Mitchell, in your statement, in addition to mentioning the resolution opposing communism adopted by the NAACP in 1950, you referred to a civil rights mobilization which the NAACP had initiated at an earlier time and mentioned the fact that, in this instance, the NAACP had specifically rejected any Communist support on that. Could you give us further details about that?
Mr. MITCHELL. Yes, I could, Mr. McNamara. I have with me a Xeroxed copy of a news article which was published on December 1, 1949, which sets forth the position taken by Mr. Wilkins at the time when we were having in Washington a big mobilization for civil rights. We called in all possible religious, fraternal, labor, and other groups that would participate in that effort. But we had an ironclad rule that we didn't want anybody who was Communist affiliated or an out-and-out Communist connected with it. Needless to say, a lot of people attacked us for that position, but we held to it and this article delineates the position. With your permission, I would like to offer it as an exhibit.
Mr. Tuck. Without objection, and the Chair hears none, it may be made a part of the record.
(Document marked "Mitchell Exhibit No. 2" and retained in committee files.)
Mr. McNAMARA. For the record, Mr. Chairman, I think it might be of interest to summarize the incident. What happened was that William L. Patterson, who was the executive secretary of the Civil Rights Congress, an organization which has been cited as Communist and subversive by this committee, by the Attorney General, by the Subversive Activities Control Board, and the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, wrote to Mr. Roy Wilkins, who was then acting secretary of the NAACP, asking him why the Civil Rights Congress had not been invited to this mobilization.
Mr. Wilkins sent him a reply explaining why and he made public both Mr. Patterson's letter and his own reply. I think it is interesting to place in the record at this point one quotation from Mr. Wilkins' replythe organizations of the extreme left, when they campaign for civil rights, or in behalf of a minority, do so as a secondary consideration, activity upon which is certain to be weighted, shaped, angled, or abandoned in accordance with the Communist Party "line.” We can have no truck with such unity.
The Pilot, the official publication of the National Maritime Union, in commenting on this exchange of letters, stated, "the CommunistCoalition crowd has been totally dishonest with the Negro and other minority people.”
Mr. Mitchell, is it also true that subsequent to that period, in 1956, at the time of another civil rights mobilization here in Washington in which the NAACP had a very vital interest, your organization learned of stepped-up Communist efforts to infiltrate the civil rights movement and took steps to defeat that maneuver? Mr. MITCHELL. That is true, Mr. McNamara. We were having another mobilization here of the organizations that customarily work with us on civil rights matters. R Mr. McNAMARA. This was the Leadership Conference on Civil ights? Mr. Mrtchell. That is what it was called. Mr. Wilkins serves as the chairman of that. It is a nonpaid position, but he is the chairman of that group which is a combination of a number of organizations. At that time we not only made a declaration against Communist participation, but we had a rather effective screening system which was most efficient in keeping out those who tried to force their way in. Some went to rather imaginative lengths to try to get in. For example, there was one group that came down from New York and gave out a large number of NAACP membership cards that apparently they had printed on some kind of clandestine press. But, in any event, they were turned down when they o themselves, and we were able to keep them out. Mr. McNAMARA. It is my recollection, Mr. Mitchell, that at that time Mr. Wilkins sent a notice to the 1300 branches and youth councils of the NAACP pointing out this Communist effort and warning of the damage that would be done to the civil rights movement if it is successful. Is that correct? Mr. MITCHELL. That is correct. Mr. McNAMARA. Mr. Mitchell, I have a few stickers here, approximately 2 by 4 inches in size. I would like to hand these to you and ask you to identify these and tell us about their origin. Mr. MITCHELL. Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, when you are confronted with a crisis such as we are confronted with in this country on racial violence, men of good will or women of good will try very hard to find ways of doing all they can to head it off. Mr. Wilkins in his way undertook to do that. He got out a memorandum which was sent to all of our branches on June 15, 1967, in which he tried to spell out specific things that local branches might do with the hope of trying to head off violence in their communities. One of the things that appeared at the bottom of that was the slogan “KEEP COOL, Let the Other Guy BLOW HIS TOP.” That is reproduced in this little card here. Another was “THE OTHER SIDE wiss IF WE LOSE OUR COOL.” That is reproduced on this card. The third was, “BRICKS THROUGH WINDOWS DON'T OPEN DOORS,” and that is this little exhibit. (Stickers marked “Mitchell Exhibit No. 3” and retained in committee files.) Mr. MITCHELL. In addition he followed that o with a telegram dated July 25, which went out to 450 of our key branches in urban areas, reminding them of his admonition of June 15 and also urging them to step up their effort to try to prevent trouble.
With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I would like to offer the memorandum for the record and return to the staff director the exhibits which he handed me. Mr. TUCK. Without objection, and the Chair hears none, the statement will be incorporated in the evidence offered by the witness. (Document marked “Mitchell Exhibit No. 4” and retained in committee files.) Mr. McNAMARA. Mr. Mitchell, these stickers you refer to bear the imprint of the N.A.ACl’; is that correct? Mr. MITCH joi.I.. That is correct. Mr. McNAMARA. The N.A.AC 1’ has furthered and promoted their distribution and use throughout the Nation; is that correct : Mr. MITCHELL. That is correct, Mr. McNamara. Mr. McNAMARA. Mr. Mitchell, you have been active for a good many years in the civil rights movement. We have, I think, seen a new phenomenon in this area. That is the sudden rise to nationai and even international prominence of some self-proclaimed civil rights leaders, people whose accomplishments in the field are actually nil. But almost overnight they !. gone from obscurity, from being unknowns, into the spotlight of national attention. Would you care to comment on this development : Mr. MITCHELL. I would, Mr. McNamara, because I would like the country to realize that the precious right of a free press, free communications media, has to be safeguarded by people who recognize their responsibility in handling the news with the proper perspective. It is my opinion that a great deal of the turmoil in this country is fomented by the playing up of those who are willing to say anything that is irresponsible for the purpose of getting on television or getting into the papers. I think, too, that the press has a great responsibility to explore these matters before they are given wide distribution. For example, a couple of weeks ago I was on a plane coming from New York and picked up a copy of Time magazine that said the Negroes of this country have become so enchanted with the idea of black power that they are even starting black fraternities. They mentioned one of them, î. Omega Si Phi fraternity. It just happens that fraternity was started back in 1911 by Bishop Edgar Love of the Methodist Church, and I am sure that its founders had no remote notion about black power or any other kind of ideology at the time. They were doing what most fraternities are organized to do, and that is have a good social time. I think that the responsible publications ought to be very careful in making sure that before they say a thing like that, they check it Out. Another young lady called me from a very reputable magazine and asked whether I could help her find a Negro who was a college graduate, who was disillusioned by the war in Vietnam, disillusioned about our domestic policy, and therefore had decided to become a sniper. She was from a reputable magazine. She said she had been assigned to do this for a Christmas story. It was a lady's magazine. I tried to explain to her that that kind of person probably did not exist. I offered, if she wanted me to get a balanced and true picture of what Negroes are thinking these days, to try to help her find a cross
section. She said no, she had her assignment and she had to keep looking for that particular kind of Negro.
Well, this runs through most of the media. I do hope that those who are in positions of responsibility take a second look at some of the things that they are doing in the way of promoting irresponsible people to prominence.
Mr. JcNAVARA. The staff has no further questions, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Tuck. The gentleman from South Carolina.
Vir. IWATSOX. Mr. Chairman, we want to thank the witness for his very helpful testimony. I would just ask one or two questions.
Of course, you are a ware of the fact that the Communist Party in their last meeting, which was public, said that the two major objectives That they have are to move into youth groups and into civil rights groups. You are aware of that, are you not?
Dr. VIITCHELL. I am not aware that they made that statement recently, Jir. Watson, but I am sure they have been making that for a long time. I am not surprised to find that they have now announced it again.
Mr. Watson. So, consequently, it would be expected that this group of sympathizers would try to move into the civil rights field, and you and your organization would be on your guard to try to prevent it as much as possible.
Mr. MITCHELL. Yes, we would not need to wait for newspaper warning. We're always on a 24-hour alert on things of that sort.
VIr. Watson. Following that question, if there be such infiltration into your organization by the Communists and Communist-front groups, then would it naturally follow that you would want this committee or any other responsible committee or organization to identify such Communists or Communist sympathizers if they have infiltrated into your organization?
Mr. MITCHELL. Well, Mr. Watson, I think I understand what you are getting at.
Mr. Watson. It is a direct question. I assure you I have no tricks in this at all.
Mr. MITCHELL. I would like to respond in as gracious a manner as you have asked the question, but one of the things that we have always felt is that if, in our organization, we are asking for due process and if we are advocating adherence to the orderly determination of guilt or innocence, then we have to practice that ourselves. So for our part we would
not look to any other source for information on who is or who is not a Communist. We would wish to establish our own orderly procedures. We would want to be sure that such persons had a day in court and we would want to be the people who are responsible for ousting them and identifying them if that be necessary.
I do not think that we would want to, and I am saying this very respectfully, I do not think that we would want a committee of Congress, the Attorney General of the United States, or a court to block out for us what is a Communist, who is a Communist, and that kind of thing. I think, because we are people with some knowledge and some sophistication, we would want to make that determination ourselves.
Vr. WATSON. Mr. Mitchell, I agree with you. I think the basic purpose of identification by whatever source would be to give you the op
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portunity to do exactly what you said you wanted to do and that is to expel these members from your organization.
I believe there would perhaps be some valuable help to be given to you from the Subversive Activities Control Board, this committee here, and the Department of Justice because, regardless of how fine an organization you may have, I dare say that there are sources at our disposal that you would not have at your disposal. At least I was hopeful that you might welcome the help and the assistance of this committee in identifying any possible Communist sympathizers or actual Communist activists in your organization.
Mr. MITCHELL. Mr. Watson, I am sure, as a lawyer, you would not value documentary evidence as much as you would the direct testimony of people and evidence that you could obtain on a firsthand basis yourself. We adhere to that rule in our organization, that no matter what a newspaper might say or what a Government reporter might say, we would want to give the accused or the party charged his day in court and before what would be equivalent of a jury of his peers, for the purpose of deciding from our own knowledge whether he is or is not a Communist.
Mr. Watson. I might say, and I am not going to prolong this particular line of questioning, but I am sure you will concede that this committee and other agencies would act responsibly in this fashion before any organization or any individual would be placed on a subversive list. I hope you appreciate that fact.
Mr. MITCHELL. Well, we always hope that all agencies of Government will act with responsibility. I do believe, though, in the separation of powers. I do believe that in the Congress you can engage in factfinding and come out maybe right on the mark. But I do believe that the function of making a determination of guilt or innocence is really a function of the judiciary. Even with the best of intention on the part of the executive branch and all these others, I think that the final determination ought to be in the hands of the judiciary. This is a hard decision for me personally because I know of my own knowledge that the Government of the United States has information on who is guilty in some of the more terrible murders that have taken place in the areas of civil rights. The Government, for example, knows who killed Medgar Evers. The Government knows who is responsible for the bombings and the dynamitings in the South that have resulted in the murder of people. But for various reasons those in charge of prosecution have not submitted that evidence to the grand jury and to the courts.
Now all of my instincts tell me I wish we would have some way through a committee of Congress or through the executive branch to bring these culprits to justice. But then I know that, under our system, untis they are brought into court they really are presumed to be innocent.
Mr. Watson. And the statement that you have just made contradicts your earlier position that you think that the court should make such determination of a person's Communist affiliation, because you have just apparently expressed a complete lack of confidence in the judicial system in some areas of this country.
Mr. MITCHELL. I haven't expressed, that I am aware of, any lack of confidence in the judicial system. I have said that under the Constitu