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Attorney General Makes Concession on Civil Rights Legislation

June 26, 1963 - Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy said today the Administration would be willing to exempt small stores and tourist homes from its proposed ban on discrimination in privately owned public accommodations. Mr. Kennedy appeared before the antitrust subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee as the initial witness on President Kennedy’s civil rights bill. The public accommodations section of the bill is the most controversial. The Attorney General’s concession was regarded as greatly improving the chances that the House committee would report a relatively strong bill. In his opening statement, Mr. Kennedy said that the courts and the Executive had taken far-reaching action to redress ancient grievances and inequities. “Now it is clearly up to Congress to bring its strength to bear,” he declared. Nothing is more contrary to the spirit of the Constitution than to deny full rights and privileges to a section of the community solely because their “skin is not white,” when these people are required to meet all the duties of citizenship, the Attorney General said. “The Constitution provides the means for redressing this inequity,” he asserted. “If we do not use those means, we compound the wrong.”


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