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Atlanta Mayor Calls Segregation “Slavery’s Stepchild”

July 26, 1963 - The Mayor of Atlanta appealed to Congress today to pass legislation to eliminate segregation, which he called “slavery’s stepchild.” “We cannot dodge the issue,” Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. (pictured) told the Senate Commerce Committee. “We cannot look back over our shoulders or turn the clock back to the 1860s. We must take action now to assure a greater future for our citizens and our country.” In the last several years, Atlanta has desegregated city parks and golf courses, public schools, lunch counters, and its leading hotels for the holding of conventions. Mr. Allen, who was elected Mayor in 1961, took pride in the progress. He said, “It has been a long, exhausting, and often discouraging process, and the end is far from being in sight.” What Atlanta has accomplished, he said, has been done partly by voluntary action and partly as a result of court orders. But the task of dealing with discrimination in public accommodations would have been easier if there had been a national law to guide local officials and businessmen, he said.

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