Letter from the Haverhill Council of Church Women in support of Civil Rights Bill, 1966 (1)

Letter from the Haverhill Council of Church Women in support of the Civil Rights Bill. The response from the Congressman addresses Title IV. 

This document represents one of several materials taken from the papers of Representative William Henry Bates at Salem State College.  Bates was Essex County’s Representative in the United States House of Representativesfrom 1950-1969.  The letters reflect Essex County residents’ opinions on the Fair Housing portion of proposed Civil Rights legislation.  The Fair Housing provisions of various Civil Rights bills prohibited racial discrimination in the sale or rental of all homes.  Many Essex County residents saw this provision as a violation of their property rights.  Homeowners that lived in two- or three-family homes were particularly outraged.  The letters span from President Johnson’s first proposal of Fair Housing legislation in 1966 until 1968 when the bill was finally passed.  The tone of the letters becomes much more sympathetic after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968.  

Mrs. Edward Johnston

Haverhill Mass

July 26, 1966

Hon. Wm H. Bates

Dear sir:

This letter is being written to ask your support of the 1966 Civil Rights Bill and to oppose any weakening amendments – particularly any attempts to delete the provision establishing a Fair Housing Board to enforce the prohibition against housing discrimination.

I also ask your support of any effort to strengthen the bill, in line with the points made in the Consensus of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (SCCR)

Thank you sincerely.

Mrs Edward W. Johnston R.
Member Haverhill Council of Ch Women

Judiciary – Civil Rights Johnston, Edward W. Mrs.

July 28, 1966

Mrs. Edward W. Johnston
79 Kenoza Street
Haverhill, Massachusetts

Dear Mrs. Johnston:

I appreciate your letter of July 26th urging my support of civil rights legislation.

As you know, Title IV was considered to be the primary controversial section of this bill and it has not been mended. I intend to support this Section which is somewhat akin to our Massachusetts law.

There are, as you probably know, some ambiguities in the bill which were discovered after it was reported by the Committee and I believe that these matters should be clarified.

Thanking you for writing to me on this important matter, and with kindest regards, I am

Sincerely yours,

William H. Bates


Haverhill Council of Church Women to Congressman Bates, July, 1966. Letter. William Henry Bates Papers, 1941-1973. North Shore Political Archives 98-02, Folder: “Legislative Files-Judiciary-Civil Rights Act (1966) Box 3-4. Salem State College Archives.