1947 October 29

“To Secure These Rights”: Truman’s Civil Rights Committee’s Report Released


President Harry Truman’s Civil Rights Committee, created on December 5, 1946, was the first presidential committee or commission on civil rights. The commission’s report, To Secure These Rights, released on this day, was an historic event. The report identified race discrimination in virtually every area of American life — education, employment, voting, military service, and so on — and its recommendations charted the course of the civil rights movement for the next 20 years.

Truman followed up by sending Congress the first civil rights legislative program in the twentieth century on February 2, 1948. Congress, dominated by conservatives, refused to act on it. Truman then took the bold step of desegregating the U.S. armed forces by executive order on July 26, 1948. Although his actions were overshadowed by the subsequent events of the civil rights movement, Truman was the first civil rights president in modern times.

The report: “This concept of equality which is so vital a part of the American heritage knows no kinship with notions of human uniformity or regimentation. We abhor the totalitarian arrogance which makes one man say that he will respect another man as his equal only if he has ‘my race, my religion, my political views, my social position.’ In our land men are equal, but they are free to be different. From these very differences among our people has come the great human and national strength of America.”

Read the entire historic report: http://www.trumanlibrary.org/civilrights/srights1.htm

Read: Steven F. Lawson, To Secure These Rights: The Report of Harry S Truman’s Committee on Civil Rights (2004)

Learn more: Michael Gardner, Harry Truman and Civil Rights: Moral Courage and Political Risks (2002)

Learn more about President Truman and civil rights at the Truman Libraryhttp://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/desegregation/large/index.php

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