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Letter of Transmittal


Washington, D.C., February 12, 1963


When the Commission met with you to present its statutory report in November 1961, you requested, in connection with the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, a report on the civil rights progress of the Nation during the past century. This document is the result of our efforts toward that end.

Your request gave the Commission the unique opportunity of placing the Nation's recent civil rights progress in its historical context. As we reviewed the record of earlier periods, the progress

of the past two decades took on new significance. Surely the Nation is at the threshold of a new birth of freedom.

We have used the words of Lincoln for the title of this report. The civil rights story of the century since the Emancipation Proclamation has indeed been one of securing "freedom to the free.”

The Commission has greatly benefited from its review of the Nation's civil rights progress. It is our hope that our efforts have met your request and that the report will contribute to a better understanding of one of our Nation's most pressing domestic problems. Respectfully yours,

For the Commission


In responding to the President's request for a report on civil rights in America since the Emancipation Proclamation, the Commission called upon some of the Nation's leading historians for assistance. For inextricably merged with the civil rights story is the historic march of our Nation to its present world position in the family of nations. It was necessary to assess those social, political, and economic factors that have determined the form and substance of our progress toward equality since this Nation's beginnings.

We acknowledge with gratitude the contribution of Dr. John Hope Franklin, Chairman of the History Department, Brooklyn College, who, under contract with the Commission, developed a basic manuscript upon which the Commission relied in the preparation of this report. Our appreciation is also expressed to three distinguished historians, Dr. Rayford W. Logan, Dr. Allan Nevins, and Dr. C. Vann Woodward, who served as consultants to Dr. Franklin.

Further thanks are owed to Dr. Charles H. Wesley and his colleagues, Drs. Paul McStallworth, Jerome W. Jones, and Prince Wilson at Central State College, Ohio, and Dr. Butler A. Jones of Ohio Wesleyan University for their research papers on particular aspects of the period of history under consideration.

Our gratitude is also expressed to Robert Denny for his editorial assistance and to Warren Pfaff for his cover design.

It is impossible to acknowledge individually the contributions made by members of the Commission staff under the leadership of Berl I. Bernhard, Staff Director. Their dedication and perseverance in meeting the report deadlines while carrying forward their other work cannot be too strongly praised. It is appropriate, however, to single out for acknowledgment the work of Dr. Cornelius P. Cotter, Assistant Staff Director for Programs, who bore the major responsibility for the development of the report in its present form.

We hope that the work of these distinguished citizens has been adequately translated by us into a report that will serve as a source of enlightenment and hope concerning one of our most serious and persistent national problems.

Our heartfelt thanks to all who have so generously contributed of their time, knowledge, and experience.

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