Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Swearing In of Stephen Shulman as Chairman, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

September 21, 1966

Mr. Shulman and family, Justice Harlan, and friends:

We have come here to the Cabinet Room this morning to swear in a new Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

I have known this new Chairman, Steve Shulman, for several years. I worked very closely and very pleasantly with him during my association as Chairman of the Equal Employment Committee when Mr. Shulman was assistant to Secretary Arthur Goldberg and I was Vice President. So I can testify to his ability. I am confident that he is going to be a very effective, just, and aggressive Chairman.

He has his work cut out for him.

In the past year, the Commission has received 9,000 complaints about job discrimination. Two-thirds of those complaints come from our Negro citizens.

Such statistics are especially grim when unemployment among Negro citizens is nearly two and one-half times that among other citizens--8.2 percent among Negro citizens compared to 3.6 percent among others.

In 1964, when we passed the first fair employment practices act in history, there were those who said that business and industry could not accept it. But those who underestimated the good sense of the American people proved, again, to be wrong.

We have just had a similar experience with the civil rights bill of 1966. Congress has bowed, temporarily, to the doubters. Although a majority in the House and a majority in the Senate favor this bill, a majority is unable today to work its will. But its will will be worked and the bill will be passed in due time, I believe.

I think we are going to get fair housing legislation in this country--because simple justice demands it and I think the American people have always, when they know all the facts and they get the truth, done what is fair, what is right, and what is just.

Despite these occasional setbacks, we have made great progress. We have been making progress in the employment field--because the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has two strong arms and it has not been afraid to use both of them. We have an enforcement arm. But we also have a second arm--the arm of persuasion and conciliation. Chairman Shulman knows how to use them both--and that is what I intend for him to do.

Thousands of enlightened businessmen in this country and union members have already proved that they really want to do what is right. But for every uncooperative employer, there have been three who are willing to sit down and reason and devise a reasoned and fair solution.

So I plan to stay very close to the Chairman of this Commission and very close to his work. I think he is going to be a good Chairman. I promise you that if he shows any signs whatever of slowing down, I will give him plenty of encouragement to hurry up!

He will have succeeded in his job when he, or one of his successors, can come to the White House and recommend to the President that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission be disbanded--because there is nothing left for them to do--discrimination has been banished from our land. And that is the day that we all look forward to.

Thank you very much for coming to this ceremony this morning. It is a great pleasure for me to see all of Mr. Shulman's friends.

Note: The President spoke at 11:50 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Associate Justice John M. Harlan of the Supreme Court, who administered the oath of office. He also referred to Arthur J. Goldberg, United States Representative to the United Nations and former Secretary of Labor.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Swearing In of Stephen Shulman as Chairman, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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