VOICE OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
The National Federation of the Blind is not an organization speaking for the blind--it is the blind speaking for themselves
2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, Calif.
AUGUST ISSUE - 1960
THE BRAILLE MONITOR
Published monthly in Braille and distributed free to the blind by the National Federation of the Blind, 605 South Few Street, Madison 3, Wisconsin.
Inkprint edition produced and distributed by the National Federation of the Blind, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, California. Subscription rate--$3.00 per year.
EDITOR: GEORGE CARD, 605 South Few Street, Madison, Wisconsin.
News items should be addressed to the Editor. Changes of address and subscriptions should be sent to the Berkeley headquarters of the National Federation of the Blind.
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National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
The 1960 Convention: Rendezvous with Destiny
by Jacobus tenBroek
Six State Affiliates Suspended by Convention
Ken Jernigan Withdraws from Federation Office
Text of Convention Address
by Kenneth Jernigan
Constitutional Amendments Adopted by Convention
Election of Officers and Board Members
Convention Banquet Memorializes NFB History
Convention Highlights: Major Addresses and Panel Discussions
The NFB Program: Summary of Legislative Report
Fundraising and Finances: Convention Resolutions
The NFB Scores Again: Sequel to the D.C. Teacher Story
Convention Pays Tribute to Deceased Leaders
Convention Social Notes
by Dr. Jacobus tenBroek President, National Federation of the Blind
The 20th anniversary convention of the National Federation of the Blind, held at Miami from July 1 through July 4, has now passed into history. Under any circumstances it would be appropriate to memorialize such a milestone in the pages of our official journal. But, as the many hundreds of our members who made the journey to Florida are aware, the 1960 convention was not conducted in ordinary circumstances. This special convention issue of the Braille Monitor, prepared in the Berkeley office of the Federation, constitutes a review and report of what those circumstances were.
It was not only the internal circumstances of our organization which made the Miami convention unusual. No less extraordinary--and even more important to the long-range policies and purposes of the National Federation-- were the external circumstances throughout the broad field of work for the blind which stirred with new and germinal activity during the year and with which the 1960 convention was called upon to deal. In public assistance and social security, in vocational rehabilitation and sheltered workshops, in disability insurance and unemployment benefits, in vending stands and special employment, in education of the blind and teaching opportunities for them-- indeed, in every significant area touching the lives and livelihoods of the blind people of our land--the year 1959-1960 witnessed a dramatic acceleration of activity and decision. More than at any previous time in the two decades of its organized existence, the NFB has found itself confronted with new changes and chances across the board of its objectives. More than ever, it has become of crucial importance to possess and preserve a united organization capable of performing an affirmative role in the shaping of the future for the nation's blind.
The task of the 1960 convention at Miami was to prepare the Federation for that role.
The determination of the Federation's officers and the vast majority of its members not to permit the full time of the convention to be squandered on internal warfare--as it had been at Boston and at Santa Fe--was evident well in advance of the convention and remained clear throughout the four days of its proceedings. The convention agenda, prepared by the president at the request of the executive committee, set aside two specific periods of time for purely internal matters: Friday afternoon, July 1, and Monday morning, July 4. A third period, Sunday evening, was added by the convention. All other meetings were reserved for speeches, reports, resolutions, and panel discussions on the vital issues of policy and program which traditionally have given the Federation its character and purpose. This agenda was carried into execution.
As a direct result, the Miami convention witnessed a revival of the serious mood and constructive atmosphere of the most memorable conventions of earlier years--although it was continuously harassed by the efforts of a small minority to boycott and disrupt those sessions not devoted principally to the fighting of their battles. The convention heard important addresses from a wide range of government officials and professional experts--among them Dr. Merle E. Frampton, director of the Elliott Committee workshops on rehabilitation and education of the blind; Louis Rives, Jr., chief of Services to the Blind in the Federal Office of Vocational Rehabilitation; Ralph Altman, chief of the Division of Determinations and Hearings in the Federal Office of Employment Security; Arthur Korn, chief of the handicapped workers' section of the Labor Department's Wages and Hours Office; Seymour Brandwein, AFL-CIO economist; Harry Spar, of the Brooklyn Industrial Home for the Blind; J. M. Woolly, first vice president of the American Association of Instructors for the Blind; Tim Seward, administrative assistant to Congressman Baring of Nevada; Perry Sundquist, administrator of California's Aid to the Blind program; as well as program reports and discussions by our own members, such as those of President tenBroek on sheltered workshops and of John Nagle and John Taylor on legislation.
(The following speeches and papers are now available to our members through national headquarters: an Annual Report covering the Federation's activities in 1959-1960; the convention addresses of Mr. Woolly, Mr. Altman, Mr. Brandwein and Mr. Sundquist; Dr. tenBroek's paper on sheltered workshops, and John Nagle's legislative report.)
In short, the Miami convention of 1960 was a time of decisions--on virtually all fronts. The constitution of the NFB was substantially amended. Six state affiliates were suspended for activities destructive of the Federation's objectives and existence. The first vice president of the Federation withdrew from national office. All five officers and eight members of the board of directors faced election by the convention. Important decisions were taken with respect to fundraising and other financial matters.
The substance of these decisions, and the events surrounding them, make up the content of the pages to follow.
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Six state affiliates of the National Federation--those of Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and South Dakota--were suspended from membership by the Miami convention for activities destructive of the character and objectives of the NFB.
The convention decisions were reached on two separate occasions--the first affecting North Carolina alone, adopted on the opening day, and the second embracing the other five state affiliates, carried out on Sunday evening, July 3.
The basis for the convention's action to suspend North Carolina was the transmission of a letter from the officers of the affiliate to Congressman Walter S. Baring, expressing opposition to federal legislation introduced by the congressman at the NFB's request. The motion, which was adopted by a vote of 30 to16 with one abstention, directed that North Carolina be suspended for its "action in conflict with the legislative program of the Federation before Congress, and that it be readmitted when the executive committee is satisfied with its assurances that it will discontinue such behavior."
Among the 16 votes cast against the motion was that of North Carolina itself. However, in view of the stipulation of "Robert's Rules of Order" that a single member against whom such a motion is directed cannot vote on it, North Carolina's vote was improper and the motion actually passed by a two-thirds majority. Nevertheless, the president ruled that a simple majority was sufficient for suspension; and his ruling was upheld by the convention by a vote of 30 to 15, with one abstention. The ruling was based in part on the explicit enumeration by "Robert's Rules" of all those subjects on which a two-thirds vote is needed. Subjects not on the list require only a majority. While expulsion is among the matters specified as calling for two-thirds, suspension is not on the list and therefore demands a simple majority. Entirely apart from the question of correct parliamentary procedure, however, is the requirement of the NFB's constitution that the convention not be thwarted by parliamentary maneuvers, whether technically correct or not, in its expression of the majority will on any matter. The exact language of the constitution on this point (Article V, Section a) is as follows: "Consistent with the democratic character of the Federation, convention meetings shall be so conducted as to prevent parliamentary maneuvers which would have the effect of interfering with the expression of the will of the majority on any question, or with the rights of the minority to a full and fair presentation of their views. The convention is not merely a gathering of representatives of separate state organizations. It is a meeting of the Federation at the national level in its character as a national organization."
The later action of the convention to suspend the five other state affiliates for conduct inconsistent with the nature, purposes and existence of the National Federation was approved by a roll-call vote of 31 to 14, with one abstention. This was a clear-cut two-thirds majority, although, again, only a simple majority was required. Among the 14 negative votes were those of the five suspended states.
In introducing the latter motion, President tenBroek declared that the crucial question before the convention was whether or not the National Federation is sufficiently stable and strong to carry on its policies and carry out its will. Describing the organization as not just a debating society but a militant social movement whose objectives demand vigilance and concerted action, he recited a list of "the evidences of instability" which have recently overtaken the NFB and have jeopardized its continued existence as an effective agency of the organized blind. Among these evidences were the fact that the Federation's fundraiser has become increasingly disinclined to risk large sums of money in mail campaigns on behalf of an organization rent by factional strife and constantly on the verge of explosion; that members of the Federation have felt themselves free to combat its adopted policies openly before Congress; that the NFB's own organizational drives within the states have been harassed and contested by dissident members of our own minority faction; that the appointments of officers of the Federation to official positions in state governments have been bitterly opposed by hostile elements from within the Federation itself; and that disgruntled members have carried their enmity toward the administration to the point of boycotting and actively disrupting convention sessions devoted to matters other than internal warfare.
In short, the president declared, the issue is whether the will of the majority is to prevail in the Federation, or the will of a minority bent on rule or ruin. The cancerous growth of a permanent dissident organization within our national organization, in the guise of the "Free Press Association," confronts the NFB with a stark test of its capacity not merely to act in accordance with the majority will but simply to survive as an organization. The president pointed out that if in fact those basic conditions no longer exist in which the Federation can hope to carry out its policies and achieve its fundamental objectives, then equally the conditions necessary for leadership do not exist: "In that case I could not in good conscience remain as an officer, or even as a member, of an organization so disrupted and destroyed."
The president's warning concerning the consequences of internal warfare was underscored on the same evening by Tim Seward, administrative assistant to Congressman Baring and long-time friend and ally of the NFB. Noting the excellent reputation earned by the Federation in Congress over the years, and its warm relations with individual legislators, Seward concluded his address to the convention in these words:
"I have said that the National Federation of the Blind has not only gained, but has earned the complete confidence of the Congress. I say with emphasis that it has certainly earned the confidence of Walter Baring. This confidence, until very recently, has never been abused. The Federation has in legislative matters stood solidly behind its elected officers. When Chick has come to Washington to testify before committees, or when John Taylor or John Nagle have called upon a member of Congress in support of a particular piece of legislation, the testimony given, and the views expressed have fairly represented the determined views of the Federation.
"Now, I feel that after some five or six years of association that I will always cherish, it is only fair to say to you that I cannot in good conscience give you the assurance that the confidence of our office has not faltered. Not until every vestige of organized destruction within this organization can be eliminated, and not until this organization can again function under its constitution, in the true democratic way it has always operated, can I pledge to you the continued confidence, the support, and the energy that Congressman Baring has authorized me to express in his behalf.
"Then and only then do I pledge to you our redoubled effort and support in the attainment of your goals."
Prior to the Sunday evening decision to suspend five affiliates, a full hour of debate was held on the motion, with time divided equally between opponents and proponents. Those who spoke against the motion were: Dr. G. W. Slemons, Louisiana; Mr. Wiley, Florida; Ned Freeman, Georgia; Larry Thompson, Florida; Dean Sumner, South Dakota; Mary Jane Hills, New York; Durward McDaniel, Oklahoma; David Krause, Virginia; Reese Robrahn, Kansas; Alma Murphey, Missouri; Floyd Quails, Oklahoma; LaVerne Humphrey, Tennessee, and Vernon Williams, South Dakota.
Speaking for the motion were Ray Dinsmore, Indiana; Charles Little, Massachusetts; Russell Kletzing, California; Donald Capps, South Carolina; Manuel Urena, Iowa; Sandford Allerton, Michigan; George Burck, New Jersey; Clyde Ross, Ohio; Anita O'Shea, Massachusetts; Eulasee Hardenbergh, Alabama; John Taylor, Iowa; Kenneth Jernigan, Iowa; Ray Penix Arkansas, and Eleanor Harrison, Minnesota.
On the final day of the Miami convention a resolution was approved directing the executive committee to prepare a written statement of the conditions under which the suspended state affiliates would be readmitted. Subsequently the executive committee, at its post-convention meeting, directed the appointment of a subcommittee to prepare such a statement and indicated that it should place the obligation on the suspended affiliate to come forward with affirmative evidence of its willingness to cease activities destructive of the Federation and its objectives.
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A major event of the Miami convention--and, in the president's words, "a severe blow to the National Federation and all its members"--was the unexpected withdrawal of Kenneth Jernigan as first vice president and member of the board of directors.
In a dramatic address to the conventionon its opening day, Ken announced his refusal to permit his name to be placed in nomination for any further office. He attributed his decision to two principal factors: the mounting responsibilities of his job as director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, and, "of more compelling importance," the factional warfare within the Federation which had recently concentrated its campaign of character assassination in large part upon him.
His speech was a strongly worded review of the growth of factional activities over the past three years which had led to the formation of a permanent opposition cell within the Federation engaged in open resistance to its democratically adopted legislative programs, systematic efforts to injure the reputations and careers of its elected officers, and a constant drumfire of slander and innuendo resulting inevitably in mounting distrust and lack of confidence in the organized blind movement on the part of many who had been its staunchest friends and allies.
Ken concluded that only strong and decisive action by the convention at Miami could prevent the complete destruction of the movement embodied in the National Federation and make possible its gradual restoration as an effective agency of the will and purposes of the vast majority of the nation's blind.
The text of the major portion of his speech is reproduced below.
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For the past eight years I have been a member of the board of directors of the National Federation of the Blind. For the past year and a half I have been first vice president of the organization. With this convention my membership on the board comes to an end. Under present circumstances I feel that I cannot be a candidate for re-election to the vice presidency or any other board position. In short, I will be unable to permit my name to be placed in nomination for any elective office in the Federation this year.
When I reached this decision several months ago, I quite naturally discussed the matter at some length with Dr. tenBroek. It was his opinion and also mine that the reasons involved in my withdraw from office were of such a nature that they should be discussed with the convention. Accordingly, I am now on the platform for that purpose...
To summarize my first reason for withdrawing from Federation office this year, let me say that the time needed to make the program of the Iowa Commission for the Blind a complete success makes it difficult for me to carry the full responsibilities of Federation first vice president. It is as important for the Federation as for the blind of Iowa that the program succeed. The withdrawal from office does not mean that I intend to become in any way inactive in the movement, and it certainly does not mean that I feel that there is any conflict of interest involved. I would be a strange Federationist, indeed, if such were the case.
The second reason for not allowing my name to be placed in nomination for Federation office this year-- admittedly in some ways more compelling than the first--has to do with the present internal situation which faces us. In order to explain I must talk a bit about history and background.
My first Federation convention was at Nashville in 1952. That convention is still talked about and remembered by many as one of the best we have ever had. In more ways than one it was a milestone and a turning point in my life. I found a united, dedicated, aggressive organization working toward the achievement of goals which I could believe in wholeheartedly and support without reservation. Merely to be in the meeting hall and listen was an inspiration and a challenge. Many of you will remember that I was president of the Tennessee affiliate in 1952 and that I had charge of arrangements and planning. I made up my mind at that convention that the Federation was the greatest and most promising force in existence for the betterment of the blind and that I would give to it all that I possessed in the way of effort, ability, and talent. I have never regretted the decision. It was in 1952 that I was elected to membership on the board.
Nineteen-fifty-two was a good year for the Federation, as were '53, '54, and '55. The greeting card program was launched and made successful. Whereas in 1952 the national office of the Federation had less than $30,000 to work with, our income was five times as much by 1955. For the first time in the history of the organization money was also being pumped into the state affiliates. New members were coming in. New growth was being achieved. Everywhere there was expansion. And above all there was unity--the kind of unity and devotion to purpose which made the Federation unique. There was virtually no politics in the Federation and comparatively little striving for position. Leadership was based not on influence peddling or the holding of office, but upon the ability to work and the willingness to work. The conventions at Milwaukee, Louisville, and Omaha were climaxes for successive years of growth. They were not political battlefields where contending majorities and minorities monopolized the sessions with charge and countercharge and little else. Instead, they were meetings of inspiration and substantial program items, of friends and comrades gathered to exchange ideas, of organizational renewal and preparation for the year to come. They were not like Boston or Santa Fe.
By 1956 at San Francisco the progress was phenomenal. The first state surveys had been made. Nine new affiliates had come into the Federation in a single year. The Monitor was a going concern with a regular staff and a monthly publication.
As important as any of these things, our enemies had taken alarm and were desperately trying to crush us--a sure token of growing prestige. It seemed that the achievement of our goals was near at hand.
But such was not to be the case. By the 1957 convention at New Orleans--still a tremendous succes--a subtle change was beginning to come over the organization. A small group of people from within our own midst began, for reasons best known to themselves, to sow dissension and to foment civil war. They began to write letters and to go from state to state systematically destroying the unity and feeling of oneness which had always been the principal asset and distinguishing feature of the Federation. They began to say that the Federation, where any blind person had always been able to make his voice heard, was not truly democratic--that we had simply believed that it was--that in reality it was controlled by a sinister dictator and his small clique of followers who had somehow hood-winked the gullible, unsuspecting members into thinking the Federation was representative and democratic. In short, the blind were told that there had been a colossal "fix" and that they had, for eighteen years, been too stupid to see it--a "fix" which this enlightened minority had just discovered and was bent upon exposing. There were half truths, innuendoes, twisted facts, and outright falsifications.
By the time of the Boston convention the Federation that we all had known and loved, the old Federation of unity and oneness, of constructive achievement, and substantive, inspiring conventions was dead--killed by the very people who had said they had come to save it. In the year between New Orleans and Boston the Federation was transformed from a dedicated crusade to a bickering, political movement.
During that year many things changed. Perhaps the most important of these changes occurred in the activities and direction of effort which took place. My own personal role was altered substantially. Before New Orleans virtually none of my time or attention was given to internal political matters. Between 1952 and 1957 I traveled more than 500,000 miles organizing and building chapters in state affiliates; wrote "What Is The National Federation of the Blind" and "Who Are the Blind Who Lead the Blind," and "Local Organizations of the Blind--How to Build and Strengthen Them"; conducted a study for the Federation concerning the employment of the blind in the teaching profession; and took part in three state surveys of programs affecting the blind. These were happy years. The work was challenging and rewarding. Even the hostility and opposition of the agency administrators in Arkansas and the bitter accusations of having ruined the lives of some of the rehabilitation officials dismissed in Colorado and Nevada did not diminish the keen pleasure. The brotherhood and mutual support which characterized our movement were at the heart of the joy of accomplishment. It was a time of unparalleled growth and progress.
After New Orleans all of this changed. For the first time in Federation history a group from within our own ranks organized itself and pounded away at the very foundations of our movement with sledge-hammer blows. It coordinated its efforts and embarked upon a systematic campaign of vindictive destruction and sabotage of the elected officers and leaders. If the majority was to survive, if indeed the very structure of the organization was to be preserved, speedy action and counter-measures had to be taken.
The situation can, perhaps, best be summarized in the words of Edmund Burke, the English political philosopher, who championed the fight of the American colonies for independence. Burke said, "When bad men combine, the good must associate. If the good do not associate, then they fall one by one, useless sacrifices in a contemptible struggle." To paraphrase these words, we might say, "When a minority of disgruntled dissenters combine to achieve destruction and to subvert the will of the majority, then the members of that majority must associate and bestir themselves to militant action. If the majority does not so associate and bestir itself, then its members will fall one by one, useless sacrifices in a contemptible struggle--not to mention which the minority dominates and controls the society."
This sort of thing was new to us. We had long been accustomed to fighting our external enemies, but never before had we been forced to repel slander and false charges from those who had been our comrades in arms and still proclaim themselves to be Federationists. With sorrow and reluctance--and, perhaps, too slowly and with too much kindness--the great overwhelming majority of Federation members, officers, and leaders organized for battle and took up the challenge of the civil war.
The majority was at a disadvantage, however, in defending itself because it could not devote its full time to the struggle. It had the responsibility of carrying on the constructive work and programs of the Federation, of repelling our external enemies, and of keeping the organization afloat. While the minority, on the other hand, could and did divorce itself completely from such responsibility, spending virtually all of its time and energy in subversive attack and destruction. The minority would be hard put to it to point to a single legislative or other constructive proposition which it has advanced or been responsible for since the New Orleans convention. In the interest of promoting the basic objectives of our movement the external work of the Federation could not be allowed to come to a standstill.
Therefore, between New Orleans and Boston the effort of the officers and leaders had to be divided and redoubled. Legislative and other program work had to be continued and at the same time the affiliates had to be alerted to what was happening internally. This had to be done in such a way as not to give our external enemies aid and comfort or knowledge of our growing problems. State and local leaders all over the country had to be shown the documentary evidence of what was occurring and warned of what was to come at Boston. They needed indisputable and provable facts as ammunition against the propaganda of half truths being spread.
With the same energy which I had always tried to give to promoting the welfare of the Federation, I along with other leaders and members of the movement entered into this grim, new task. As I went from state to state late in 1957 and early 1958 collecting evidence and writing testimony for the right to organize bill, I also talked to the members about what was happening to us internally. For the first time in my life I found myself working for the Federation without pleasure or zest. I knew beforehand that I would earn the hatred and bitter attack of the dissenters in exact proportion to the effectiveness of my work. Dr. tenBroek and the other leaders were, of course, in the same situation.
In this connection the minority showed how badly it had misassessed matters when at the Santa Fe convention last year several of its members said from the platform (as if they thought it was an accusation, and one which I would feel called upon to deny) that I had gone from state to state organizing the majority and showing the documentary evidence of what the dissenters were doing. They should have known that I have never yet apologized for or been ashamed of any work that I have ever done in behalf of the Federation. They should also have known that I would not have denied but rather would have insisted that I had done all that I could to expose their tactics and subversion.
At the Boston convention in 1958 the Federation became acquainted for the first time with political hauling and maneuvering. The minority came organized as a bloc, and the majority found itself forced to close ranks and counter-organize in self-defense. Votes were taken not on the merit of issues but along party lines. Slates of candidates were selected, and the spirit of crusade and dedication died a painful death.
After Boston a new vocabulary came into being in the Federation. The minority taught us that when they attacked any of the rest of us or made charges, it was "democracy in action" or "the right of free speech." When these attacks were answered, however, it was "character assassination" or "defamation" and "slander." If they won an issue (a rare occurrence) it was "the will of the people" or "democracy." When they lost on an issue, it was "dictator ship" and "tyranny." When they combined to try to elect candidates or to defeat or pass motions, it was "freedom of association" and "the democratic process." When the majority combined for the same purposes, it was "dirty politics" and "tyrannical dictatorship."
Despite the fact that the will of the convention was made clear at Boston, the civil war continued. By the time of Santa Fe the days of unity and dedication were only a memory, and even the memory was beginning to fade. Again, the convention made clear its will and by a majority even larger than the one at Boston.
By Santa Fe, however, the real beginnings of chaos were commencing to set in. The political alliances and arrangements which had been made during the preceding two years were bearing their inevitable fruit. It had become accepted practice that the way to achieve recognition was not by the difficult method of doing hard work for the Federation and forwarding programs. There was a quicker and an easier way. Form alliances, circulate resolutions, make personal attacks, rise in defense of a popular leader, and, above all--yes, above all!--come up with suggestions for change-- ny change, so long as it would bring notoriety and publicity.
Another year has now gone by, and we are at Miami. The civil war has continued and, if possible, has even further degenerated. There is now scarcely a person in our movement who is not under attack by someone or disliked by this or that group. Our legislative and other programs have largely become secondary to internal politics. Witness, for example, last year at Santa Fe when even the right to organize bills were publicly attacked on the floor of the convention by the minority faction.
Or consider the fact that letters which I now have in my possession were written into Iowa by the dissenters attempting to destroy the expanding work of rehabilitation and job placement being put into effect by the Commission for the Blind. In order to hurt me personally as administrator of the Commission, certain members of the dissenting faction were willing to destroy the program of rehabilitation and job placement for the entire blind population of the state. The same thing occurred in California when Dr. tenBroek came up for reappointment to another term on the Socail Welfare Board. Regardless of the effect on the blind of the state letters of vindictive, personal attack were sent to the Governor. As you know, Dr. tenBroek was reappointed anyway--and made chairman of the board into the bargain. Again the dissenters were defeated in their efforts at destruction, but the next Federationist anywhere in the country who comes up for appointment to an advisory or policy making board and who has not capitulated to the minority will, may expect to be treated to the same type of vicious and unprincipled attack.
Also consider the letters opposing Federation legislation recently sent by the dissenters to Congressman Baring and others. Is this the so-called constructive activity to which the dissenters point with pride? Is this their positive new program? Is this the brave new democracy they would bring us?
Our fundraising programs have been endangered, and the very existence of the Federation as a continuing organizational entity is now threatened. Yet, there are those who at this present convention and even at this late date in our civil war will tell us that the past three years of destruction and strife have been a wonderful thing for the Federation, that we are now stronger than ever. I doubt that many of us will be taken in by that line. Certainly our external enemies are not taken in by it. If what we have had for the past three years has been success and progress, I would to God we had been less successful and less progressive.
The attacks on me personally have increased steadily since the New Orleans convention. For the reasons I have already given it was inevitable that this would be so. I knew what the cost would be when the civil war began and accepted it as an unpleasant but necessary by-product of the work which had to be done. During the past three years, especially since Santa Fe, I have been accused of every possible vice--of being unscrupulous and ruthless, without principle, morally dishonest, and above all of being desperately and wildly ambitious. These charges have been made not only by the recognized members of the minority faction, but also by some whose principal claim to recognition is the fact that they have previously held themselves out to the general membership as friends and supporters of the administration.
Again I say that such charges and attacks were inevitable in the climate of continuing civil war and political maneuvering. Such a climate encourages petty politicians and office seekers to attempt to bargain for position and to seek notoriety by slick maneuver and slanderous attack. Always as civil war continues, it degenerates into chaos and anarchy. Factions splinter and beget new factions, which in turn divide and further splinter. As dissolution and ruin approach, stability becomes harder and harder to maintain.
Leadership in the Federation does not depend upon the holding of office. It has never so depended. To the extent that the organization is worthwhile, leadership as always will continue to depend upon willingness to work and ability to work.
Very soon after the Santa Fe convention I told Dr. tenBroek that I felt I could serve the Federation and the administration better if I did not allow my name to be placed in nomination for office at Miami. Such a decision would certainly set the record straight with respect to the whispered charges of reckless ambition and desire for presidential succession. It would also rob the enemies of the administration of one of their principal issues--an issue in fact upon which they have based more and more of their campaign in recent months. It would utterly destroy one of the main arguments upon which the case of the dissenters has been built and by which they have sought to justify their actions. Then, too, it must be admitted frankly that the continuing torrent of personal abuse and vilification made the prospect of Federation office seem somewhat less than attractive.
The decision was made, but not announced. Why? The answer is surely obvious. What now of the charges of reckless ambition and desire for office which the opponents of the administration have so laboriously put together? During the remainder of this convention the delegates will undoubtedly be subjected (from the platform, but principally in the corridors and bedrooms) to hurried and desperate verbal gymnastics in an attempt to explain away the utter deflation of what has been charged. It will be interesting, indeed, to see how the dissenters attempt to explain away their calumny and misrepresentation.
In leaving Federation office to become a rank and file member I would like to make these final remarks. By ceasing to be an executive committeeman I do not cease to be an active Federationist. Nor do I cease to be a part of the administration. I shall continue to defend and support it actively.
Moreover, I shall continue to give whatever organizational help I can to any local or state affiliate in the nation. When I am invited to do so (and as time permits), I shall attend state conventions, write articles and testimony for the Federation, attend meetings, or do anything else which I may be asked to do.
I have already said that the Federation has very nearly been destroyed by the past three years of political bickering and civil war. It may already be too late to reverse the trend and forestall the final descent into chaos and utter destruction. However, I believe that this is not necessarily the case. It is not on a note of despair but of hope that I should like to conclude. It is no game we play--this business of organization. It is as serious and important as the lives and destinies of us all. The formula for solving our problems and saving our organization is simple. It is also painful and hard to face. It is this. One way or another, once and for all, now and forever, we absolutely must put a stop to the disgraceful internal strife and warfare which is destroying the Federation. It is as simple as that. We must make it unmistakably clear to all concerned that this organization will no longer tolerate the continued wrecking and destruction of its goals and purposes--whether the wrecking and destruction be in the name of free speech, democratic procedures, rights of the minority, freedom of association, will of the people, or any other high-sounding and respectable phraseology used to cloak real purposes. We must refuse to be intimidated or bamboozled by pious words. We must have the courage to put down the demagogue, even if he makes his appeal in the name of the very virtues in our organization which he would destroy. If it requires taking stern action, then stern action must be taken. If it requires losing some of the dissenters, then they must be lost. Whatever the cost, it is cheaper than the alternative of absolute ruin which faces us. We cannot delay, and we cannot equivocate. By not choosing one course of action, we automatically take the other.
Perhaps the old Federation was too idealistic. If so, I can only say that I believe most of its members wanted it that way, and loved and respected it for what it was. The traditional goals and objectives of the Federation are still the most compelling reason for our existence as an organization. To open new fields of opportunity to the blind, to secure the passage of needed legislation, to exchange ideas and give encouragement to each other, to labor in a common cause against discrimination and denial of acceptance as normal people, to establish the right of the blind to compete for regular jobs in public or private employment--these are the things for which the Federation was created. These are the things which continue to make it worthwhile. Surely the National Federation of the Blind means enough in the lives of the blind people of this nation that a way will be found to save it from destruction and, even more important, to save it from becoming merely a hollow shell and an empty mockery of the great crusade of former days.
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In an action of long-range importance to the Federation, the Miami convention voted into effect a substantial number of amendments to the constitution. (The full text of the amended constitution appears as an insert elsewhere in this issue of the Braille Monitor.)
The constitutional changes effectuated at Miami had been long in preparation. Two years earlier at Boston the convention, in addition to passing the "Card Amendment," rejected a resolution calling for a special constitutional convention; and the following year, at Santa Fe, substantial convention time was devoted to discussion and debate on the issue of amendments. A special constitutional committee was appointed by the president under the chairmanship of Russell Kletzing, California, with the following members: Donald Capps, Durward McDaniel, John Taylor, William Hogan, Gar Orcutt, and William Taylor.
Prior to the Miami convention the constitutional committee had received more than 30 separate resolutions dealing with constitutional matters. Of these a considerable number were put forward by the administration and members representing the majority, and numerous others by the minority McDaniel faction (which circulated its own resolutions widely throughout the country). At Miami the various proposals of the minority were consolidated by an agreement among members of the faction, and were subsequently presented to the convention as a single overall proposal, containing these features: (1) limitation of the term of officers to six years, and of executive committee members to eight years; (2) the transfer of the power of employment and dismissal of the staff from the president to the executive committee; (3) making the budget of the Federation much more rigid; (4) establishing an elected audit committee; (5) creating a highly complicated system of rotation on committees, and of appointment to committees by the state affiliates.
The executive committee had decided at its November meeting to confine convention discussion of constitutional amendments to a single morning session of four hours to be held July 4. By vote of the convention itself the plan was altered to include a special meeting on Sunday evening, July 3, in order to deal both with constitutional proposals and other internal matters. As it turned out, the other internal matters consumed the entire evening, and the constitutional debate thus took place on schedule Monday morning.
In substance the amendments adopted by the convention were:
1. The terms of office of the members of the executive committee were changed from four to two years, with all eight offices to be filled by election at Miami (four of them for two years and four for one-year terms).
2. The convention may expel, suspend, or otherwise discipline any member or affiliate for conduct inconsistent with the constitution, with the code of affiliate standards, or with policies established by the convention. Expulsion will require a two-thirds vote of the convention, and suspension or other disciplinary action a 16 majority vote. Notice of the proposed action must be given to the con- vention and to the party concerned on the day preceding the vote.
3. Officers, executive committee members, and members of the board of directors may be removed or recalled by majority vote of the convention. Again, notice of the proposed action must be given to the convention and the party concerned on the preceding day.
4. The clause defining membership in the NFB was changed. Hitherto delegations from the state affiliates were identified as members; now members-at-large and members of the state affiliates are identified as members of the NFB, all to have the same rights, privileges and responsibilities. Each state affiliate continues to have one vote. Members-at-large can hold office and serve on committees, but not vote.
5. By another change in the constitution, "delegates to the national convention shall be elected not less frequently than every two years."
6. By still another amendment, "no person receiving regular substantial financial compensation from the NFB shall be elected as an officer or an executive committee member."
7. The final constitutional amendment to be adopted provided that under procedures to be established by the executive committee, "any person denied admission by a state affiliate may be admitted as a member-at-large. Dues of members-at-large shall be one dollar per year." This amendment was designed primarily to afford member ship in the NFB to persons denied membership in the affiliates of some southern states on grounds of race. The problems with which it deals have been under discussion for a long time; they were the subject of more or less heated debate at last year's Santa Fe convention, and again at executive committee meetings. The foregoing amendment was carried by voice vote of the Miami convention; not only the northern but the southern state affiliates agreed to it, and all alike felt that it marked progress toward the solution of the problems involved.
All of the constitutional amendments adopted at Miami were approved by overwhelming majorities, as indicated by the fact that the highest negative vote on any of the amendments was seven.
When placed before the convention, the proposal of the McDaniel faction to limit the terms of officers and executive committee members was defeated by 35 to 5, with one abstention. The five states voting for the amendment were Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. The other amendments offered by the McDaniel faction were defeated by a vote of 33 to 7, with one abstention. On this ballot New York and Utah joined the five other states in the minority.
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Under the terms of the constitutional amendment approved earlier by the Miami convention, all national offices of the Federation were submitted to the delegates for election. Officers elected were: Jacobus tenBroek, president (re-elected); John Taylor, first vice president (replacing Kenneth Jernigan, who withdrew); Donald Capps, second vice president (re-elected); Russell Kletzing, secretary (replacing Alma Murphey), and Emil Arndt, treasurer (re-elected).
The four members of the executive committee elected to two-year terms were: William Hogan, Connecticut; George Burck, New Jersey; Eulasee Hardenbergh, Alabama, and Clyde Ross, Ohio. The four executive committee members elected to one-year terms were: Don Cameron, Florida; Victor Buttram, Illinois; Anita O'Shea, Massachusetts; and Ray Penix, Arkansas.
Professors Kingsley Price and T. Munford Boyd were renewed by the convention as members of the board of directors, and Dr. Isabelle Grant of California was newly elected by the convention to that rank.
The nominating committee, appointed on the first day of the convention, consisted of one representative from each state (nominated by the state affiliate). George Burck of New Jersey was appointed chairman of the nominating committee in view of his excellent performance in that capacity the year before. The committee made its selections as the result of a meeting extending over several hours on the first evening of the convention.
A new edition of "Who Are the Blind Who Lead the Blind," furnishing biographical data on all officers and executive committee members, will be prepared in the near future for distribution to Federationists.
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The NFB convention banquet on Saturday evening, July 2--an event which is annually a social climax of the meeting as well as a symbol of its serious purpose--this year departed from its traditional pattern of a major address by the president and briefer addresses by distinguished guests in order to present a celebration and review of the first twenty years of Federation history.
Brief talks on the progress and achievements of the organization during the four five-year periods since its founding in 1940 were presented by the following members: Glenn Hoffman and Frank Lugiano, reporting on the years from 1940 to 1945; George Card, the half-decade from 1945 to 1950; Kenneth Jernigan, the years of 1950 to 1955; and William Hogan, the last five years of Federation progress. Subsequently Perry Sundquist made an appearance as, in effect, a "fifth" five-year spokesman, and delivered a brief tribute to the Federation's president, Dr. tenBroek. Special recognition was also given during the ceremony to Emil Arndt, long-time treasurer of the NFB, as one of the hardy pioneers who was present at the birth of the Federation in 1940 at Wilkes-Barre.
Another highlight of banquet ceremonies was the presentation of the Newel Perry Award to Kenneth Jernigan, director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind and stalwart Federationist. The conferral of the award, which is given annually by the National Federation for distinguished service in the field of work for the blind, was made by President tenBroek in recognition of the outstanding record of achievement compiled by Ken as head of the Iowa Commission. Noting that the state program of rehabilitation services for the blind initiated under Jernigan's leadership "has rapidly gained national recognition for its excellence," Dr. tenBroek declared that the success of the Iowa Commission in expanding opportunities for blind persons and demonstrating their potential competence "has been a source of inspiration for sightless men and women throughout the country."
The Federation's president described as a "magnificent achievement" the work of the blind Iowa administrator in "creating effective new programs for the blind and revitalizing old ones" during the brief two years since his appointment as director of the state commission. He called attention to the newly completed orientation and rehabilitation center in Des Moines and to other "bold and imaginative undertakings" on the part of the Iowa Commission.
"The task of taking on a rehabilitation program which ranked last in the nation in point of accomplishment, and within two years nearly quadrupling its number of closures while vastly improving its quality, is itself a remarkable feat of creative administration and sheer hard work," Dr. tenBroek added.
In another banquet ceremony, the newest state affiliate of the NFB, Alaska, received its charter of affiliation. The engraved scroll was presented by Dr. tenBroek to Kelly Smith, first president of the Alaska Federation of the Blind.
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The NFB's annual convention, widely admired in earlier years for its serious purpose and constructive deliberations, went a long way this summer toward regaining its previous high reputation. The roster of prominent guest speakers and of substantial program matters discussed both by expert panels and by the entire convention was as impressive as any in former years. A resume of the highlights of these convention sessions is set forth in the following pages.
Among recent developments of far-reaching importance to all our members--and accordingly explored in depth by the convention--has been the pioneering study of public programs for the blind conducted by the House Subcommittee on Special Education and Rehabilitation (the "Elliott Committee"). Under the direction of Dr. Merle E. Frampton, this ground-breaking effort by Congress was carried out through eight regional workshops and public hearings extending from October, 1959, to May, 1960. At each of these meetings, at the invitation and insistence of Dr. Frampton, the NFB was an active participant and was thereby afforded a unique opportunity to demonstrate its right and competence to be actively consulted in the shaping of public policies.
The Miami convention was fortunate to count Dr. Frampton among its distinguished visiting speakers, and also to enlist his participation in intensive panel and floor discussions of the subjects covered by the Elliott Committee workshops. In his address to the convention on Saturday morning, Dr. Frampton summarized the objectives of the congressional study in terms of finding the answers to three questions: "What legislation do we have on problems of the handicapped? How are we using what we do have? And, finally, what do we need?" As a result of the subcommittee's work, he said, the answers to all three questions are now or will shortly be available in the form of separate reports. The reports will cover (1) existing 20 statutes dealing with disability, (2) an evaluation of the expenditure of grants and appropriations, and (3) a survey of public and group opinion concerning the needs of all the handicapped. Dr. Frampton also spoke at length on the bill (H. R. 12328), sponsored by Congressman Barden, which was recently introduced.
In his discussion of the Elliott Committee workshops, Dr. Frampton paid tribute to the contributions of the Federation and its affiliates, singling out President tenBroek and John Taylor for special commendation. He predicted that the organized blind, along with other handicapped groups, would receive more favorable attention from the next Congress than from "any of the previous four, due mainly to the election of younger, more vigorous and more sympathetic legislators in all parts of the country."
Dr. Frampton's address was followed by a panel discussion under the chairmanship of John Taylor. Those participating were Perry Sundquist, California; Anita O'Shea, Massachusetts; Milton Perry, Virginia; George Burck, New Jersey; Kenneth Jernigan, Iowa, and President tenBroek.
AAIB First Vice President a Guest Speaker.
In a unique and promising "exchange" of first vice presidents, the Miami convention was addressed by J. M. Woolly of the American Association of Instructors of the Blind less than a week after the AAIB, at its own biennial convention, had heard a speech by the NFB's first vice president, Kenneth Jernigan.
Mr. Woolly, who is also the administrator of the Arkansas School for the Blind, focused his address upon the means of meeting the urgent educational needs of blind children, as these have been determined by the AAIB. He cited the most pressing problems as: (1) a severe shortage of trained teachers, reflected in the fact that "the total capacity of the training centers is probably not over 100 annually, where the school population of today is such as to require twice that many"; (2) a need for research in all areas of blind education, such as orientation, mobility and travel, diagnostic procedures and instruments, low vision aids, class size, visual efficiency, and emotional disturbances in blind children; (3) the need for "more and better qualified social workers and guidance personnel"; (4) the need of vastly increased federal support to the American Printing House for the Blind to provide materials beyond minimum textbook requirements; (5) the problem of admitting to schools and adequately handling the rising population of multiple-handicapped blind children; and (6) the extension of various rehabilitation services to pre-high school levels.
The AAIB vice president pointed out that his organization had grown over less than a decade from under 800 members to a present total of 1459, and that today membership in the AAIB is open to "any persons affiliated with, or interested in, an organization engaged in the education, guidance, vocational rehabilitation or occupational placement of the blind or partially-seeing."
Sundquist Outlines Adequate Aid Program.
The distinctive category of Aid to the Blind under the federal-state public assistance program must be defended against mounting pressures for its merger with all other aided groups, according to Perry Sundquist, chief of the Division for the Blind in the California Department of Social Welfare.
Sundquist, addressing the convention on its opening day, pointed to various proposals on both national and state levels calling for combined categories and uniform treatment for various groups receiving public aid. But he recalled that "we in the Federation have long realized that the needs arising from blindness are not the same as those arising from, let us say, old age." He listed what he called the "ten essentials which must be written into the law if Aid to the Blind is to be fashioned into an effective instrument": (1) a "floor to relief" embracing needs common to all members of the aided group, supplemented by provision for individual needs above that floor; (2) the establishment of "basic rights" of blind recipients, such as the right to a fair hearing, confidentiality of records, elimination of pauper designations, the right to inspection of pertinent records, and others; (3) specialized caseloads in Aid to the Blind; (4) caseloads small enough to permit the attainment of program objectives; (5) a "zone of security" permitting retention of reasonable amounts of real and personal property by the client; (6) exempt income to encourage both self-support and self-care; (7) a separate Division for the Blind in each state agency; (8) separate rules and regulations governing the blind program; (9) a prevention-of-blindness or sight restoration program; and (10) "alert, knowledgeable organizations of the blind spea ing for the blind both on a national and a statewide basis, to continuously consult, evaluate, and represent the interests of the blind before welfare departments and boards, legislatures, and the public."
Sheltered Workshops: A Major Convention Project.
Few subjects have ever received more systematic or detailed treatment by any convention than that accorded to the issue of sheltered workshops at Miami. Several hours of the daytime program on Sunday, July 3, were given over to reports and discussion on the role of sheltered employment for the blind--past, present, and future.
First in point of presentation was President tenBroek's carefully documented survey of state statutes governing public workshops, the major portions of which were read to the convention on Sunday morning by Dr. Floyd Matson. The tenBroek report was followed by a panel discussion among the following participants: Arthur Korn, chief of the Section of Handicapped Workers' Problems in the Wages, Hours and Public Contracts Division, United States Department of Labor; Harry Spar, of the Industrial Home for the Blind at Brooklyn, New York; Seymour Brandwein, an economist with the AFL-CIO; Lupe Torrez, a former sheltered shop employee and NFB member from Oakland, California; and Dr. Matson, as moderator. A second panel discussion, consisting of the same participants with the addition of Paul Kirton, was staged in the afternoon following the presentation of a paper by Mr. Brandwein specifically addressed to "The Rights of Sheltered Shop Workers."
In his comments on the tenBroek paper, Mr. Korn maintained that the certificates of exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act widely issued to handicapped shop workers are in effect only "partial exemptions," limited in particular by the Labor Department ruling that sheltered workers must be paid rates comparable to those for similar work in competitive industry. He added that the latter requirement is "far from a dead letter," and that despite continuing problems of staff and resources it is being enforced by the Department of Labor through steadily increasing workshop inspections and visits.
While he also supported a legal provision for the establishment of competitively comparable wage rates in sheltered employment, Mr. Spar voiced vigorous opposition to the creation of any statutory minimum wage for shop workers, on the grounds both that the less productive employees could not meet such standards and that the less profitable shops would be forced to close their doors. (He stated, however, that clients in the Brooklyn workshop presently operate under what is in effect an average minimum of 80 cents per hour.) Mr. Spar also indicated his opposition to the provision of unemployment insurance, stating that such protection has little value for handicapped shop workers already eking out a marginal livelihood.
Mr. Brandwein, in his warmly applauded afternoon paper as in his earlier remarks, expressed wholehearted support for the objectives delineated in President tenBroek's paper, and asserted that progressive forces in the community, including responsible elements in the sheltered shops, should rally around them. "So long as our sights are set low, our achievements will remain low as well," he declared. With reference to comments by Mr. Spar on the difficulties of collective bargaining by sheltered workers, the AFL-CIO spokesman declared that "the problem which Mr. Spar should address himself to is how to focus collective bargaining on the things it can deal with. If he thinks that there are confidential problems lying outside the scope of bargaining, then he should argue for keeping them out. But he should not argue that collective bargaining has no role at all in any of the conditions involved in the workshop."
Both Mr. Torrez and Paul Kirton, in the course of the discussions, emphasized that the blind shop worker's point of view has too often been lost in the shuffle and statistics of workshop administration. Mr. Torrez argued forcefully that, apart from the broad denial of worker's rights and of personal dignity, the majority of sheltered shops across the nation tend by their character and traditional orientation to be destructive of the goals of self-sufficiency and independence established for the handicapped by such modern programs as vocational rehabilitation and public assistance.
OVR Chief Impresses Convention Audience.
Not the least of the eminent visitors to the 1960 convention was Louis Rives, Jr., chief of the Division of Services to the Blind of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. In his main speech Saturday morning, Mr. Rives explained at length the fiscal formula and statutory objectives which have been set forth for the federal-state rehabilitation program. He then discussed the importance of continuing research in the field of rehabilitation, listing in detail the types of projects which the OVR currently supports and inviting all persons with well-formulated and thoroughly worked out proposals to present them for consideration.
In the lively comment and interrogation from the floor which followed his presentation, Mr. Rives explained numerous phases of administration of the vocational rehabilitation program. He commented on problems surrounding the preference for blind people in vending stands; the difficulties created by vending machine competition, and problems confronted in the staffing and recruiting of rehabilitation agencies. The interest created by his talk and his subject was so great that an additional meeting was arranged at the Federation's headquarters suite, where Mr. Rives spoke once more at length to a packed room of intensely interested delegates.
Altman Talks on Unemployment Insurance and Handicapped.
A highly informative and interesting paper on an area of rapidly developing importance to the blind was presented to the convention Saturday morning by Ralph Altman, chief of the Division of Determination and Hearings, Bureau of Employment Security, Washington, D.C. In his address, entitled "Unemployment Insurance and the Physically Handicapped," Mr. Altman ranged over a wide field of judicial and administrative decisions relating to unemployment insurance for the blind and disabled, with special attention to the changing definitions of "ability to work" and "availability for work" which largely determine eligibility for program benefits. Mr. Altman noted, on the basis of a historical review of these concepts, that there is a strong trend toward liberal construction of the terms working (with some exceptions) in favor of the handicapped applicant. Thus he cited the recent finding of the Washington Commissioner of Employment Security that it is the "social responsibility" of his department to assist an out-of-work client to "realize her latent capabilities and potentialities" through adequate services of counseling, testing and training. "In essence," Mr. Altman concluded, "this would seem to mean that a handicapped claimant may and should be held eligible for benefits while he is being rehabilitated."
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At least two impending legislative victories, together with striking progress toward agency support of Federation objectives, were reported to the convention on Sunday, July 3, in the course of a lengthy review of our congressional activity conducted jointly by John Nagle, head of the NFB Washington office; John Taylor, its former head; and Tim Seward, administrative assistant to Congressman Walter Baring of Nevada, long-time friend of the NFB.
The two victories which seem presently assured are a three-year extension of the Missouri-Pennsylvania aid programs and removal of the 50-year age limitation upon eligibility for cash benefits under the social security disability insurance program. Both provisions are incorporated within an omnibus social security bill, H. R. 12580, passed by the House of Representatives in June following lengthy executive discussions in the Ways and Means Committee. Although the omnibus bill still faces approval by the Senate, the blind have already gained a preliminary victory in their long-sustained fight on behalf of the two reforms.
Under the proposed legislation, the Missouri-Pennsylvania programs will be extended three years beyond the present 1961 cutoff date. It was emphasized that this extension strengthens the prospect of a permanent solution of the Missouri-Pennsylvania problem.
An equally significant triumph for the organized blind is fore-shadowed in the House approval of an amendment removing the 50-year age barrier from the disability insurance program. The prospective reform climaxes a vigorous campaign by the Federation through such bills as those of Congressmen Anfuso and Bosch in the House and of Senators Humphrey and Javits in the upper chamber. The convention was informed that if the Senate adopts the House-approved bill without changing this provision and if the President signs it into law, it will at last be possible for all persons in covered employment who are disabled at any age to establish their eligibility for disability benefits. The elimination of this arbitrary barrier was said to signify another forward step toward the conversion of the law into a true social insurance program, in which disability claims are based on group needs rather than upon individual needs individually determined.
Plans for the strategic introduction of other Federation objectives during forthcoming Senate deliberations on the social security bill were reported by John Nagle. Despite the earlier defeat of the King bill in the House Ways and Means Committee, due primarily to vehement opposition from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, a Senate bill (S. 3449) embodying the same features has been introduced by Senator Hartke of Indiana and 15 co-sponsors. It was foreseen that the least controversial feature of the bill--the provision for an earned-income exemption increase--will be submitted to the Senate Finance Committee by Senator Hartke as an amendment to the omnibus social security bill. If the provision is rejected in committee, Nagle said, Senator Humphrey has agreed to lead a fight for it on the Senate floor. Moreover, Humphrey reportedly will also submit the Federation-sponsored disability insurance bill (S. 3067) as an amendment to the social security measure.
Meanwhile, a notable advance in the enlistment of support from several erstwhile opponents of Federation objectives was related by John Taylor. Prominent among these developments was the agreement of the American Association of Workers for the Blind and of the Blinded Veterans' Association to give active support to all provisions of the King bill--which in its broad renovation of the public assistance program has long constituted a vital phase of the NFB's legislative platform. Taylor added that the AAWB and BVA have also given their agreement to our disability insurance proposals, and that the American Foundation for the Blind--while not yet enthusiastic--has withdrawn its opposition from the King bill and some other of our legislative efforts.
"Thus for the first time in the Federation's history we have approached the establishment of a common front with these powerful and influential groups on some of the basic tenets of our program--specifically those relating to public assistance and social security," Taylor pointed out. "Moreover, we are closer to agreement in other important areas such as the minimum wage bill for sheltered shop workers, to which the same agencies and even some sheltered shop interests are no longer fundamentally opposed." Taylor attributed this precedent-making advance in cooperative relations principally to the rapid emergence of the NFB to a position of national recognition as the instrument of an organized membership determined to carry out its purposes, and to the firm leadership of George Keane, chairman of the AAWB legislative committee, and to the members of that committee.
He noted, however, that the opposition of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare to most Federation objectives--such as those of the King bill, the disability insurance reform, and the Missouri-Pennsylvania proposal --remained conspicuously in evidence during the present session of Congress and was instrumental in defeating the majority of efforts toward liberalization of welfare programs affecting the blind.
The Federation's direct testimony at various congressional hearings, however, did much to counteract the effects of the governmental agency's hostility, according to our Washington representatives. These appearances included testimony by President tenBroek on the minimum wage bill before the Labor Standards Sub-committee of the House Committee on Education and Labor; by John Nagle before the House Subcommittee on Administration of the Disability Insurance Program, and most recently by John Nagle at hearings of the Senate Finance Committee on social security. With respect to the latter hearings, Nagle reported that he had urged the committee to incorporate our residence bill (S. 3470) and our disability bill (S. 3067) into the law, but that his testimony was primarily directed toward securing acceptance of the provision increasing exempt earnings under public assistance (S. 3449, introduced by Senator Hartke). This provision, he said, would "carry on and adjust to present economic realities the work so well begun in 1950, when the original $50 exemption was written into the law."
Tim Seward assured the convention audience that, if its bills are not approved in the present session, "I have absolutely no doubt that with the advent of the 87th Congress your entire legislative program will be re-introduced by those who survive their elections. I do know for a fact that Congressman Baring will re-introduce the Right to Organize bill, the minimum wage bill for sheltered workshops, the elimination of residence requirements bill, and other legislation besides. I have also been authorized to tell you that the senior senator from Nevada, Alan Bible, will not only introduce the minimum wage bill on the Senate side but that he will cooperate fully in pressing for its enactment."
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A resolution endorsing the Federation's greeting card program of fundraising was unanimously approved by voice vote of the delegates at Miami. The resolution reads:
Resolution 60-17: "WHEREAS, for the past few years the National Federation of the Blind has made sales of greeting cards to the public under an arrangement by which boxes of cards are mailed to the public on approval; and
WHEREAS, this organization has always exercised great care to be certain at all times that the cards are of high quality, that the public receives value for its money, and that the literature accompanying the cards is representative of the highminded purposes and character of this organization; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind receives a profit from each box of cards sold for the full price of $1.25 before any of the costs of selling the cards are paid for, with the result that the organization has received sizeable amounts of badly needed revenue to carry out its purposes and programs, and
WHEREAS, this method of raising funds is fair to the public and fair to the Blind, since the purchaser receives full value for his money and the Blind gain the financial means wherewith to achieve the aims for which they have organized;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled at Miami, Florida, this fourth day of July, 1960, THAT this Convention express its strong endorsement and approval of this method of raising funds for the organization, and herewith directs the officers and executive committeemen of the National Federation of the Blind to continue the program of greeting card sales; exercising diligence at all times to ascertain that this program remains fair to the public as well as to the Blind."
(Adopted by the National Federation of the Blind Convention on July 4, 1960.)
In a related action, the convention also approved a resolution stipulating that five percent of the receipts from the sale of greeting cards, before division with the states, should be deposited in the NFB Endowment Fund.
At a pre-convention meeting of the executive committee, Mr. Bernard Gerchen, the Federation's fundraiser, had generously offered to ship greeting card packages and literature to Miami for distribution to all those present. The executive committee gladly accepted his offer, and on the opening day of the convention, July 1, the cards and literature arrived in massive quantities and were circulated among the delegates.
In another action relating to financial matters, the convention voted into effect a resolution requiring that every state affiliate receiving greeting card funds make a complete report each year of its expenditure of these and other funds, providing that a fair hearing will be given before any action is taken by the NFB against any affiliate. This resolution was in augmentation and implementation of provisions already in the code of affiliate standards, which read as follows: "Each affiliate must maintain adequate records of publicly contributed funds, and must be able to account for the expenditure of such funds in accordance with the stated purposes given in the solicitation of such funds." Again: "The moneys disbursed by the Federation to its affiliates are received on a basis of representations made to the public. It is therefore made a condition precedent to such disbursement that the affiliates make a full report to the Federation of their use of these funds and establish proper accounting procedures, the adequacy of the reports and accounting procedures to be determined by the executive committee of the Federation." Thus the convention action reinforces these requirements.
Another significant decision was made by the convention in connection with a resolution of the board of directors of the Illinois Federation of the Blind announcing its withdrawal from the NFB greeting card campaign as of January 1, 1962. The resolution stated "that the Illinois Federation does hereby withdraw from participation in the greeting card program as of January 1, 1962, and instructs the NFB to notify Federated Industries of St. Louis to discontinue the mailing of greeting cards into Illinois as of that date." The resolution indicated further that greeting card mailings in Illinois would be replaced by a state fundraising campaign, the nature of which was not yet determined. After some discussion, the convention adopted a resolution to the effect that the NFB, not the individual affiliates, will determine into which states Federation fundraising mailings will be sent. Prior to the passage of the resolution, the executive committee had adopted the policy embodied in the Federation's contract with its fundraisers stipulating that the NFB will not notify the fundraisers to discontinue mailings into any given state in normal circumstances during the pendency of the existing contract--i.e., usually a five-year period. In the unusual circumstance in which notice of withdrawal of a state is to be given by the Federation to the fundraiser, a full year's time is to be allowed the fundraiser to accomplish the change. These provisions in the contract are not superceded by the above resolution of the Miami convention, but remain in effect governing the Federation's commitment to its fundraisers.
In another financial action the convention voted to withhold from its greeting card disbursement to South Dakota the $100 which that state affiliate had earlier contributed from its greeting card money to the "Free Press." Subsequently the convention passed a resolution that any affiliate which contributes greeting card money to the "Free Press" thereby relinquishes its membership in the NFB--a fair hearing being provided the affiliate by the executive committee on the issue as to whether greeting card money was so spent.
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A notable victory for the organized blind in their continuing battle against the forces of prejudice and discrimination was reported to the convention with John Nagle's announcement of the appointment of Mrs. Bettye Powell Krause to a teaching position in the Washington, D.C., public schools.
(Monitor readers will remember the articles in the December,1959, and July,1960, issues relating the struggle of Mrs. Krause to be evaluated on her merits as a teacher rather than on stereotyped assumptions as to the limitations of blindness.)
As a result of active pressure brought to bear by the Federation along with Tim Seward and Congressman Baring, "the school authorities staged an investigation of the teaching capabilities of 30 blind people and came up with a report which not only answered the question in the negative but conjured up all of the misinformation, misconceptions, bias and ignorance so familiar to us all," Nagle declared. "However, undaunted by this medieval report, Congressman Baring, Tim and I continued our 'educational' work--with the result that Bettye Krause has now signed her teaching contract and will start on her new job in September.
"There is a moral in this story for all Federationists," John concluded: "Prejudice against the hiring of blind people may appear at first glance to be shatter-proof and beyond breaching--but time and again the Federation has demonstrated the power and the possibility of breakthrough, all the way down the line--in the civil service and private industry, in all the trades and professions of the normal community."
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The assembled delegates at the Miami convention took time from their busy schedule of program activities to give heartfelt recognition to the large number of state and local leaders of the organized blind who had passed away during the preceding year. These distinguished leaders, most of whom had earlier been memorialized by appropriate stories in the Braille Monitor, include:
Henry Rush, long-time member and leader of the Arizona Association of the Blind, member of the Arizona state legislature for several terms, a staunch and devoted defender of the organized blind movement in his state who regularly attended its state conventions, served on the Association's executive committee and was a dedicated member of its legislative committee, and was often its delegate to our national conventions.
Frank C. Baker, president of the Maine Council of the Blind, the Federation's affiliate in that state, a far-sighted and vigorous leader whose labors in behalf of the blind have inspired the sightless men and women of Maine.
Will Johnson of Alabama, well-known and widely respected leader who was president of the Birmingham Association of the Blind in the early days of the NFB when it was the affiliate in Alabama.
Tom Jantzen of Iowa, a Federation pioneer whose long and loyal service both to the NFB and to the Iowa Association of the Blind were unsurpassed anywhere, and whose 14 years of hard and constructive work on the National White Cane Week Committee were instrumental in the success of that effort.
A. M. Gleason of Arkansas, well-known and widely respected in his own state as a member of the organized blind movement and conscientious worker in its ranks.
William Nichols of Utah, president of the Utah Association of the Blind, whose warm and friendly personality as well as devoted service to the organized blind of Utah will be long remembered and greatly missed.
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Not all of the bustling activity of the 1960 NFB convention was confined to meeting halls and corridor caucuses. No less than at our previous annual conclaves, the several hundred delegates were royally hosted and richly entertained by virtue of elaborate preparations on the part of the officers and members of the Florida Federation of the Blind and their convention staff. Special thanks for tireless efforts and imaginative planning are due to Al Drake, FFB president; Jack Ray, convention chairman; Don Cameron, national executive committeeman from Tampa; Mrs. Margaret Gibbens, Dolores Gamble, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Sitt, Frank Zeller, and a "host affiliate" of others.
The social phase of the Miami meeting was initiated on convention eve, June 30, with a square dance at the Bayfront Park Auditorium, sponsored by the "Guided Missile Square Club"--reputed to be the only square dance group in the land whose officers are all blind. At the same time the Hospitality Room at the convention's New Everglades Hotel opened its doors to delegates with free orange juice, "Fountain of Youth" mineral water, and a variety of games and amusements. Friday night was the occasion of a "round dance" in the convention ballroom, complete with 14-piece orchestra and door prizes. On Saturday evening, during a breather between meetings, hundreds of delegates and their families took off for specially arranged sightseeing tours of the wilds of Florida-- including the Parrot Jungle, alligator wrestling, glassbottom boats, and other tropical exotica.
The convention banquet, described elsewhere in this issue, should be mentioned among the successful social events of the four-day gathering. On Sunday evening (and again on Monday) a night club tour of fabulous Miami Beach was staged by the convention committee. And during the entire convention an exhibit hall on the hotel mezzanine provided an impressive display of specialized equipment and mechanical aids furnished largely by the American Foundation for the Blind. The delegates and guests also found themselves periodically showered with such products of Floridian ingenuity and hospitality as coconuts, souvenir bags, maps, food for guide dogs, and other delicacies of the Old South.
Space does not permit an adequate accounting of all the recreational and social opportunities made freely available to all who attended the convention by our host affiliate in collaboration with the staff of the New Everglades, the local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and other volunteer organizations. But just as the 1960 convention at Miami was memorable for decisions made and work accomplished, it will also be long remembered for the gracious hospitality and generosity afforded to us all.
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