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April 15, 1949
Honorable Earl E. Warren
Dear Governor Warren:
I would like to call to your attention a problem which, in my opinion, merits immediate and specific action by the State Government. This is the problem of increased discrimination against racial minority groups in employment. The threat of unemployment is disquieting in itself, but it is many times worse when accompanied by discrimination, which creates frustration and hostility and divides our citizenry into opposing groups.
Ours is a cosmopolitan state. We occupy a spot high on the list of great industrial and agricultural areas. We have reached this position through the contributions of our people who are of all races, creeds, and colors; and we must remember that this contribution was often made under severe handicaps.
Generally, the people look to the state to assume sound leadership in promoting equality of opportunity. That our State is not only failing in this, but is actually fostering discriminatory patterns, is too obvious to need study or documentation.
No study is needed to find discriminatory work orders filled by our State Department of Employment. It is certainly not a hidden fact that our State Guard practices segregation of troops on a color line; nor is a survey needed to fathom the depths of discriminatory practices by our State Civil Service, or by insurance companies when they issue automobile insurance. This latter practice, incidentally, interferes with job opportunities.
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These facts, together with ample evidence of discrimination still found in some labor organizations and private industry, underline the need for remedial legislation along the lines of the New York Law against Discrimination (FEPC) which has been in successful operation for almost four years.
In 1945, I introduced such a bill in the Legislature. Again in 1946 an FEPC law was submitted to the voters of California as an initiative measure. In both instances the measure was defeated because groups and individuals who had claimed to be in favor of Fair Employment Practices ran out when they had an opportunity to do something concrete.
Since that time, not only have both major parties renewed their pledge of "equal opportunities for all," but many States have left us behind by passing FEPC laws. Only recently two West Coast states passed such laws. If the states of Washington and Oregon, our neighbors on the Pacific, can do this, why can't we?
Objections raised against FEPC in this state were that some of the provisions were unworkable and that "radical groups were behind it." Both arguments were false. But that is not important now. There is ample opportunity before us to draft a bill along the lines of any of the laws in any of the other states where such measures are in operation; and there is no necessity of letting so-called left wing or radical groups "steal the show."
Let me make this crystal clear also: I do not care who sponsors the bill. I believe a strong FEPC should be created. I do not believe we need disagree over minor provisions. I offer to you my privileg at this session of introducing a bill along the lines of the model New York law, or I will be glad to support a bill of yours along the same lines. I have the assurance that a vast majority of the Democrats in the Legislature would support such legislation.
I therefore appeal to you, as the leader of the Republican Party in California and as Governor of our State, to throw your support behind this issue, to take the leadership, if you care, in giving some hope to the millions of our citizens so we shall not leave them jobless.
AUGUSTUS F. HAWKINS