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Rustin to Arthur Hill Arthur Hill was president of a company that was notorious for discriminating against African Americans—the Atlantic Greyhound Lines. As president, Hill would have received countless complaints from the NAACP, civil rights leaders, and everyday blacks facing insult and injury from racist bus drivers in both the South and the North. September 26, 1947 Dear Arthur M. Hill: I note in the New York Times of September 21, 1947, that you have been selected Chairman of the Security Resources Board.The Times goes on to say, “In the event of another war, he will be responsible for the quick mobilization of the total military, industrial and civil resources of the nation.” I am certain that you have taken on this very grave responsibility after serious consideration, and I would not be at all surprised if terrific personal sacrifices are not involved in your leaving your work to do what you consider a patriotic service. I am certain that most Americans today, in thinking of the possibility of war, consider that such war would be with the Soviet Union. Many Americans are all the more frightened because communism is appearing in many parts of the world almost as a religious doctrine. I would, therefore, assume that in taking on this added responsibility, you, as a Democrat, would seriously feel the growth of totalitarianism a threat to the American way of life. I was, therefore, somewhat astounded in the conclusion of the biographical sketch in the Times, which said, “He is president of the Atlantic Greyhound Corporation.” I recall writing you earlier asking what effect the Supreme Court decision in the Irene Morgan Case would have upon the behavior of the Atlantic Greyhound Corporation. Perhaps the letter never came to your attention, but I did not receive an answer concerning that which, to many Americans, certainly to millions of Negroes, is a burning democratic issue. I have for some time been of the opinion that many people in the


lower economic brackets espouse communism out of desperation, and I sincerely believe that in many cases the lack of democratic freedom at home is more responsible for the development of totalitarianism here than any outside forces possibly could be. I would, therefore, like to know the reason for Atlantic Greyhound Corporation’s failure to follow the decision of the Supreme Court in the Irene Morgan Case. Since June 3, 1946, many Negroes traveling interstate have been arrested, and officials of the Greyhound Corporation have signed warrants for their arrest. I raise this question because I, too, am keenly interested in defending democracy, but I would certainly add that I believe democracy can be most effectively defended by a healthy working of democratic institutions in America. I certainly hope that you will have time to answer this letter. Sincerely, Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters: Letter to Arthur Hill  

Rustin's letter to Arthur Hill, published in I MUST RESIST: BAYARD RUSTIN'S LIFE IN LETTERS edited by Michael G. Long (City Lights, 2012)