Interview with Jerris Leonard
QUESTION 3
LOUIS MASSIAH:

What was meant by, what, what did you understand by "civil rights"? What did that mean to you?

JERRIS LEONARD:

Well, i- some people feel that that's simply the, the, the simple enforcement of the federal laws, and certainly that was the mandate--

LOUIS MASSIAH:

Could you just say "civil rights" when you first answer the question?

JERRIS LEONARD:

Sure, Civil rights, to some people, means simply the enforcement and the mandate, ah, enforcing the mandate of the laws. I had a strong feeling that our real purpose was to try to be a, a, tool, an effective, ah, tool to, to trying to bring Blacks more closely involved in the, in the mainstream of American life, whether that be in schools or, or housing, or public accommodations, or, or employment. Ah, in a sense, I guess, ah, I felt that there was more than simply enforcing the law, that you had to look at the broader picture: what were you accomplishing? And, the importance of that was, you had to recognize that the federal government was not going to solve the racial problems in the country, it had to be a much broader perspective, and we did involve state and local people to a far greater degree, and, and, and in a very important sense, they contributed as much as the Civil Rights Division did to trying to bring Blacks into a greater share of the mainstream of America.