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(The statement referred to is as follows:)
STATEMENT BY MR. PHILIP MURRAY IN SUPPORT OF SENATE Bill No. 1313, ON
BEHALF OF THE CONGRESS OF INDUSTRIAL ORGANIZATIONS, APRIL 30, 1941 The Congress of Industrial Organizations has been since its inception strongly in support of the principle of Federal aid to education. Mr. John L. Lewis placed a statement before this committee in support of a similar bill in March 1937.
The first convention of the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1937 passed a resolution in support of the principle of Federal aid in schools and the general program laid down by the President's Advisory Committee on Education.
The President's committee itself has had the strong support of organized labor and a representative from the Congress of Industrial Organizations was a member of that committee.
Organized labor has always been in the forefront in seeking improved public education. It is well known that perbaps the strongest proponents of public education, when it first was contemplated in this country, were the organizations of working people.
The Congress of Industrial Organizations believes that democracy cannot be effective unless every child, no matter to what economic station he may be born, nor to what religion or color, shall have an educational opportunity limited only by his capacities to make use of that education. The technical experts before this committee have pointed out that this Nation is still woefully short of that goal in spite of the fact that it is foremost in the world.
The children who suffer most from the inequities of educational opportunity are the children of working people and farmers. The large part of this inequity exists because in the places where working people and farmers live there are not adequate facilities for education. After all it must be remembered that most of the children in American public schools are children of working people and working farmers.
It is on these grounds that the Congress of Industrial Organization, representing four and a half million American workers and farmers, is in support of this measure.
The bill does not go as far as we would like to have it. We believe that substantially increased funds are necessary. We feel that there ought to be provision for increased adult education and vocational education in the bill, among other things.
However, we feel that it is most important to establish now the principle of Federal aid and we therefore urge the passage of the bill.
The adequate education of our children is just as important to the defense of our country and of our democratic ideals as the manufacture of arms. The neglect of this vital function of democracy at this time would be to throw away the substance for the husk. Guns alone cannot preserve democracy.
The CHAIRMAN. Dr. Logan. Your name and what you represent, please?
STATEMENT OF DR. RAYFORD LOGAN, CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE
ON THE PARTICIPATION OF NEGROES IN THE NATIONAL DEFENSE PROGRAM
Dr. LOGAN. My name is Rayford Logan and I represent the Committee on the Participation of Negroes in the National Defense Program, an organization which is authorized to speak for several national, State, and local organizations situated in practically all points of the country.
This is a unique experience. My role as chairman of the Committee on the Participation of Negroes in the national-defense program has almost invariably been to protest against something that the Government was doing or failing to do. Our committee has had to appear
before Congressional committees to protest against the exclusion of colored men from the Army in our racial proportion to the total population. We are seeking even now an opportunity to protest to congressional investigating committees against the continued widespread discriminatory practices which undemocratically limit the training and employment of Negroes in defense industries.
It is, therefore, a very pleasant and a most unusual experience to be able to say that we endorse the spirit and philosophy of Senate bill 1313 as a first and necessary step in the direction of equal education for all the American people. We are especially pleased because, as the bill now stands, it contains a substantial assurance that the funds will be spent in accordance with that spirit and philosophy. Although I am appearing on behalf of a special minority group I wish to say that our voice is raised in behalf of others as well as of ourselves. If I speak only of Negroes, it is because of the fact that we are the most underprivileged minority. We need this legislation more than do any others. If we get the equality sought in this bill, it goes without saving that all others will have it. I wish to urge the adoption of the bill as it now stands for two
First of all, it is the bare minimum that Government can do in bolstering the morale of a depressed and dissatisfied one-tenth of the American population. It would be an act of supererogation for me to emphasize before this committee the importance of morale to the national program of total defense. The morale of our minority group has taken a terrific battering. Few of the racial elements in this country could have suffered as we have and still have their chins and thumbs up, a wan smile and a rugged resistance to subversive activities.
We suffered more than did any other group during the depression. To use a statement that has become an ineradicable description of American life up to now: “We were the first to be fired and the last to be hired.” Even today when the national defense has given employment to hundreds of thousands, we Negroes are brutally excluded in large numbers. Almost within the shadow of the Capitol, the Glenn Martin Co. near Baltimore has some 17,000 white workers but not 1 Negro. As yet, Government has been unable or unwilling to exercise the necessary authority to correct this industrial totalitarianism that is as grievous to us as the totalitarianism of Europe is contrary to democratic ideals. Economically, we are still being Coventried.
It is encouraging, then, to find a measure before Congress into which the distinguished sponsors have themselves written an assurance of such equality as is possible within the framework of our existing institutions. That is the most encouraging element to us. It means more than it would if it had been necessary to amend an original law in order to give this ray of hope to a gloomy people. But, gentlemen of the committee, there is an inescapable corollary to what I have said just now. That corollary is this. It would be cruel beyond measure to raise our hopes and then crush them. It would have been better never to have led us to believe that a new spirit was pervading the Government. I earnestly urge in behalf of a people whose morale is declining every day, not to alter this bill in any way that will take its teeth out of it. You owe it to us not to betray us. You owe it to yourselves not to betray those democratic ideals which you have already written into this measure and which you are interposing as an
indispensable ideological barrier to world domination by totalitarianism. We urge the passage
of this bill as it now stands for a second reason. That reason is also geared to total defense but it is practical rather than ideological. A low morale of one-tenth of the population means that there can be no total defense. But this one-tenth can contribute more than just morale. It can, if given the opportunity, acquire the same skills in any field that any other individuals can. There are perhaps those who doubt this. These doubters remind me very much of the attitude in the camp of the American Expeditionary Forces near Bordeaux in World War I. Colored soldiers were generally prevented from driving an automobile because they were thought incapable of learning to drive. We laugh today at that attitude.
But there are those who said Negroes could not become aviators. Fortunately, some officials in the War Department realized that, so long as you prevent men from doing something, you can plausibly argue that they cannot do it. And so today, Negroes are demonstrating at Tuskegee that, given equal opportunity, they can fly a plane with all the coolness and skill that aviators of any other group can.
In spite of all kinds of handicaps we have developed scientists, technicians, mechanics, craftsmen. The Government needs all the capable men it can find. The laws of physics are not violated because a skillful black hand operates the machine. The laws of chemistry know no color line. The trajectory of a bullet or of a bomb will not vary simply because a black finger pulled the trigger or released the bomb. But you must give our youth an opportunity to learn modern methods on modern equipment. It is in this respect that this measure can be most helpful. All too many of our southern youth are not receiving any vocational training or vocational training that is outmoded and even antiquated.
This Nation was greatly handicapped in its total national defense in the First World War and it is handicapped today by unwise educational policies which have denied to one-tenth of the population equal opportunities for every kind of education.
In the last war the serious and almost inexcusable mistake was committed of trying to make artillerymen out of colored soldiers who came from regions where education had been denied them that would permit them to master the requirements for artillery. I am reliably informed that the same distressing situation is developing in this war.
For obvious reasons many of the camps have been located in the South. For equally obvious reasons, since southern Negroes constitute a considerable portion of this racial minority, a large number of colored soldiers from the South are in those camps. But this is the very region in which the most glaring inequalities have obtained. The United States could afford perhaps to maintain this inequality, in peacetime, without evident great danger to herself. But now that total defense means just that, and not one whit less, we are paying an extremely high price for these inequalities.
The Government of the United States has adopted a policy of assigning colored soldiers to every branch of the United States Army. I am convinced that the proud representatives of any section of the United States would not want the stigma attached to them of having deliberately prevented the qualifying of any soldiers from their section for any branch of the United States Army or for service to their section and their Nation in defense industries.
At this very minute, however, unless the change has taken place in the last few days, there is not a single vocational course for colored students in the Huntington High School of Newport News, Va., the center of a vast shipbuilding industry. There are vocational courses for white students in this city but colored students have to pay 20 cents carfare to go to Hampton Institute and return if they desire training in courses that are of vital importance to total national defense.
Contrast this with what has been done in Washington, D. C., for example. Dr. Charles Houston who appeared before this committee yesterday, and I, were both officers in the last war. We, like many other colored officers in World War I, received our early military training in the excellent high school cadet corps of this city. A considerable number of the colored officers of the United States Army today are similarly products of this cadet corps. And, gentlemen of the committee, I particularly ask you to note this. Practically all of the colored officers in the United States Army today are graduates of colleges north of the Potomac and of the Ohio. This is due in large measure to the fact that the only two colored universities that have senior R. O. T. C. units, namely Howard and Wilberforce, are located in Washington, D. C., and in Ohio. I realize that this bill deals with only primary and secondary education in public schools. But what I am trying to point out is this. The inequalities that exist in the elementary and secondary schools south of the Potomac and the Ohio are a part of the general picture of inequality that has prevented a single one of the 17 colored land-grant colleges from having a senior R. O. T. C. unit.
The proposed legislation will not change this situation overnight. But who would venture to predict how much time will be required to prevent world domination by the totalitarian powers? And who would be so bold as to deny that this threat to American institutions and ideals may recur 25 or 50 years from now and that just as this menace is greater than was that of the first World War, the next danger may be just so much greater than this one? The totalitarian powers threaten our institutions, our way of life, our very existence perhaps because they utilize scientifically and skillfully the full energy and the skills of all of their people. We can meet that menace only by total national defense. I beg you therefore to recommend and to vote for this bill as a clarion declaration of your determination to reassure one-tenth of the American people that you are not unmindful of them and to demonstarte to the totalitarian powers that in public education at least the Government of the United States is prepared to take an indispensable first step in the direction of equal opportunities of all the American people whether they live in the North or in the South, in rich States or in poor States, in cities or in rural areas, and whether they be white or black.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Dr. Logan.
Mr. L. H. Dennis, Executive Secretary of the American Vocational Association.
STATEMENT OF L. H. DENNIS, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY,
AMERICAN VOCATIONAL ASSOCIATION
Mr. DENNIS. I take it, Senator Thomas and Senator Ellender, that the only thing of interest to you in any presentation from our group would be our position on the bill, and very briefly why.
There are many reasons why the American Vocational Association is supporting this bill. Most of those reasons have been adequately presented in previous testimony. One of our reasons was very effectively presented by Senator Ellender this morning.
There are two reasons which I can state very briefly, which apply specifically to the field of vocational education, which give us added reason for supporting this bill.
In the first place, if school districts have difficulty in maintaining the usual school facilities, then they have added difficulties in attempting to provide additional facilities in vocational education, and the spread of necessary occupational adjustment training facilities is thereby retarded.
In the next place—and this has been brought out very significantly in the large and effective program of defense training—we have found from experience through the years, emphasized in this defense-training program, that if we can have in these vocational classes youth and adults who have a good sound, fundamental general education, the vocational training is much more effective.
Now those are two reasons which in themselves would make our group throughout the United States interested in having the schools of this country, in the various communities in this country, in a position where they could adequately finance the entire educational program, including the program of vocational education.
We would like to let our case rest with that and ask permission to file this simple statement.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Dennis, we will be glad to have it. (The statement referred to is as follows:)
The program of vocational education under public school auspices is a part of the program of public education designed to assist our youth and adults in fitting themselves for successful and happy living. The vocational education phase of this program of public education devotes itself to assisting youth and adults in making their occupational adjustments and readjustments. It is concerned with fitting youth and adults for employment in various occupations. The very successful vocational training program now being carried on to prepare workers for essential defense industries is an emergency vocational training program.
The experience of many years in the field of vocational education has clearly demonstrated the wisdom and the necessity of giving our people as thorough and as broad a fundamental education as possible. Specific vocational training is more effective when given to a group of youth or adults who have had the benefit of a sound program of general education. For this reason, the vocational education leadership in this country is strongly in favor of ample provision for a strong fundamental program in education.
Communities that do not have sufficient resources to provide necessary facilitie in the field of general education are doubly handicapped when it comes to providing additional facilities in the field of vocational education. For this reason, many communities throughout the United States have, as yet, no vocational training facilities.
The American Vocational Association, representing over 24,000 vocational leaders throughout the country, favors financial assistance to the school districts of this country, through a proper system of Federal aid for education. We therefore give our support to s. 1313, the bill now pending in Congress.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Paul M. Cook.