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Letter to the Speaker of the House Urging Prompt Action on the Civil Rights Bill.

March 12, 1968

[Released March 12, 1968. Dated March 11, 1968]

Dear Mr. Speaker:

Today--by a vote of 71 to 20---the Senate took an historic step toward strengthening human rights in America.

Two years ago the House by a 259 to 157 vote on final passage sent to the Senate a civil rights measure which contained a fair housing provision.

Several provisions of the Senate bill will be familiar to the Members of the House-particularly the fair housing section, the title that gives new protection to persons exercising their individual rights, and provisions affecting those who contribute to civil disorder.

The fate of this bill now rests with the House of Representatives.

I deeply believe, Mr. Speaker, that passage of this legislation is more important today than ever before.

Prompt action by the House on this bill will be a signal

--to minority group Americans, that the path to peaceful progress is open and available to all who choose to walk it;

--to all Americans, that our national purpose is being served, and the requirements of our national conscience met, through lawful democratic processes;

--and to the world, that America is determined to achieve racial harmony and social justice for all her people.

To one man--the Negro veteran of Vietnam--the fair housing provision will have a special meaning. I do not need to tell you what he has done for our country. It is up to us--to all of us--to assure him the elemental rights in his own country for which he risked his life overseas. That man-and his race--are entitled to the justice this bill provides.

Mr. Speaker, I urge the Members of both parties in the House of Representatives to complete this work--vigorously and promptly. It will be nonpartisan recognition of justice and equality for all American citizens.



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

Note: The Civil Rights Act of 1968 was approved by the President on April 11, 1968 (see Item 195).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter to the Speaker of the House Urging Prompt Action on the Civil Rights Bill. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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