Remarks to the Members of the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity Upon Receiving Their Report.
Secretary Wirtz, Mr. Taylor, members of the Committee, ladies and gentlemen:
This is a doubly gratifying privilege for me. I am satisfied that this is a report of success, a report of steady and substantial success in a most challenging field.
I am gratified personally that I had the privilege of working with you as your Chairman during a part of the period covered by this report when I was your Vice President.
In 1960, immediately after the election, President Kennedy asked me to devote some time to this work and no assignment that I received from him was ever closer to my heart or my interests.
The ideal of equal opportunity, I believe, is the bedrock ideal of our society and of our system. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to work for that ideal's greater realization.
There have been other Presidential committees that have operated in this field from time to time. I believe it is fair and, I hope, objective to say that no committee has ever written anything like the substantial record that you have written that is incorporated in these pages.
Since March of 1961, when you were formally organized, your activities have helped unite in this country management and labor, church and school, organizations and individuals, and they have commonly supported national ideals and national goals.
I believe the work of this Committee has done much to lay the groundwork for the responsible and, I believe, peaceful acceptance of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
I have been especially pleased with the many leaders from business and labor in our communities who have been working with this Committee's program who have come forward and offered their valuable leadership in response to this new law of the land. I have been hearing from them from all parts of the Nation in the last few hours. Our Nation's progress and the progress of all humankind toward equality of rights and toward opportunity is a steady climb and not just a big, quick leap.
The challenge continues, the need for patience and perseverance continues, the need for responsible leadership from responsible citizens continues, and we must be grateful and glad that we are moving forward and that we have the unified leadership of all sectors of our national life.
You members of this Committee have set a notable example for others to follow. You have made it clear that we are not working n any one region or in any one industry or to benefit any one group of American alone. This is a national program to the benefit of all the people. This shall continue to be the guiding star and the prevailing standard in all the work that we do to expand the horizons of every American regardless of race or religion or region.
We started on a very modest basis. We had a few individuals get together and out line a plan that would bring equality in employment. That plan has now grown to where it covers companies that employ mort than 7 million people. The President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity is known to most of the leaders of industry and leaders of labor in this country, and to the church and educational leaders, in this country.
This Committee, wherever it is known, has been accepted and has been rewarded with the support of our people. Your service has been a great contribution, and I have not the slightest doubt that we would not be where we are today except for the leadership that you have given.
To those of you who are in public service, you can take real pride in pointing to the achievements of your Government.
To those of you who are in private life, you see a law that has been passed by more than two-thirds of the Congress and is now being accepted in every State of the Union. That is the most comprehensive set of guidelines for the preservation of human rights and for the protection of individual freedom that has been written in this country in the last century.
So, you must be proud of the part that you have played in that achievement.
We are just beginning. The people of this country have a long, hard road to travel before we will have achieved all of our objectives. But if we make progress in the next year as we have made in the last year, if we move forward in the next 4 years as we have moved in the last 4 years, we will see a new nation, a better nation and a stronger nation--a land in which all of us can take increased pride.
Thank you so much for your help.
Note: The President spoke shortly after noon in the Rose Garden at the White House. His opening words referred to Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz, Vice Chairman of the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, who presented the report to the President, and Hobart Taylor, Jr., Executive Vice Chairman of the Committee.
The Committee's "Report to the President," covering the period March 1961-November 1963, is dated November 26, 1963 (150 pp., Government Printing Office).
The President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity was established on March 6, 1961, to eliminate discrimination because of race, creed, color, or national origin in employment by the Federal Government, by government contractors, and on federally assisted construction projects (see Executive Orders 10925, 11114, 3 CFR, 1959-1963 Comp. pp. 448,774). In addition the Committee developed "Plans for Progress," voluntary agreements covering manufacturers and other businesses which do not fall within the scope of the Executive orders. The Committee's report pointed out that more than 200 corporations, employing more than 7 million persons, were participating in these voluntary agreements.
Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks to the Members of the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity Upon Receiving Their Report. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/239064