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here and consume the time of the committee with communistic argu. ments, when we are trying to find a solution for a great wrong.
Senator Van Nuys. The objection will be sustained.
Mr. FORD. Under those circumstances it is necessary that I, under protest, proceed further with my speech as outlined, in view of the fact that the chairman refuses to allow me to proceed according to my idea of the proper method.
Are we for antilynching legislation? That is, the Legal Struggle for Negro Rights. Of course we are. I want to speak on this bill in particular. Despite the fact, as I have already said, that the Government in all its arms has afforded no relief to this situation, despite all these things, I want to take up some of the fallacies of this present bill.
Senator Van Nuys. You informed me that you were in favor of the bill.
Mr. FORD. I am in favor of it.
Senator Van Nuys. On another occasion those who are opposed will be heard. You should come in under the other category.
Mr. Ford. Under the circumstance, I am not opposed to it, but I have certain statements to make with regard to its inadequacies and its fallacies.
Senator Van Nuys. Proceed.
Mr. Ford. No. 1, section 1, as to the definition of the phrase, "mob or riotous assemblage." Such a definition so worded would be, in my opinion, designed to work against the working-class of people, even strikers, when it is defined as a group of three or more people. It is so worded as to legalize the murder of Negroes by landlords. For example, let us take Camp Hull, in Alabama, where an organized
group of three or more would resist seizure by a landlord of their land, tools, or livestock. A lynching mob would be defined as "a mob acting in concert without of law for the purpose of doing physical injury.”. I am, therefore, opposed to the definition as defined in section 1 of this bill.
Section 3. By giving the Federal courts jurisdiction to place a $5,000 fine or other punishment on officers tends to create the illusion that there is a difference between Federal courts and local courts; that the Federal courts also would not rule in the interest of the oppressor against the oppressed. I want to give you an illustration. Take the Scottsboro case. When that case was first brought before the United States Supreme Court it tried to evade a ruling on the case.
Senator DIETERICH. So far you have been against every provision of the bill. What provision do you favor? Address yourself to that.
Mr. Ford. I want to point out
Senator DIETERICH (interposing). You said that you were in favor of the bill. You have only given us your objections.
Mr. Ford. I have listened here to people in opposition to certain sections.
Senator DIETERICH. Address yourself to those provisions of the bill you think will help eradicate the thing you are against. In the first section you say you are opposed to the definition.
Mr. FORD. I am not the only one who has opposed certain parts of the bill. I think the Attorney General of Maryland did, as well as other different witnesses.
Proceeding on this question of section 3, again referring to the Supreme Court, I am trying to point out the so-called “ difference between the local and Federal courts. I think it is necessary for you who are framing this bill to understand that if you are going to frame a bill that will be effective
Senator DIETERICH (interposing). We are not framing the bill. We are having a hearing upon this bill.
Mr. FORD. For the purpose
Senator DIETERICH (interposing). For the purpose of reporting on this bill.
Mr. FORD. And to enact it, possibly. Later, when the Supreme Court was forced by mass pressure to hear the appeal of the Scottsboro case, filed by the International Labor Defense, the Court evaded the issue raised by the defense of the systematic exclusion of Negroes from jury service in Jackson and other counties in Alabama.
Another example in the case now before the Federal court in Baltimore, in which an attempt is being made to disbar Bernard Ades, who will testify here today, an International Labor Defense attorney, presumably for his defense of Euel Lee, and also his militant fight against lynching in Maryland.
Another fallacy, in my opinion, of this bill is that lynching is treated as something entirely different from the general oppression of the Negro people, of which lynching is one of the most manifest.
Another fallacy of this bill is that it says nothing about lynching frame-ups, such as a court-room lynching, of which the Scottsboro case is an outstanding example.
Senator DIETERICH. What do you mean by that!
Mr. FORD. As an example of a lynching frame-up. Another fallacy is that there is no demand for the death penalty against lynchers. The bill provides as a substitute that the relatives of persons who have been lynched can sue for $10,000. We have a similar law existing in West Virginia. A county was fined on account of a lynching, and the county officers simply ignored the fine and stated that there were no funds in the treasury.
We, however, are not opposed to any antilynching legislation.
Mr. Ford. The Legal Struggle for Negro Rights, which I am speaking for now. On the contrary, we are for alĩ legislation aimed to achieving civil rights for the Negro people in the abolition of lynching. This is not the first time we have come forward with such a proposition. Last year our organization proposed a bill of civil rights. It was brought here by the Scottsboro marchers. It was taken to the President of the United States, President Roosevelt, to the House, to the Senate of the Congress. This bill of civil rights not only proposed legislation, but proposed that, in order for it to be effective, a mass movement must be built around it; that it must be used as a weapon to guard citizens against lynching, which is the only way to stop it. The bill of civil rights that we proposed does not treat lynching as an isolated phenomenon but as a part of the old system of Jim Crowism.
Senator DIETERICH. Mr. Chairman, I object to any further continuation of this testimony. It has nothing whatever to do with this bill. He says nothing pertaining to the bill. He is now expounding some philosophy in regard to another bill, which is of no value to this com nittee in the consideration of this bill. So far everything he has said has been against this bill. I object to any further testimony from him.
Senator Van Nuys. The objection is sustained.
Senator Van Nuys. No further time. You have done practically nothing but attempt to expound communistic philosophy.
Mr. FORD. Yesterday Mr. Walter White tried to warn you of the spread of Communism.
Senator Van Nuys. I am chairman of this committee, and I am going to call the next witness.
STATEMENT OF JOHN KNOX, CHAPLAIN OF FISK UNIVERSITY,
Mr. Knox. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I speak not only as a person who lives in the South but also as a person who has always lived in the South and whose father and mother and ancestors were southerners. It is a matter of common knowledge, of course, that Negroes in the South are denied virtually all their political and legal rights, a situation that I think all of us in this room will agree is intolerable and cannot be permitted or condoned. If I know any. thing about the history of the human race, and have some conception of the spirit of Negro youth, I think I can say that it is a thing which cannot and will not be permanently tolerated.
There is a growing bitterness and resentment among the Negroes of the South about which everyone interested in the future of the Republic must be concerned. Lynching is the worst single feature of that whole situation. There has been much said during the course of these hearings as to its brutality and all of that, which has been gone into sufficiently here. It is also the outstanding symbol of the old system of oppression.
If I might cite a case very briefly, because I will take only a few moments, it may serve to illustrate the situation. This occurred in our own community not two blocks from my home in Nashville recently. I think it will serve to indicate why we feel there must be Federal legislation on this subject. It is the case with which perhaps you are familiar, because it had some publicity in the press.
Cordie Cheek, a colored boy 17 years old, who had been released from custody because the grand jury of Maury County, Tenn., failed to bring in an indictment, was taken from the home of his uncle, two blocks from my home, in daylight, by eight men in two cars. The cars have been identified. The numbers are known by the police, and by the prosecuting officer of the county. He was taken out and murdered in the usual bestial fashion.
Nothing has been done about that. It happened December 15. Those of us in the city who are concerned about such matters have brought every pressure to bear upon the officers of the city and county, but nothing has been done. The local district attorney is reported, in a manner I can not doubt as being authentic, as having said publicly that he felt the lynchers did a good job and were perfectly justified in the act. Some of us who are concerned about the matter are now engaged in raising money in order to engage a special prosecutor who will impartially investigate the facts and prosecute the case if the State's attorney will give him permission to do so. That is a difficult situation.
I have lived in the South all my life, and I am quite sure that local sentiment cannot be dependent upon to prosecute lynchers. Of course, there are decent people in the South, in the ordinary sense of the term; decent white people, I mean. There are persons who would not themselves participate in a lynching party, but who are not, I think I may say from my knowledge of conditions, and I have lived in six States of the South, the sort of persons who would support the efforts of local officers in prosecuting lynching or in preventing lynching.
I am in favor of this bill. The Negro ought to be a citizen, and he is not. He is not given equal justice. The courts have fallen down, not only in respect to punishing lynchers, but they have fallen down in the matter of denying justice to the Negro, in unjust severity of sentences. I hope the Federal Government will take cognizance of that situation and provide some sort of measure and pressure upon the States that will result in preventing lynching, and, if possible, prosecuting lynchers with a view to preventing future lynching. I think it would give a little hope to many millions of people who are almost without hope, that justice will be done, that justice can be arrived at, through the development of our institutions of government, through rational processes.
Senator Van Nuys. Do you think that this bill is founded on good public policy?
Mr. Knos. I do, indeed, every part of it. I cannot agree with those who feel that even the fine should not be imposed indiscriminately.
Senator DIETERICH. Let me understand you. You are in favor of the principle of this bill?
Mr. Krox. Yes, sir.
Senator DIETERICH. The principle of giving the Federal authori. ties the power to correct abuses where they occur?
Mr. Knox. Yes, sir.
Senator DIETERICH. And I think that is true of every one who has ever studied this crime of lynching. You say you favor each ana every provision of the bill. Has your study of this bill convinceu you that each and every provision of it is perfect and proper for the lawmakers to write into a bill to accomplish the object you are in favor of ?
Mr. Knox. I cannot speak as a lawyer, but the principle of imposing a fine on the county appeals to me, with all my limitationsnot being a lawyer, I mean—as being thoroughly appropriate.
Senator DIETERICH. That is, a county which is negligent through its officers in failing to give the equal protection of the law to all of its citizens.