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Letter to the Speaker of the House Urging Enactment of the Fair Housing Bill.

April 05, 1968

Dear Mr. Speaker:

Two years ago I asked the Congress to guarantee a basic American right--the right of a man to secure a home for his family regardless of the color of his skin.

The House of Representatives passed such a law, but it died in the Senate.

Last year, I again submitted Fair Housing legislation. This legislation languished in Committee.

This year, I once again appealed to the Congress to confirm this fundamental of human dignity. The signs, at long last, were hopeful. The Senate passed a Fair Housing law last month. On March 11, I wrote to you urging you to pass the Senate bill. But since then, this urgent legislation has been blocked in the House.

Last night America was shocked by a senseless act of violence. A man who devoted his life to the nonviolent achievement of rights that most Americans take for granted was killed by an assassin's bullet.

This tragedy has caused all good men to look deeply into their hearts. When the Nation so urgently needs the healing balm of unity, a brutal wound on our conscience forces upon us all this question: What more can I do to achieve brotherhood and equality among all Americans?

There are many actions the Congress can take, on its part. The most immediate is to enact legislation so long delayed and so close to fulfillment.

We should pass the Fair Housing law when the Congress convenes next week.

Mr. Speaker, I urge the members of the House of Representatives to rise to this challenge. In your hands lies the power to renew for all Americans the great promise of opportunity and justice under law.

I ask you to bring this bill to a vote in the House of Representatives at the earliest possible moment.

The time for action is now.



[Honorable John W. McCormack, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.]

Note: The fair housing bill was enacted as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (82 Stat. 81). For the President's remarks upon signing that measure see Item 195.

The text of the letter was given to newsmen by the White House Press Office but was not made public in the form of a press release.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter to the Speaker of the House Urging Enactment of the Fair Housing Bill. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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