Comment on a minority; Elmer Carter
The comments on a minority now in one thousand eight hundred forty five. The state legislature of the state of New York passed the law against discrimination in employment and in which the law a commission against discrimination was created. The bonus is that Mr. Elmer Carter the commissioner of the New York State Commission Against Discrimination always surprised the state of New York pioneered in the area of anti discrimination legislation. In an interview recorded with Commissioner Carter in 1958 he outlined the workings under the text of that legislation that you are listening to portions of that interview considerable discussion and considerable argument arrayed against the passage of the law in 1945. One of the great commercial and industrial organizations of the state of New York the manufacturers associations and the chambers of
commerce and various local Chambers of Commerce of whose interest was purely city our county. The arguments which they advanced are the familiar arguments against legislation designed to affect change and racial relations. The argument was that you cannot legislate people's thinking. That if you attempt to legislate prejudice you will come upon the fate of the Prohibition amendment which was an also an attempt on the part of the United States to legislate people's taste. The explanation which at that time did not appear to have great force was that this law
was not designed to legislate prejudice. This law was designed to protect people from the prejudice of others. It did not say you shall not be prejudiced. It does not say that you shall like Negroes or Jews are. The foreign born at Marilee says that the luxury of your prejudice must may be yours but it cannot be used to deprive other people of the rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution of the United States and by the way by the Constitution of the state of New York. So the law was passed and the law as stated actually and I think this language is eloquent and more eloquent the actual language of the law than any statement which I might make an interpretation of it. It states that it shall be deemed
an exercise of the police power of the state of New York. For the protection of the public welfare of health and peace for the people of this state. And in fulfillment of the provisions of the Constitution of the state concerning civil rights. And the legislature here by fines and declares that practices of discrimination against any of its inhabitants because of race creed color or national origin are a matter of state concern. That such discrimination threatens not only the rights and proper privileges of its inhabitants but menaces the institutions and foundation of a free democratic state. A state agency is hereby created with power to eliminate and prevent discrimination in employment because of race
creed color or national origin. As herein provided and the commission established here under is hereby given general jurisdiction and power for such a purpose and then Article 291 of this law it states the opportunity for employment without discrimination is a civil right. This is the language the opportunity to obtain employment without discrimination because of race creed color or national origin is hereby recognized as and declared to be a civil right. The law. Let's pass and the spring of 1945 and became effective on July the 1st
1945 as the day approached. Far as the effective date approached there was a great deal of apprehension and anxiety among the people of the state of New York as to the consequences of this kind of legislation. There were fears that it would stimulate racial untag and isms rather than prevent them. That the introduction of negroes into the personnel or in some instances people of the Jewish faith of industrial and commercial institutions were needed no negroes had ever been admitted before except on the level of the custody or menial level would bring about friction. That industries compelled to carry on their business under these laws would leave the state that.
It was a usurpation of the individual's right private right to employ of his own free will and that the law would be declared unconstitutional if once litigation ensued following its attempted enforcement of the law provides that it shall be an unlawful employment practice to refuse to employ a person in any job category because of his race as creed his color or is national origin. The law provides that in the event a person or two applies for a job and he feels he is rejected because of his race or color or creed or national origin he may file a complaint with the commission which has been
created in order to secure redress and a remedy for the denial of his civil rights. The law also provides that it's an unlawful employment practice to discriminate in the terms and conditions and privileges of employment. Even when you're implied that is that you cannot if you employ a person who is a negro or Italian or Jewish person you are a Puerto Rican. You may not have a differential wage or different conditions of employment for them because of their race or color. And the bases of promotion in the echelon of progression in employment shall not be denied restricted or obstructed because of race or creed
or color or national origin. So that a person who not only who feels that he has been rejected for employment because of his race creed color national origin but who fails to secure promotion all feels that there's a differential wage or a a a a a an assignment of duties which are based upon race creed color national origin may file a complaint with this commission. On the filing of the complaint the chairman of the commission which is composed of five members appointed by the governor of the state of New York. May I assign the complaint to one of the commission and direct him to initiate an investigation. The investigating commissioner with a member of the staff investigates the charges of the complaint. The charges
which have been made alleging discrimination when the investigation is completed. The investigating Commissioner must attempt to eliminate the unlawful employment practices complained of. Whether it's the rejection of the person because of his color and is charged or failure to promote by conference conciliation and persuasion. If he makes a finding of probable cause to credit the allegation in the complaint. In other words the complainant comes to the office of the commission to any one of its offices throughout the state. And to give you an illustration there is an advertisement in The New York Times or other New York papers for a calm Thomas or operator for a young woman a young negro
woman or several non Negro Women answer the advertisement and apply for the job. I feel out the application given the test and I rejected this one woman feels that she has been rejected because of her race and color and comes to the office of the commission as is our right and files a complaint in our complaint under the law she must set forth the particulars of her experience which led her to believe that she was being dismissed because of a writ rejected because of her race and color so she may say on October the 7th. A response to an advertisement in The New York Time is for calm time under operators by such and such a department store. I went to the office of the Spartan store to apply for the job I filled out an application. I took several test I was
rejected. I feel I was rejected because of my race and color. The investigating commission the chairman of the commission will designate a commissioner to direct an investigation into this charge. And I feel representative of the commission will make the investigation. The investigation will be a very thorough one. The first the first date of the advertisement the specifications for the job the qualifications and support of the persons who were selected for the child at the time of their selection for the job in relation to the time that the applicant made her application. They had the qualifications of the repressions who were rejected whether or not they met the specifications qualifications such as experience training perhaps even age
and then he makes a final report to the commissioner who directed the investigation and if on that report the investigating commissioner feels that there is reason to believe that the person was rejected because of their color or national origin or what have you. He will call the respondent or employer in. And tell him that he has made a finding of probable cause to credit that allegation in the complaint and under the law he must attempt to to settle the matter to adjust the complaint to eliminate and prevent the discrimination in other words by conference conciliation and persuasion. He may say to the employer the terms of conciliation I submit to you are aid that you shall offer this young woman.
The first job of a cause come tamad or operator that is available in your establishment and you must compensate her for loss of earnings which she suffered as a result of this discrimination. Oh no. Those may be no such terms as the may not be couple sometimes the investigating commission or request that the person be hired. If a vacancy occurs. When a vacancy occurs and I don't think that the commission and its ever resorted to the compensation for loss of earnings because of prejudice. Very frequently unless the possibility of employment is too remote. Now
if the investigating commissioner finds after his investigation that the young woman did not meet the specifications for the job that the persons who were hired were actually supreme to her in their qualifications he would dismiss the complaint with the finding of no probable cause to credit the allegation in the complaint. And if he is. Derives from the investigation the idea that while this complainant may not have just cause for a complaint there is a policy of discrimination in the establishment and the pattern of the employment reflex resistance
to the employment of Negroes or Jewish people are Italians or Puerto Ricans or resistance on the basis I should say of race creed color or national origin. He may ask the employer to undertake to inaugurate certain series of steps which will be designed to accelerate compliance with the law. You may say after having made an investigation. The general pattern of the employment that there appears to be some resistance to the employment of Negroes are the foreign born or some religious resistance to employment on the basis of religion. Therefore we're going to ask the president of this company to issue a directive to all department heads
to all of those officials of the company who are closed with the authority to evaluate to interview to hire or to dismiss stating that it is the policy of this company to comply with the law against discrimination and to hire without regard to race creed color or national origin. This may also be done when a finding of probable cause is made and there is no job for the individual. Or there is reason to believe that the employer. Is willing to cooperate with the commission and in the history of the commission. This kind of step has been
taken by numerous employers both including those against whom findings of probable cause as have been made in the specific complaint and those were the specific complaint has been dismissed and but the pattern of the employment would have appeared to reflect some resistance for instance an employment of fifteen hundred people recruited from the high schools of the city of New York and which there is no Negro implied in a clerical position. 15:00 typists the Naga for his comm Tama tour operators IBM tabulator has operators of tabular apparate is an IBM tabulating machines. All of these in the city of New York where thousands of colored women young women are in the high schools with his beard to indicate if such a personnel force existed that there was and without any Negroes
that there was some resistance to the employment of Negro. This was once theoretical. It is not theoretical any longer. Now we know it's true because out of the 13 years experience of the commission and scores and scores and scores of instances and in great areas of employment following the commission. Effort to seek cooperation from the employing group significant and sometimes dramatic change has appeared and the pattern of improvement. I want to give you an example. You take the great banking institutions of the city of New York and 1945 and there were none. I almost should say but there may have been very rare exceptions no colored person employed in the great banking institutions of
the city of New York in any position of a clerical nature. There may have been one or two colored persons employed in a cargo category and bank branches located in Harlem. But even there it was rare. Although this was a concentrated negro neighborhood but the great banking institutions of the city of New York. In the contacts which the commission has had with them I have expressed not only a desire and a willingness to comply with the law but to take affirmative steps to indicate that they wish to employ without regard to race creed color and national origin. And although in these institutions it may not be it may be that there is
there are I should say areas of discrimination. The pattern of their employment as undergone in the last 13 years such dramatic change that it would be unfair. To say that there is has not been it is sire to comply with the law for at the last review which the commission made of the employment pattern of the banking institutions of the state of New York there were literally hundreds of young colored men and women employed as clerks as IBM operators as come time under operators in the bookkeeping divisions and all of the real estate area real estate divisions and all of the operational areas of the bank banks. And there have been young colored men and women in air and
and banking institutions which prior to 1945 no Negro could ever hope to enter in employment except as a janitor. And that sometimes with great difficulty you find now hundreds as I said before of negroes who are employed by some and supervisory position someone who have been promoted to positions of tellers and to and others who have been given even more responsible positions in various sections of the bank. This is true of the great life insurance companies and they are greatest of all of the life insurance companies in the arc which prior to 1945 when
the passage of this law had no negro was employed in clerical positions has upwards of 900 negroes Naso employed and its principal office and the City of deal. And these people these examples may be may be and duplicated throughout the city in St.. And scars and scars of industrial and commercial are going to say sessions which prior to the passage of the law against discrimination in employment in the yard had no Negro in any positions above or other than to be exact class still do you know. Meaning you are unskilled positions on the lowest level.
Now that does not mean that there has been there are that discrimination has been eliminated and the state of New York that Marilee me that it has been demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that legislation. As one of the great deterrents of discrimination in employment and legislation can see a widening opportunity the lessening of discrimination on the basis of race color creed or national origin. And more than that that legislation serves to arouse the conscience of those people in the community who feel that it is un-American and undemocratic to deprive a person of the opportunity to work because of his race creed color or national hardship.
Now this does not always follow. The law provides that if you are responding to an employer a labor union an employment agency that has been charged with discrimination and where the investigating commission has found probable cause to credit the allegation in the complaint that the respondent may reject the conciliation process. The employer may say I think the investigating commissioners are all we did not discriminate against this person because of their race or their creed or their color or national origin. We do not accept their decision. We reject it. And that event under the law of the investigating commission is not able to effect to effect the elimination of the unlawful employment practice complained of. He must
note the case for a public hearing. It should be noted that since the passage of the law in nineteen hundred and forty five the jurisdiction of the commission has been extended to cover. Discrimination in places of public accommodation. This extension of the jurisdiction of the commission occurred in one thousand nine hundred fifty two and in one thousand nine hundred and fifty five. The x jurisdiction of the commission against discrimination was still further extended to comprehend discrimination and publicly assisted housing. The progressive extension of the
commission's jurisdiction. And these are highly sensitive fields of human relationship. Housing and public accommodation is a tribute to the theory developed in the passage of the law itself. The theory that the achievement of the goal of equality of opportunity is not beyond possibility through legislation through all. Through laws which provides for our. Investigation for an attempt of conciliation through cooperative effort and through certain legal punitive Maisie's.
If that fails you have been listening to Mr. Elmer Carter commissioner of the New York State Commission against discrimination. Mr. Carter's remarks were taken from a longer interview recorded with him in 1958 in connection with the production of the last citizen. The Negro in America a series of programs produced under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters here now as our producer E-W rector to tell you about next week's comments on the minority Next week our guest will be Dr. Arnold Rose professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Rose collaborated with going to Murdoch and his monumental study on the American Negro and American dilemma. He subsequently wrote an authorized abbreviation of that study the Negro in America and has continued to be a close observer of the position of the negro and the United States. Next week in the final program of the series Dr. Ro's will comment on the changes in the pattern of Negro
- Comment on a minority
- Elmer Carter
- Producing Organization
- Purdue University
- WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-4f1mmg23).
- This program features an interview with Elmer Carter, commissioner of the New York State Commission Against Discrimination.
- This series explores minority issues in the United States in the mid-20th century.
- Social Issues
- Media type
Guest: Carter, Elmer A. (Elmer Anderson), 1890-1973
Interviewer: Thompson, Ben
Producer: Richter, E.W.
Producing Organization: Purdue University
Producing Organization: WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-51-12 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “Comment on a minority; Elmer Carter,” 1960-11-16, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 13, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-4f1mmg23.
- MLA: “Comment on a minority; Elmer Carter.” 1960-11-16. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 13, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-4f1mmg23>.
- APA: Comment on a minority; Elmer Carter. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-4f1mmg23