Appendix I

April 20, 1951

Executive Council, American Mathematical Society
Board of Governors, Mathematical Association of America


The Fisk Mathematics Department hereby requests the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America to insert into the respective bylaws of the two organizations explicit and effective protection of the rights of all members to participate fully, freely and equally in the affairs of the organizations without regard do race, creed or color. It should be stated flatly that meetings, and teas, receptions, luncheons, dinners, etc., associated with meetings, shall be held only at institutions, hotels, etc., where prior assurance is given that there will be no discrimination. In keeping with such a policy, it should also be voted that persons holding office shall not participate in any way in any meeting of the organization until they have been assured of full compliance with the letter and spirit of this bylaw, failure in this respect to be construed as resignation from office.

The adoption of such bylaws is necessary for the protection of the rights of members and of the mathematical community generally, as the episode related below will establish. It is also necessary for the growth of membership and participation among Negro mathematicians, nearly all of whom teach in Southern schools and who will need such specific assurances before they will feel inclined to participate in the work of these organizations. It would follow the lead of other professional societies which have already codified this basic policy, for example, the American Psychological Association (Am. Psychol., 5, 548 [1950]).

One of the events which demonstrate the need for such official action occurred in connection with the annual meeting of the southeastern region of the Association, March 16-17, 1951, with Peabody and Vanderbilt as hosts. The official program of the meeting announced a dinner at which the national President of the Association would be the speaker. The chairman of the Fisk department requested four reservations in a note handed personally, on March 10, to the individual specified on he announcement. On March 15, the day before the banquet, the chairman of the arrangements committee telephoned Fisk to inquire if an of the four reservations would be used by Negroes. On receiving an affirmative reply, he declared the reservations cancelled, stating that the arrangements committee would issue no tickets to Negroes.

Two of the undersigned, acting for the department, then requested the national President to act against this discrimination. He spoke to the arrangements committee chairman and then reported that the latter was determined to exclude Negroes. Thereupon our committee requested the President to withdraw from the dinner in order to avoid giving the impression that the national officers sanction or tolerate such discrimination or, if unwilling to withdraw, to make his disapproval of discrimination clear in his speech at the dinner. He felt that he could not do either, holding the view that such acts would be discourteous to his hosts.

Some further clarifying remarks may be in order. There is no state law or city ordinance which prohibits interracial dinners. Of this we have been assured by local attorneys with long experience in such matters. There is substantial precedent for such dinners, which have been held even in some local hotels, which are frequent in some churches and other semi-private dining halls and which are daily events at Fisk.

On November 6-7, 1950, Peabody and Vanderbilt were hosts to the Southern College personnel Association. This organization's banquet was nonsegregated.

The point here is not that the hotel at which the Association held its banquet discriminates against Negroes. The point is that it was up to the arrangements committee to find a place, on the campus of one of the host institutions or elsewhere, where all mathematicians could participate.

Sincerely yours,
Associate Professor
Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor
Associate Professor and Chairman