THE U.S.A. SECTION: CIVIL RIGHTS: Negro boy tests new Civil Rights law

Missouri, 1964
From The Guardian

One minute after President Johnson last night signed the Civil Rights Act into law, Jene Young, a 13-year-old Negro boy from Mississippi, walked into the barber's shop of an hotel in Kansas City and asked for a haircut.

No Negro had been served in any part of the hotel since it opened 60 years ago. The boy failed. But this morning he tried again; and this time was successful.

However, Missouri is not Mississippi, it is likely to be some time yet before Jene Young and his fellow Mississippi Negroes will be able to have their hair cut in their own state in the barber's shops of their choice.

Reaction in other parts of the country to last night's historic step has been varied. The Administration's hope has been that businessmen throughout the South, who have hitherto been reluctant, would seize the opportunity to act together.

Apart from this there have been a few encouraging signs. The president of the largest chain of cafeterias in the South has said that, rather than defy the law, Negroes would be served. Negroes began receiving service last night, he said. "We are going to obey the law," he added. "There is no other way." That epitomises the reaction which the Administration here has hoped for from those who until today had bitterly opposed the Civil Rights Bill.

In Dallas (Texas) a drive-in last night served Negroes for the first time. And in the same city, a single Negro dined alone in an hotel which had earlier been subjected to civil rights picketing.

Many Southern owners of "public accommodations," however, are going to refrain from complying until the legality has been tested in the courts.

The Governor of Mississippi was asked today if he thought restaurants and hotel owners should comply with the new laws. He replied: "I don't think they should. I think it should be tested in the courts." In Mississippi an attempt to test the voter registration provisions of the Act failed.

The Governor of Tennessee, on the other hand, today urged compliance with the new law.

Governor Wallace of Alabama, predictably, reaffirmed today that he would oppose the new law by not enforcing it in his State. The Governor of Florida expressed the slightly enigmatic hope that the new law would take racial conflict off the street and into the courts.

The Governor of Georgia was equally enigmatic. He said: "I hope that the enforcement of these laws will never be needed in Georgia." The Governor of Virginia thought the burden of making the law work successfully rested with the Negro.

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