A letter from Greensboro, NC

Dr. E. Berkeley
902 Montrose Drive
Greensboro, N.C.

902 Montrose Drive
Greensboro, N.C.
22 March 1964

The Honourable Sam. J. Ervin, Jr.
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C.

Dear Senator Ervin,

I appreciate very much the effort which you and other southern senators are making to prevent the passage of an unamended “civil rights” bill, without thorough discussion of its content. I am generally sympathetic toward integration efforts which are conducted strictly within local, state, and federal law. I also believe that new legislation proposed under pressure of mass hysteria must be most carefully studied, lest very dangerous provisions of such legislation escape notice.

May I call your attention especially to Section 407(a)(2) Suits by the Attorney General, which (as reported by Higher Education and National Affairs, the publication of the American Council on Education, 1785 Massachusetts Ave.,N.W., Washington, D.C.) reads as follows:

Whenever the Attorney General receives a complaint signed by an individual, or his parent, to the effect that he has been denied admission to or not permitted to continue in attendance at a public college by reason of race, color, religion, or national origin, and the Attorney General certificates that the signer or signers of such complaint are unable, in his judgment, to initiate and maintain appropriate legal proceedings for relief and that the institution of an action will materially further the public policy of the United States favoring the orderly achievement of desegregation in public education, the Attorney General is authorized to institute…a civil action in any appropriate district court of the United States against such parties and for such relief as my be appropriate. [Italics mine]

If I interpret this provision correctly, any disappointed applicant for admission to a public college, or any student unable to maintain a passing average at a public college, might, not unnaturally, feely that his rave or national origin, or religion, rather than his ability as a student, was responsible. He could then request the Attorney General to bring civil action in district court against the college. If an Attorney General chose to do so, he could keep the state colleges of a particular state constantly in court. Even if he did not chose to do so, he would have a constant deluge of complaints from disappointed parents which he would of necessity have to, at least, investigate. At bare minimum, this would add a heavy burden to already burdened colleges, and a large bureaucracy to administer the investigation. The pressure to admit and to promote students of minority groups in order to avoid endless investigations and litigation will be heavy. This provision alone establishes federal control of all public education in this country.

For many reasons I do not feel that I should become involved in public controversy which may embarrass the institution at which I teach, so I must request that my name not be made public in connection with this letter.

Respectful yours,

E. Berkeley
Associate Professor of Biology
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

[Transcribed by Xiaohan Yi]

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