Franklin D. Roosevelt

Appointment of a Committee to Investigate Discrimination in Railroad Employment

January 03, 1944

I have received from the Fair Employment Practice Committee certification that the Committee has reached an impasse with a number of railroads and railroad labor organizations in its effort to secure the removal of discriminations in certain fields of railroad employment. I am enclosing a copy of the letter to me from Chairman Malcolm Ross of the Fair Employment Practice Committee and also copies of pertinent documents in this case.

Obviously in such a complicated structure as the transportation industry, we cannot immediately attain perfect justice in terms of equal employment opportunities for all people. I am sure, however, that you agree with me that all Americans at this time should be anxious to see to it that no discriminations prevent the fullest use of our manpower in providing the strength essential to the major military offensives now planned. Indeed, hardly anything in America now seems so important as such a unity based upon justice as will make possible the best use of all our human resources in this year of supreme national effort.

The specific questions involved in the case certified to me by the Fair Employment Practice Committee relate only to discriminations against certain classes of Negro railroad employees in connection with which complaints were filed with the Committee. These employees are locomotive firemen, trainmen, switchmen, dining car and shop employees.

I believe it to be highly important in connection with this situation that a small committee of disinterested and distinguished citizens be appointed to discuss this matter as my representatives with the railroads and labor organizations. I am sure that agreements shaped in good sense and good will can be reached.

I am asking to serve on this committee yourself as Chairman, Mr. Frank J. Lausche, Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, and Judge William H. Holly of the United States District Court in Chicago.

I plan to call a meeting of this committee with representatives of carriers and labor organizations in Washington in the very near future. I am aware of the other public demands being made upon your time and energy today, but I trust I may have your acceptance of this most important public undertaking.

With kindest personal regards,

Franklin D. Roosevelt

[Judge Walter P. Stacy, Raleigh, North Carolina.]

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Appointment of a Committee to Investigate Discrimination in Railroad Employment Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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