Letter to Congressman Bates from a member of the National Association of Real Estate Board.
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 Representatives from 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.
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JUNE 6, 1966
CONGRESSMAN WILLIAM H. BATES
HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON, D. C.
DEAR CONGRESSMAN BATES:
I AM WRITING TO YOU IN REGARDS TO H.R. 14765, WHICH ACCORDING TO INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO ME, APPEARS TO DENY ONE OF THE RIGHT TO EXERCISE HIS FREEDOM OF CHOICE.
THOSE OF US WHO ARE MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REAL ESTATE BOARDS ARE NOT AGAINST OPEN OCCUPANCY OR EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TO OBTAIN HOUSING. WE FEEL THAT THIS BILL WILL RETARD THE ADVANCEMENT OF BETTER RACIAL RELATIONS BY ATTEMPTING TO DENY PEOPLE THE FREEDOM OF CHOICE.
I WISH, THEREFORE, TO VOICE MY OBJECTION TO THIS BILL.
VERY TRULY YOURS,
Judiciary (HR 14765)
June 8, 1966
Dear Mr. Davis:
I appreciate very much your letter of June 6th in which you express your opposition to that portion of H.R. 14765 dealing with real estate.
I believe that any extension of the civil rights law, in this regard, should be in accord with Massachusetts laws. In the Massachusetts laws (Massachusetts Annotated Laws, Chapter 151 B, Sections 1-10 (1951) as amended) as in the laws of numerous other states, there is this same exception to the Fair Housing Acts. This exception is also in the FHA rules and regulations as Secretary Weaver testified recently before the House Judiciary Committee.
This matter is presently pending in the Committee and I understand that it will undertake consideration of such an amendment, which I would be very happy to support.
With kindest regards, I am
William H. Bates
Letter to Congressman Bates, June 6, 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.
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