Right of Access to Public Accommodations

July 3, 1963

Report Outline
Negroes and Public Accommondations
State Statutes and Court Decisions
Reaction to Shift in Racial Climate

Negroes and Public Accommondations

Congress and the Fight on Racial Discrimination

Impelled by the deepening crisis in race relations, President Kennedy asked Congress on June 19 to enact the most far-reaching civil rights legislation since the Reconstruction Era. The most controversial of the President's several proposals would strike down one of the more painful forms of discrimination against Negroes: the “white only” policy of many hotels, restaurants and other places of public accommodation in the South and, to some extent, in other parts of the country.

Recent court decisions have removed the legal basis for racial segregation in tax-supported facilities such as public parks, golf courses, swimming pools and the like, and have undermined the authority of states and localities to require segregation in facilities operated for the general public by private concerns. The question now is whether Congress will enact legislation to forbid private owners and operators to deny service to Negroes on their own volition—and whether such a law, if enacted, will stand up to a constitutional test.

The administration worked over its civil rights proposals for a month while seeking to mobilize support from all factions of the two major political parties, from governors and mayors, from religious leaders and educators, from business and labor leaders, and from the public at large. The public accommodations measure nevertheless faces a difficult battle in Congress. Southern senators are expected to employ filibuster tactics in an attempt to block its passage. And some supporters of general principles of racial equality are certain to raise objections to legislation under which the federal government would seek to control practices of private business enterprises in relation to their customers.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
African Americans and the Civil Rights Movement
Jul. 22, 2022  Black Hairstyles
Nov. 15, 1985  Black America Long March for Equality
Aug. 12, 1983  Black Political Power
Jan. 18, 1980  Black Leadership Question
Aug. 15, 1973  Black Americans, 1963–1973
Nov. 26, 1969  Racial Discrimination in Craft Unions
Sep. 11, 1968  Black Pride
Feb. 21, 1968  Negro Power Struggle
Mar. 08, 1967  Negroes in the Economy
Jan. 19, 1966  Changing Southern Politics
Oct. 27, 1965  Negroes in the North
Jul. 21, 1965  Negro Revolution: Next Steps
Oct. 14, 1964  Negro Voting
Sep. 21, 1964  Negroes and the Police
Jul. 03, 1963  Right of Access to Public Accommodations
Jan. 23, 1963  Negro Jobs and Education
Mar. 25, 1960  Violence and Non-Violence in Race Relations
Aug. 05, 1959  Negro Employment
Apr. 18, 1956  Racial Issues in National Politics
Apr. 18, 1951  Progress in Race Relations
Dec. 17, 1948  Discrimination in Employment
Jan. 10, 1947  Federal Protection of Civil Liberties
Aug. 25, 1944  The Negro Vote
Jul. 01, 1942  Racial Discrimination and the War Effort
Mar. 25, 1939  Civil and Social Rights of the Negro
Jul. 22, 1927  Disenfranchisement of the Negro in the South
Civil Rights: African Americans
Segregation and Desegregation