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We are appearing here in support of Senate bill 1365, known as the Kefauver bill.
The Cooks, Pastry Cooks, and Kitchen Employees, Local 209, since its inception in 1942 has actively participated in most of the campaigns in the city for both home rule and national representation, and testified at congressional hearings in support of suffrage. We have always pointed out that the denial of suffrage to the citizens of Washington is responsible for the inefficiency of the present government. It is only by having officials responsible to the will of the people that we can have an efficient government.
This analysis was stated very eloquently by the Honorable Senator Morse on May 12, 1949, in his argument against the sales tax. I quote the Congressional Record :
We talk about discrimination in this country based upon race, color, and creed. We ought to be talking about civil rights in regard to the right of the citizens of the District of Columbia to vote. We are denying them what I think is a precious civil right because of the discriminatory policy which the Congress of the United States has held toward them. In the last analysis the Congress is the city Council of the District of Columbia. But we happen to be in the position of a city council that cannot be held to responsibility by the citizens for whom it acts, because we have not had the courage and the foresight and the statesmanship in the years gone by to give to the citizens of the District of Columbia the elective franchise which every American ought to enjoy.
The Senator further stated:
So I close this point by saying that to me the $64 answer to the $64 question in this debate is, what would the residents of the District of Columbia do with this proposal if we should let them exercise the referendum? It's unquestionable they would vote “no” by an overwhelming majority. In my State this type of taxation has been tried four times and the people of my State defeated it the last time three to one; if it is tried again, we will defeat it again.
This is even more clearly observed by the absence of actions for the general welfare of the people by the Board of Commissioners and the conditions that exist in our city. We recall the sad record of the Commissioners in dealing with the strike against the hotels in 1946. This is what the Washington Post said editorially about their proposals:
The Commissioners were coming to the rescue. And who was to be rescued? Why the hotel association, not the 5,000 workers on strike with public support.
No action has been taken on very pertinent and important issues which have repeatedly been brought to the attention of the Board of Commissioners by delegations of citizens, press, radio, and other methods of public expression.
Among conditions that need immediate correction which have been ignored by the Commissioners are the high cost of living, labor problems, slum clearance, and general health. The abolition of segregation and discrimination in the supposedly world arsenal of democracy is not the concern of the Commissioners, yet segregation subjugates and relegates one-third of the city's population to secondclass citizenship. This is not only a local disgrace, but national and international travesty on justice. Not only have the Commissioners not done anything about these conditions, but in my opinion they bear a heavy share of responsibility for the maintenance of segregation in the city. The representative of the Board of Commissioners on the Board of Recreation has voted consistently for maintaining segregation. The Metropolitan Police Department, which is under the Commissioners has arrested primarily Negroes and their white friends who sought to use the pools, and left the provokers of strife at the pools untouched.
The District Commissioners were very instrumental in the fight for-not against, mind you—the sales tax, and are now crying to us taxpayers and citizens come August 1: This sales tax will be good for you. Just swallow it. I say to you categorically: There are countless persons who are not going to like the taste of that medicine, because a large portion of the people, not only those whom I represent, are people whose salaries are in the low brackets and cannot afford extra pennies for the sales tax.
The utilities in the District always have the support of the Commissioners, as seen in the past increases in fares granted to the Capital Transit Co.
I could go on and cite the mismanagement by the Board of Commissioners, their ruling this city without heeding the voice of the common people. These points have been made repeatedly in the almost yearly hearings held on suffrage. Everything is known as to why the citizens of Washington should be given the basic American right to vote. I therefore will not go on citing the facts. They are known by this committee. I only want to state as emphatically as I can: Washington needs suffrage. Congress ought to give us the right to vote. I want to urge the committee to report out to the House of Representatives the bill passed by the Senate, S. 1365, which will grant us the right to vote.
This session of Congress has an opportunity to correct a longstanding injustice and we strongly urge you: Restore to the citizens of Washington the vote. The time for action is now. We feel that suffrage is something that is long overdue.
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you.
We also have Mr. Harry N. Peterson of the Public Library. Do you care to make a statement?
Mr. PETERSON. Mr. Chairman, I am from the Public Library and I should appreciate it if you would schedule me for another public hearing, in that I am speaking for the Board of Trustees.
Mr. HARRIS. How long would it take?
We have one witness left, Mrs. Samuel B. Brown, of the Washingtion section, National Council of Jewish Women. Is Mrs. Brown present?
Mrs. ZESKING. Mr. Chairman, I would like to present a statement of Mrs. Brown.
Mr. HARRIS. You are appearing for Mrs. Brown?
Mr. HARRIS. You are appearing for her and submitting her statement in her behalf?
Mrs. ZESKING. No; she just asked me to submit the statement.
STATEMENT OF MRS. SAMUEL B. BROWN, WASHINGTON
SECTION, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF JEWISH WOMEN Mrs. Brown. The Washington section, National Council of Jewish Women, wish to testify in favor of S. 1527, the District of Columbia charter bill. Our local membership totals almost 1,000 women. Nationally we have approximately 20,000 members, with sections in all parts of the country.
The National Council of Jewish Women has supported home rule for the District of Columbia for many years. Our national office feels that this problem affects not only the citizens of the District, but also citizens everywhere in the country. They have so stated in testimony before the congressional committee considering home rule
We feel that S. 1527 handles the issue of home rule for the District very satisfactorily and merits the support of people everywhere. We urge this committee to act favorably on this legislation, so that it will have the opportunity of being voted on in this session of Congress.
Mr. HARRIS. That will, then, conclude all the appearances of witnesses scheduled, with the exception of Mr. Peterson of the Public Library.
The committee will stand adjourned until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning. May I express the hope that we can conclude these hearings? However, we want to give everyone an opportunity to be heard, and want whatever information and views they may have on this subject.
The committee will stand adjourned until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning.
(Thereupon the committee adjourned, to meet on Friday, July 15, 1949, at 10 a. m.)
HOME RULE AND REORGANIZATION IN THE DISTRICT
FRIDAY, JULY 15, 1949
JUDICIARY SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE
Washington, D. C. The Judiciary Subcommittee of the Committee on the District of Columbia met in the committee room, 445 Old House Office Building, at 10 a. m., Hon. Oren Harris (subcommittee chairman) presiding.
Other subcommittee members present were: Hon. Thomas G. Abernethy, Hon. Olin E. Teague, Hon. James C. Auchincloss, Hon. John J. Allen, Jr., of California. Hon. John L. McMillan, chairman of the full committee, was also present.
Also present were: Harry N. Peterson, Board of Trustees, Public Library; Lloyd N. Cutler, Washington Home Rule Committee; T. S. Šettle, National Capital Park and Planning Commission; C. F Preller, Washington Central Labor Union; Paul Matthews, Junior Chamber of Commerce; Jock Dolton, Amalgamated Casualty Insurance Co.; Morton Liftin, District of Columbia Industrial Union Council, CIO; Vincent J. Browne, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Elmer E. Batzell, McArthur Boulevard Citizens Association; Maynard B. DeWitt, American Veterans Committee; and others.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. We will first hear from Mr. Harry N. Peterson, of the Public Library.
STATEMENT OF HARRY N. PETERSON, CHIEF LIBRARIAN, PUBLIC
LIBRARY, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Mr. PETERSON. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I am Harry N. Peterson, Chief Librarian, Public Library of the District of Columbia.
I should like to express my appreciation to the committee for this. opportunity to appear on this occasion.
Mr. Albert W. Atwood, President of the Board of Library Trustees, had hoped to be here, but business called him out of town and he designated Mr. Hartson, of the firm of Hogan & Hartson, to be his substitute. However, when it was discovered only one person could appear for the Library, Mr. Hartson thought it would be well for me to make the presentation. I should like at this time, with the approval of the chairman, to put in the record the statement prepared by Mr. Atwood and by me, calling particular attention to exhibits A and B of my statement which support the text.