I don’t feel that the Civil Rights Act has gone far enough in some of its coverage.

In the first place, it needs a stronger voting section. You will never have a true democracy until you can eliminate all restrictions. We need to do away with restrictive literacy tests. I’ve seen too much of native intelligence to accept the validity of these tests as a criterion for voting qualifications. Our nation needs a universal method of voter registration—one man, one vote, literally. Second, there is a pressing, urgent need to give the attorney general the right to initiate federal suits in any area of civil rights denial. Third, we need a strong and strongly enforced fair-housing section such as many states already have. … Fourth, we need an extension of FEPC to grapple more effectively with the problems of poverty. Not only are millions of Negroes caught in the clutches of poverty, but millions of poor whites as well. And fifth, conclusive and effective measures must be taken immediately at the federal level to curb the worsening reign of terror in the South—which is aided and abetted, as everyone knows, by state and local law-enforcement agencies. It’s getting so that anybody can kill a Negro and get away with it in the South, as long as they go through the motions of a jury trial. There is very little chance of conviction from lily-white Southern jurors. It must be fixed so that in the case of interracial murder, the federal government can prosecute. – MLK, Playboy, January 1965, “A Candid Conversation With The Nobel Prize-Winning Leader of The Civil Rights Movement – Martin Luther King, Jr. Interviewed By Alex Haley”


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