President hits discrimination in civil service (9-7-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (September 7, 1941)


Calls for fairness to all citizens employed by government

Hyde Park, NY, Sept. 6 (UP) –
President Roosevelt tonight called on all government departments and agencies to take immediate steps toward eliminating racial discrimination, particularly against Negroes, in the federal civil service.

Mr. Roosevelt sent a letter to Mark Ethridge, Chairman of the Fair Employment Practice Committee established in the Office of Production Management, to investigate complaints of racial discrimination in the defense industries or government.

The President arrived in Hyde Park this morning.

In a letter to the heads of all departments and independent establishments, apparently designed to supplement an executive order issued by the President on June 25, Mr. Roosevelt said:

It has come to my attention that there is in the federal establishment a lack of uniformity and possibly some lack of sympathetic attitude toward the problems of minority groups, particularly those relating to the employment and assignment of Negroes in the federal civil service.

With a view to improving the situation, it is my desire that all department sand independent establishments in the federal government make a thorough examination of their personnel policies and practices to the end that they may be able to assure me that in the federal service the doors of employment are open to all loyal and qualified workers regardless of creed, race or national origin.

It is imperative that we deal with this problem speedily and effectively. I shall look for immediate steps to be taken by all departments and independent establishments of the government to facilitate and out into effect this policy of non-discrimination in federal employment.

Special measures

The President’s executive order directed that government departments and agencies concerned with vocational and training programs for defense production take special measures to assure that they are administered without:

…discrimination because of race, creed, color or national origin.

It also required all contracting agencies of the government to include in all defense contracts a provision obligating the contractor not to discriminate against any worker because of race, creed, color or national origin.

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