Letter in opposition to the Civil Rights Bill, Salem 1966 (2)
Letter written by a resident of Salem in opposition to the Civil Rights Bill, on the grounds that it takes away certain freedoms.
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.
I am writing for my family in regard to a bill that the Congress will vote on. I am [sure] you know what I am referring to, the so called Civil Rights Bill H.R.14765 and S 3296. We sincerely hope you will not vote for this bill and certainly I never thought the day would come when this country would send thousands of fine young men
to fight for others freedom while at home we would lose ours. If that ever happens we should insist those boys and men should be returned, as we will need them. The Federal government is going too far in everything. People are disgusted with all the projects that is going on. It won’t work. People have to help themselves. This Civil Rights Movement is very disturbing. They want too much.
Letter to Congressman Bates, June 26, 1966. 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.