Churchmen at White House Conference ponder strategy once laws are passed; question guest list, U. S. policies

There was one complaint after another about this month’s White House Conference “To Fulfill These Rights”—the procedure was wrong, the pre-fab legislation wasn’t specific enough, the wrong people were invited. But some steam was let off and some eyes were opened during two days of discussion by 2,800 invitees (200 of them from religious organizations).

Largely because of church pressure, the hottest issue at last November’s planning session for the conference—the stability of the Negro family—disappeared (see December 17, 1965, issue, page 38).

The Washington Post contended editorially that civil rights is a dead issue, since legal rights are established. But several Southern pastors at the capital conference found some unfinished business on this agenda. The Rev. James McRee of Canton, Mississippi, said that as long as federal school funds are channeled through his state government, Negroes will continue to get second-class education. The Negro is free to attend an all-white school, he said, but if he does he will be harassed constantly.

The ambush shooting of James Meredith days later was a graphic reminder of the remaining problems in law and order.

But such Southern eddies off the mainstream of American democracy seem quaint at a time when the civil rights movement is increasingly concerned with the North, with jobs, and with housing.

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a blue-ribbon front including many religious leaders, held a press conference to back President Johnson’s national fair-housing bill and other 1966 civil rights proposals. The President made a surprise visit to the White House conference and ...

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