Readings for February 6

Film Clips

  • “War Comes to America” (1945), Part VII of Frank Capra’s Why We Fight (first 26 minutes only) watch
  • Excerpt from The Atomic Cafe (1982) watch


1. Newspaper Coverage of Emmett Till’s Murder (1955)

  • “Mississippi Jury Acquits 2 Accused in Youth’s Killing,” New York Times, September 24, 1955
  • “Grand Jury Case Fails to Indict Two White Men Accused in Kidnapping,” New York Times, November 10, 1955

2. Emmett Till’s Murderers Confess in Look Magazine (1956)

This story by William Bradford Huie, who interviewed Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam, was published in Look Magazine early in 1956.

Editors Note: In the long history of man’s inhumanity to man, racial conflict has produced some of the most horrible examples of brutality. The recent slaying of Emmett Till in Mississippi is a case in point. The editors of Look are convinced that they are presenting here, for the first time, the real story of that killing – the story no jury heard and no newspaper reader saw.

Disclosed here is the true account of the slaying in Mississippi of a Negro youth named Emmett Till.

Last September in Sumner, Miss., a petit jury found the youth’s admitted abductors not guilty of murder. In November, in Greenwood, a grand jury declined to indict them for kidnapping.

Of the murder trial, the Memphis Commercial Appeal said: “Evidence necessary for convicting on a murder charge was lacking.” But with truth absent, hypocrisy and myth have flourished. Now, hypocrisy can be exposed; myth dispelled. Here are the facts.

Carolyn Holloway Bryant is 21, five feet tall, weighs 103 pounds. An Irish girl, with black hair and black eyes, she is a small farmer’s daughter who, at 17, quit high school at Indianola, Miss., to marry a soldier, Roy Bryant, then 20, now 24. The couple have two boys, three and two; and they operate a store at a dusty crossroads called Money: post office, filling station and three stores clustered around a school and a gin, and set in the vast, lonely cotton patch that is the Mississippi Delta.

Carolyn and Roy Bryant are poor: no car, no TV. They live in the back of the store which Roy’s brothers helped set up when he got out of the 82nd Airborne in 1953. They sell “snuff-and-fatback” to Negro field hands on credit: and they earn little because, for one reason, the government has been giving the Negroes food they formerly bought.

Carolyn and Roy Bryant’s social life is visits to their families, to the Baptist church, and, whenever they can borrow a car, to a drive-in, with the kids sleeping in the back seat. They call Shane the best picture they ever saw.

For extra money, Carolyn tends store when Roy works outside – like truck driving for a brother. And he has many brothers. His mother had two husbands, 11 children. The first five – all boys – were “Milam children”; the next six – three boys, three girls – were “Bryant children.”

This is a lusty and devoted clan. They work, fight, vote and play as a family. The “half” in their fraternity is forgotten. For years, they have operated a chain of cottonfield stores, as well as trucks and mechanical cotton pickers. In relation to the Negroes, they are somewhat like white traders in portions of Africa today; and they are determined to resist the revolt of colored men against white rule.

On Wednesday evening, August 24, 1955, Roy was in Texas, on a brother’s truck. He had carted shrimp from New Orleans to San Antonio, proceeded to Brownsville. Carolyn was alone in the store. But back in the living quarters was her sister-in-law Juanita Milam, 27, with her two small sons and Carolyn’s two. The store was kept open till 9 on week nights, 11 on Saturday.

When her husband was away, Carolyn Bryant never slept in the store, never stayed there alone after dark. Moreover, in the Delta, no white woman ever travels country roads after dark unattended by a man.

This meant that during Roy’s absences – particularly since he had no car – there was family inconvenience. Each afternoon, a sister-in-law arrived to stay with Carolyn until closing time. Then, the two women, with their children, waited for a brother-in-law to convoy them to his home. Next morning, the sister-in-law drove Carolyn back.

Juanita Milam had driven from her home in Glendora. She had parked in front of the store to the left; and under the front seat of this car was Roy Bryant’s pistol, a .38 Colt automatic. Carolyn knew it was there. After 9, Juanita’s husband, J. W. Milam, would arrive in his pickup to shepherd them to his home for the night.

About 7:30 pm, eight young Negroes – seven boys and a girl – in a ’46 Ford had stopped outside. They included sons, grandsons and a nephew of Moses (Preacher) Wright, 64, a ’cropper. They were between 13 and 19 years old. Four were natives of the Delta and others, including the nephew, Emmett (Bobo) Till, were visiting from the Chicago area.

Bobo Till was 14 years old: born on July 25, 1941. He was stocky, muscular, weighing about 160, five feet four or five. Preacher later testified: “He looked like a man.”

Bobo’s party joined a dozen other young Negroes, including two other girls, in front of the store. Bryant had built checkerboards there. Some were playing checkers, others were wrestling and “kiddin’ about girls.”

Bobo bragged about his white girl. He showed the boys a picture of a white girl in his wallet; and to their jeers of disbelief, he boasted of success with her.

“You talkin’ mighty big, Bo,” one youth said. “There’s a pretty little white woman in the store. Since you know how to handle white girls, let’s see you go in and get a date with her?”

“You ain’t chicken, are yuh, Bo?” another youth taunted him.

Bobo had to fire or fall back. He entered the store, alone, stopped at the candy case. Carolyn was behind the counter; Bobo in front. He asked for two cents’ worth of bubble gum. She handed it to him. He squeezed her hand and said: “How about a date, baby?”

She jerked away and started for Juanita Milam. At the break between counters, Bobo jumped in front of her, perhaps caught her at the waist, and said: “You needn’t be afraid o’ me, Baby. I been with white girls before.”

At this point, a cousin ran in, grabbed Bobo and began pulling him out of the store. Carolyn now ran, not for Juanita, but out the front, and got the pistol from the Milam car.

Outside, with Bobo being ushered off by his cousins, and with Carolyn getting the gun, Bobo executed the “wolf whistle” which gave the case its name:


That was the sum of the facts on which most newspaper readers based an opinion.

The Negroes drove away; and Carolyn, shaken, told Juanita. The two women determined to keep the incident from their “Men-folks.” They didn’t tell J. W. Milam when he came to escort them home.

By Thursday afternoon, Carolyn Bryant could see the story was getting around. She spent Thursday night at the Milams, where at 4 a.m. (Friday) Roy got back from Texas. Since he had slept little for five nights, he went to bed at the Milams’ while Carolyn returned to the store.

During Friday afternoon, Roy reached the store, and shortly thereafter a Negro told him what “the talk” was, and told him that the “Chicago boy” was “visitin’ Preacher.” Carolyn then told Roy what had happened.

Once Roy Bryant knew, in his environment, in the opinion of most white people around him, for him to have done nothing would have marked him for a coward and a fool.

On Friday night, he couldn’t do anything. He and Carolyn were alone, and he had no car. Saturday was collection day, their busy day in the store. About 10:30 Saturday night, J. W. Milam drove by. Roy took him aside.

“I want you to come over early in the morning,” he said. “I need a little transportation.”

J.W. protested: “Sunday’s the only morning I can sleep. Can’t we make it around noon?”

Roy then told him.

“I’ll be there,” he said. “Early.”

J. W. drove to another brother’s store at Minter City, where he was working. He closed that store about 12:30 a.m., drove home to Glendora. Juanita was away, visiting her folks at Greenville. J. W. had been thinking. He decided not to go to bed. He pumped the pickup – a half-ton ’55 Chevrolet – full of gas and headed for Money.

J. W. “Big Milam” is 36: six feet two, 235 pounds; an extrovert. Short boots accentuate his height; khaki trousers; red sports shirt; sun helmet. Dark-visaged; his lower lip curls when he chuckles; and though bald, his remaining hair is jet-black.

He is slavery’s plantation overseer. Today, he rents Negro-driven mechanical cotton pickers to plantation owners. Those who know him say that he can handle Negroes better than anybody in the country.

Big Milam soldiered in the Patton manner. With a ninth-grade education, he was commissioned in battle by the 75th Division. He was an expert platoon leader, expert street fighter, expert in night patrol, expert with the “grease gun,” with every device for close range killing. A German bullet tore clear through his chest; his body bears “multiple shrapnel wounds.” Of his medals, he cherishes one: combat infantryman’s badge.

Big Milam, like many soldiers, brought home his favorite gun: the .45 Colt automatic pistol.

“Best weapon the Army’s got,” he says. “Either for shootin’ or sluggin’.”

Two hours after Big Milam got the word – the instant minute he could close the store – he was looking for the Chicago Negro.

Big Milam reached Money a few minutes shy of 2 a.m., Sunday, August 28. The Bryants were asleep; the store was dark but for the all-night light. He rapped at the back door, and when Roy came, he said: “Let’s go. Let’s make that trip now.”

Roy dressed, brought a gun: this one was a .45 Colt. Both men were and remained – cold sober. Big Milam had drunk a beer at Minter City around 9; Roy had had nothing.

There was no moon as they drove to Preacher’s house: 2.8 miles east of Money.

Preacher’s house stands 50 feet right of the gravel road, with cedar and persimmon trees in the yard. Big Milam drove the pickup in under the trees. He was bareheaded, carrying a five-cell flashlight in his left hand, the .45 in the right.

Roy Bryant pounded on the door.

Preacher: “Who’s that?”

Bryant: “Mr. Bryant from Money, Preacher.”

Preacher: “All right, sir. Just a minute.”

Preacher came out of the screened-in porch.

Bryant: “Preacher, you got a boy from Chicago here?”

Preacher: “Yessir.”

Bryant: “I want to talk to him.”

Preacher: “Yessir. I’ll get him.”

Preacher led them to a back bedroom where four youths were sleeping in two beds. In one was Bobo Till and Simeon Wright, Preacher’s youngest son. Bryant had told Preacher to turn on the lights; Preacher had said they were out of order. So only the flashlight was used.

The visit was not a complete surprise. Preacher testified that he had heard of the “trouble,” that he “sho’ had” talked to his nephew about it. Bobo himself had been afraid; he had wanted to go home the day after the incident. The Negro girl in the party urged that he leave. “They’ll kill him,” she had warned. But Preacher’s wife, Elizabeth Wright, had decided that the danger was being magnified; she had urged Bobo to “finish yo’ visit.”

“I thought they might say something to him, but I didn’t think they’d kill a boy,” Preacher said.

Big Milam shined the light in Bobo’s face, said: “You the nigger who did the talking?”

“Yeah,” Bobo replied.

Milam: “Don’t say, ‘Yeah’ to me: I’ll blow your head off. Get your clothes on.”

Bobo had been sleeping in his shorts. He pulled on a shirt and trousers, then reached for his socks.

“Just the shoes,” Milam hurried him.

“I don’t wear shoes without socks,” Bobo said: and he kept the gun-bearers waiting while he put on his socks, then a pair of canvas shoes with thick crepe soles.

Preacher and his wife tried two arguments in the boy’s behalf.

“He ain’t got good sense,” Preacher begged. “He didn’t know what he was doing. Don’t take him.”

“I’ll pay you gentlemen for the damages,” Elizabeth Wright said.

“You niggers go back to sleep,” Milam replied.

They marched him into the yard, told him to get in the back of the pickup and lie down. He obeyed. They drove toward Money.

Elizabeth Wright rushed to the home of a white neighbor, who got up, looked around, but decided he could do nothing. Then, she and Preacher drove to the home of her brother, Crosby Smith, at Sumner; and Crosby Smith, on Sunday morning, went to the sheriff’s office at Greenwood.

The other young Negroes stayed at Preacher’s house until daylight, when Wheeler Parker telephoned his mother in Chicago, who in turn notified Bobo’s mother, Mamie Bradley, 33, 6427 S. St. Lawrence.

Had there been any doubt as to the identity of the “Chicago boy who done the talking,” Milam and Bryant would have stopped at the store for Carolyn to identify him. But there had been no denial. So they didn’t stop at the store. At Money, they crossed the Tallahatchie River and drove west.

Their intention was to “just whip him… and scare some sense into him.” And for this chore, Big Milam knew “the scariest place in the Delta.” He had come upon it last year hunting wild geese. Over close to Rosedale, the Big River bends around under a bluff. “Brother, she’s a 100-foot sheer drop, and she’s a 100 feet deep after you hit.”

Big Milam’s idea was to stand him up there on that bluff, “whip” him with the .45, and then shine the light on down there toward that water and make him think you’re gonna knock him in.

“Brother, if that won’t scare the Chicago ——-, hell won’t.”

Searching for this bluff, they drove close to 75 miles. Through Shellmound, Schlater, Doddsville, Ruleville, Cleveland to the intersection south of Rosedale. There they turned south on Mississippi No. 1, toward the entrance to Beulah Lake. They tried several dirt and gravel roads, drove along the levee. Finally, they gave up: in the darkness, Big Milam couldn’t find his bluff.

They drove back to Milam’s house at Glendora, and by now it was 5 a.m.. They had been driving nearly three hours, with Milam and Bryant in the cab and Bobo lying in the back.

At some point when the truck slowed down, why hadn’t Bobo jumped and run? He wasn’t tied; nobody was holding him. A partial answer is that those Chevrolet pickups have a wraparound rear window the size of a windshield. Bryant could watch him. But the real answer is the remarkable part of the story.

Bobo wasn’t afraid of them! He was tough as they were. He didn’t think they had the guts to kill him.

Milam: “We were never able to scare him. They had just filled him so full of that poison that he was hopeless.”

Back of Milam’s home is a tool house, with two rooms each about 12 feet square. They took him in there and began “whipping” him, first Milam then Bryant smashing him across the head with those .45’s. Pistol-whipping: a court-martial offense in the Army… but MP’s have been known to do it…. And Milam got information out of German prisoners this way.

But under these blows Bobo never hollered – and he kept making the perfect speeches to insure martyrdom.

Bobo: “You bastards, I’m not afraid of you. I’m as good as you are. I’ve ‘had’ white women. My grandmother was a white woman.”

Milam: “Well, what else could we do? He was hopeless. I’m no bully; I never hurt a nigger in my life. I like niggers – in their place – I know how to work ‘em. But I just decided it was time a few people got put on notice. As long as I live and can do anything about it, niggers are gonna stay in their place. Niggers ain’t gonna vote where I live. If they did, they’d control the government. They ain’t gonna go to school with my kids. And when a nigger gets close to mentioning sex with a white woman, he’s tired o’ livin’. I’m likely to kill him. Me and my folks fought for this country, and we got some rights. I stood there in that shed and listened to that nigger throw that poison at me, and I just made up my mind. ‘Chicago boy,’ I said, ‘I’m tired of ’em sending your kind down here to stir up trouble. Goddam you, I’m going to make an example of you – just so everybody can know how me and my folks stand.’”

So Big Milam decided to act. He needed a weight. He tried to think of where he could get an anvil. Then he remembered a gin which had installed new equipment. He had seen two men lifting a discarded fan, a metal fan three feet high and circular, used in ginning cotton.

Bobo wasn’t bleeding much. Pistol-whipping bruises more than it cuts. They ordered him back in the truck and headed west again. They passed through Doddsville, went into the Progressive Ginning Company. This gin is 3.4 miles east of Boyle: Boyle is two miles south of Cleveland. The road to this gin turns left off U.S. 61, after you cross the bayou bridge south of Boyle.

Milam: “When we got to that gin, it was daylight, and I was worried for the first time. Somebody might see us and accuse us of stealing the fan.”

Bryant and Big Milam stood aside while Bobo loaded the fan. Weight: 74 pounds. The youth still thought they were bluffing.

They drove back to Glendora, then north toward Swan Lake and crossed the “new bridge” over the Tallahatchie. At the east end of this bridge, they turned right, along a dirt road which parallels the river. After about two miles, they crossed the property of L.W. Boyce, passing near his house.

About 1.5 miles southeast of the Boyce home is a lonely spot where Big Milam has hunted squirrels. The river bank is steep. The truck stopped 30 yards from the water.

Big Milam ordered Bobo to pick up the fan.

He staggered under its weight… carried it to the river bank. They stood silently… just hating one another.

Milam: “Take off your clothes.”

Slowly, Bobo pulled off his shoes, his socks. He stood up, unbuttoned his shirt, dropped his pants, his shorts.

He stood there naked.

It was Sunday morning, a little before 7.

Milam: “You still as good as I am?”

Bobo: “Yeah.”

Milam: “You still ‘had’ white women?”

Bobo: “Yeah.”

That big .45 jumped in Big Milam’s hand. The youth turned to catch that big, expanding bullet at his right ear. He dropped.

They barb-wired the gin fan to his neck, rolled him into 20 feet of water.

For three hours that morning, there was a fire in Big Milam’s back yard: Bobo’s crepe soled shoes were hard to burn.

Seventy-two hours later – eight miles downstream – boys were fishing. They saw feet sticking out of the water. Bobo.

The majority – by no means all, but the majority – of the white people in Mississippi 1) either approve Big Milam’s action or else 2) they don’t disapprove enough to risk giving their “enemies” the satisfaction of a conviction.


3. NSC-68: U.S. Objectives and Programs for National Security (1950)

This Top Secret document prepared for the President by the National Security Council foretold much of the nation’s foreign policy during the Cold War.

Within the past thirty-five years the world has experienced two global wars of tremendous violence. It has witnessed two revolutions–the Russian and the Chinese–of extreme scope and intensity. It has also seen the collapse of five empires–the Ottoman, the Austro-Hungarian, German, Italian, and Japanese–and the drastic decline of two major imperial systems, the British and the French. During the span of one generation, the international distribution of power has been fundamentally altered. For several centuries it had proved impossible for any one nation to gain such preponderant strength that a coalition of other nations could not in time face it with greater strength. The international scene was marked by recurring periods of violence and war, but a system of sovereign and independent states was maintained, over which no state was able to achieve hegemony.

Two complex sets of factors have now basically altered this historic distribution of power. First, the defeat of Germany and Japan and the decline of the British and French Empires have interacted with the development of the United States and the Soviet Union in such a way that power increasingly gravitated to these two centers. Second, the Soviet Union, unlike previous aspirants to hegemony, is animated by a new fanatic faith, anti-thetical to our own, and seeks to impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world. Conflict has, therefore, become endemic and is waged, on the part of the Soviet Union, by violent or non-violent methods in accordance with the dictates of expediency. With the development of increasingly terrifying weapons of mass destruction, every individual faces the ever-present possibility of annihilation should the conflict enter the phase of total war.

On the one hand, the people of the world yearn for relief from the anxiety arising from the risk of atomic war. On the other hand, any substantial further extension of the area under the domination of the Kremlin would raise the possibility that no coalition adequate to confront the Kremlin with greater strength could be assembled. It is in this context that this Republic and its citizens in the ascendancy of their strength stand in their deepest peril.

The issues that face us are momentous, involving the fulfillment or destruction not only of this Republic but of civilization itself. They are issues which will not await our deliberations. With conscience and resolution this Government and the people it represents must now take new and fateful decisions. …

The Kremlin regards the United States as the only major threat to the conflict between idea of slavery under the grim oligarchy of the Kremlin, which has come to a crisis with the polarization of power described in Section I, and the exclusive possession of atomic weapons by the two protagonists. The idea of freedom, moreover, is peculiarly and intolerably subversive of the idea of slavery. But the converse is not true. The implacable purpose of the slave state to eliminate the challenge of freedom has placed the two great powers at opposite poles. It is this fact which gives the present polarization of power the quality of crisis.

The free society values the individual as an end in himself, requiring of him only that measure of self-discipline and self-restraint which make the rights of each individual compatible with the rights of every other individual. The freedom of the individual has as its counterpart, therefore, the negative responsibility of the individual not to exercise his freedom in ways inconsistent with the freedom of other individuals and the positive responsibility to make constructive use of his freedom in the building of a just society.

From this idea of freedom with responsibility derives the marvelous diversity, the deep tolerance, the lawfulness of the free society. This is the explanation of the strength of free men. It constitutes the integrity and the vitality of a free and democratic system. The free society attempts to create and maintain an environment in which every individual has the opportunity to realize his creative powers. It also explains why the free society tolerates those within it who would use their freedom to destroy it. By the same token, in relations between nations, the prime reliance of the free society is on the strength and appeal of its idea, and it feels no compulsion sooner or later to bring all societies into conformity with it.

For the free society does not fear, it welcomes, diversity. It derives its strength from its hospitality even to antipathetic ideas. It is a market for free trade in ideas, secure in its faith that free men will take the best wares, and grow to a fuller and better realization of their powers in exercising their choice.

The idea of freedom is the most contagious idea in history, more contagious than the idea of submission to authority. For the breadth of freedom cannot be tolerated in a society which has come under the domination of an individual or group of individuals with a will to absolute power. Where the despot holds absolute power–the absolute power of the absolutely powerful will–all other wills must be subjugated in an act of willing submission, a degradation willed by the individual upon himself under the compulsion of a perverted faith. It is the first article of this faith that he finds and can only find the meaning of his existence in serving the ends of the system. The system becomes God, and submission to the will of God becomes submission to the will of the system. It is not enough to yield outwardly to the system–even Gandhian non-violence is not acceptable–for the spirit of resistance and the devotion to a higher authority might then remain, and the individual would not be wholly submissive.

The same compulsion which demands total power over all men within the Soviet state without a single exception, demands total power over all Communist Parties and all states under Soviet domination. Thus Stalin has said that the theory and tactics of Leninism as expounded by the Bolshevik party are mandatory for the proletarian parties of all countries. A true internationalist is defined as one who unhesitatingly upholds the position of the Soviet Union and in the satellite states true patriotism is love of the Soviet Union. By the same token the “peace policy” of the Soviet Union, described at a Party Congress as “a more advantageous form of fighting capitalism,” is a device to divide and immobilize the non-Communist world, and the peace the Soviet Union seeks is the peace of total conformity to Soviet policy.

The antipathy of slavery to freedom explains the iron curtain, the isolation, the autarchy of the society whose end is absolute power. The existence and persistence of the idea of freedom is a permanent and continuous threat to the foundation of the slave society; and it therefore regards as intolerable the long continued existence of freedom in the world. What is new, what makes the continuing crisis, is the polarization of power which now inescapably confronts the slave society with the free.

The assault on free institutions is world-wide now, and in the context of the present polarization of power a defeat of free institutions anywhere is a defeat everywhere. The shock we sustained in the destruction of Czechoslovakia was not in the measure of Czechoslovakia’s material importance to us. In a material sense, her capabilities were already at Soviet disposal. But when the integrity of Czechoslovak institutions was destroyed, it was in the intangible scale of values that we registered a loss more damaging than the material loss we had already suffered.

Thus unwillingly our free society finds itself mortally challenged by the Soviet system. No other value system is so wholly irreconcilable with ours, so implacable in its purpose to destroy ours, so capable of turning to its own uses the most dangerous and divisive trends in our own society, no other so skillfully and powerfully evokes the elements of irrationality in human nature everywhere, and no other has the support of a great and growing center of military power. …

A more rapid build-up of political, economic, and military strength and thereby of confidence in the free world than is now contemplated is the only course which is consistent with progress toward achieving our fundamental purpose. The frustration of the Kremlin design requires the free world to develop a successfully functioning political and economic system and a vigorous political offensive against the Soviet Union. These, in turn, require an adequate military shield under which they can develop. It is necessary to have the military power to deter, if possible, Soviet expansion, and to defeat, if necessary, aggressive Soviet or Soviet-directed actions of a limited or total character. The potential strength of the free world is great; its ability to develop these military capabilities and its will to resist Soviet expansion will be determined by the wisdom and will with which it undertakes to meet its political and economic problems.


4. Testimony of William M. Gaines before Congress (1954)

In 1954, the Senate held Subcommittee Hearings into Juvenile Delinquency. In these televised proceedings, Congressmen questioned many leaders of the comic book industry, including William M. Gaines.

The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed in your own manner.

Mr. GAINES. Gentlemen, I would like to make a short statement. I am here as an individual publisher.

Mr. HANNOCH. Will you give your name and address, for the record?

Mr. GAINES. My name is William Gaines. My business address is 225 Lafayette Street, New York City. I am a publisher of the Entertaining Comics Group.

I am a graduate of the school of education of New York University. I have the qualifications to teach in secondary schools, high schools.

What then am I doing before this committee? I am a comic-book publisher. My group is known as EC, Entertaining Comics.

I am here as a voluntary witness. I asked for and was given this chance to be heard. …

My father before me was proud of the comics he published. My father saw in the comic book a vast field of visual education. He was a pioneer.

Sometimes he was ahead of his time. He published Picture Stories from Science, Picture Stories from World History, and Picture Stories from American History.

He published Picture Stories from the Bible.

I would like to offer these in evidence.

The CHAIRMAN. They will be received for the subcommittee’s permanent files. Let that be exhibit No. 11.

(The documents referred to were marked “Exhibit No. 11,”, and are on file with the subcommittee)

Mr. GAINES. Since 1942 we have sold more than 5 million copies of Picture Stories from the Bible, in the United States. It is widely used by churches and schools to make religion more real and vivid.

Picture Stories from the Bible is published throughout the world in dozens of translations. But it is nothing more nor nothing less than a comic magazine.

I publish comic magazines in addition to picture stories from the Bible. For example, I publish horror comics. I was the first publisher in these United States to publish horror comics. I am responsible, I started them.

Some may not like them. That is a matter of personal taste. …

Our American children are for the most part normal children. They are bright children, but those who want to prohibit comic magazines seem to see dirty, sneaky, perverted monsters who use the comics as a blueprint for action. …

Perverted little monsters are few and far between. They don’t read comics. The chances are most of them are in schools for retarded children.

What are we afraid of? Are we afraid of our own children? Do we forget that they are citizens, too, and entitled to select what to read or do? We think our children are so evil, simple minded, that it takes a story of murder to set them to murder, a story of robbery to set them to robbery? …

As has already been pointed out by previous testimony, a little healthy, normal child has never been made worse for reading comic magazines. …

No one has to read a comic book to read horror stories.

Anyone, any child, any adult, can find, much more extreme descriptions of violence in the daily newspaper. You can find plenty of examples in today’s newspaper. …

We print our crime news. We don’t think that the crime news or any news should be banned because it is bad for children.

Once you start to censor you must censor everything. You must censor comic books, radio, television, and newspapers.

Then you must censor what people may say. Then you will have turned this country into Spain or Russia. …

Mr. BEASER. A message can be gotten across without spelling out in that detail. For example, take this case that was presented this morning of the child who is in a foster home who became a werewolf, and foster parents—

Mr. GAINES. That was one of our stories.

Mr. BEASER. A child who killed her mother. Do you think that would have any effect at all on a child who is in a foster placement, who is with foster parents, who has fears? Do you not think that child in reading the story would have some of the normal fears which a child has, some of the normal desires tightened, increased?

Mr. GAINES. I honestly can say I don’t think so. No message has been spelled out there. We were not trying to prove anything with that story. None of the captions said anything like “If you are unhappy with your step mother, shoot her.”

Mr. BEASER. No, but here you have a child who is in a foster home who has been treated very well, who has fears and doubts about the foster parent. The child would normally identify herself in this case with a child in a similar situation and there a child in a similar situation turns out to have foster parents who became werewolves.

Do you not think that would increase the child’s anxiety?

Mr. GAINES. Most foster children, I am sure, are not in homes such as were described in those stories. Those were pretty miserable homes.

Mr. HANNOCH. You mean the houses that had vampires in them, those were not nice homes?

Mr. GAINES. Yes.

Mr. HANNOCH. Do you know any place where there is any such thing?

Mr. GAINES. As vampires?


Mr. GAINES. No, sir; this is fantasy. The point I am trying to make is that I am sure no foster children are kept locked up in their room for months on end except in those rare cases that you hear about where there is something wrong with the parents such as the foster child in one of these stories was, and on the other hand, I am sure that no foster child finds himself with a drunken father and a mother who is having an affair with someone else.

Mr. BEASER. Yet you do hear of the fact that an awful lot of delinquency comes from homes that are broken. You hear of drunkenness in those same homes.

Do you not think those children who read those comics identify themselves with the poor home situation, with maybe the drunken father or mother who is going out, and identify themselves and see themselves portrayed there?

Mr. GAINES. It has been my experience in writing these stories for the last 6 or 7 years that whenever we have tested them out on kids, or teen-agers, or adults, no one ever associates himself with someone who is going to be put upon. They always associate themselves with the one who is doing the putting upon.

The CHAIRMAN.You do test them out on children, do you?

Mr. GAINES. Yes.

Mr. BEASER. How do you do that?

Senator HENNINGS. Is that one of your series, the pictures of the two in the electric chair, the little girl down in the corner?

[Click for the cover.]

Mr. GAINES. Yes.

Senator HENNINGS. As we understood from what we heard of that story, the little girl is not being put upon there, is she? She is triumphant apparently, that is insofar as we heard the relation of the story this morning.

Mr. GAINES. If I may explain, the readers does not know that until the last panel, which is one of the things we try to do in our stories, is have an O. Henry ending for each story.

Senator HENNINGS. I understood you to use the phrase “put upon,” and that there was no reader identification—with one who was put upon, but the converse.

Mr. GAINES. That is right, sir.

Senator HENNINGS. Now, in that one, what would be your judgment or conclusion as to the identification of the reader with that little girl who has, to use the phrase, framed her mother and shot her father?

Mr. GAINES. In that story, if you read it from the beginning, because you can’t pull things out of context—

Senator HENNINGS. That is right, you cannot do that.

Mr. GAINES. You will see that a child leads a miserable life in the 6 or 7 pages. It is only on the last page she emerges triumphant.

Senator HENNINGS. As a result of murder and perjury, she emerges as triumphant?

Mr. GAINES. That is right.

Mr. HANNOCH. Is that the O. Henry finish?

Mr. GAINES. Yes.

Mr. HANNOCH. In other words, everybody reading that would think this girl would go to jail. So the O. Henry finish changes that, makes her a wonderful looking girl?

Mr. GAINES. No one knows she did it until the last panel.

Mr. HANNOCH. You think it does them a lot of good to read these things?

Mr. GAINES. I don’t think it does them a bit of good, but I don’t think it does them a bit of harm, either. …

Senator KEFAUVER. Here is your May 22 issue. This seems to be a man with a bloody ax holding a woman’s head up which has been severed from her body. Do you think that is in good taste?

[Click for the cover.]

Mr. GAINES. Yes, sir; I do, for the cover of a horror comic. A cover in bad taste, for example, might be defined as holding the head a little higher so that the neck could be seen dripping blood from it and moving the body over a little further so that the neck of the body could be seen to be bloody.

Senator KEFAUVER. You have blood coming out of her mouth.

Mr. GAINES. A little.

Senator KEFAUVER. Here is blood on the ax. I think most adults are shocked by that.

The CHAIRMAN. Here is another one I want to show him.

Senator KEFAUVER. This is the July one. It seems to be a man with a woman in a boat and he is choking her to death here with a crowbar. Is that in good taste?

[Click for the cover.]

Mr. GAINES. I think so. …

Senator KEFAUVER. I notice in this edition of May 14 the one in which you have the greasy Mexican the first page has apparently two shootings going on at the same time here, then on the next page is an advertisement for young people to send a dollar in and get the Panic for the next 8 issues. Is that not right?

Mr. GAINES. That is right.

Senator KEFAUVER. This says the editors of Panic, 225 Lafayette Street. That is you?

Mr. GAINES. That is right.

Senator KEFAUVER. Then the attraction here is “I dreamed I went to a fraternity smoker in my Panic magazine,” you have dice on the floor and cigarettes, somebody getting beer out, somebody laying on his back taking a drink, Do you think that is all right?

Mr. GAINES. This is an advertisement for one of my lampoon magazines. This is a lampoon of the Maiden-Form brassiere ad, I dreamed I went to so-and-so in my Maiden-Form brassiere, which has appeared in the last 6 years in national family magazines showing girls leaping through the air in brassieres and panties.

We simply lampoon by saying “I dreamed I went to a panic smoker in my Panic magazine.”

Senator KEFAUVER. I mean, do you like to portray a fraternity smoker like that?

Mr. GAINES. This is a lampoon magazine. We make fun of things.

The CHAIRMAN. You think that is in good taste?

Mr. GAINES. Yes, sir. …

Mr. HANNOCH. Do you know anything about this sheet called, “Are you a Red dupe?”

Mr. GAINES. Yes, sir I wrote it.

Mr. HANNOCH. How has it been distributed?

Mr. GAINES. It has not been distributed. It is going to be the inside front cover ad on five of my comic magazines which are forth-coming.

Mr. HANNOCH. And it is going to be an advertisement?

Mr. GAINES. Not an advertisement. It is an editorial.

Mr. HANNOCH. Do other magazines have copies of this to be used for the same purpose?

Mr. GAINES. No, Sir.

Mr. HANNOCH. You haven’t made this available to the magazines as yet?

Mr. GAINES. No, sir; and I don’t intend to.

Mr. HANNOCH. You believe the things that you say in this ad that you wrote?

Mr. GAINES. Yes, sir.

Mr. HANNOCH. That anybody who is anxious to destroy comics are Communists?

Mr. GAINES. I don’t believe it says that.

Mr. HANNOCH. The group most anxious to destroy comics are the Conimunists?

Mr. GAINES. True, but not anybody, just the group most anxious. …


5. The League of Women Voters Outlines Policy (1947)

From “The Status of Women; Need for a National Policy,” 1 April 1947, Folder: Individual Liberties/Equal Rights, Box 45, League of Women Voters of Iowa papers, Iowa Women’s Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

What place should women occupy in our nation? Almost a century ago at Seneca Falls, New York, a small but determined group of women held a Woman’s Rights Convention which proved to be the beginning of a great social movement. Lucretia Mott, a quiet-spoken Quakeress with a penetrating intelligence, her sister, Martha C. Wright, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Mary Ann McClintock called the Convention and presented, in a manner of the Declaration of Independence, a “Declaration of Sentiments.” …

The achievements of women in the hundred years of American history since 1848 have been great. Partly, women have improved their position through gaining improvements in laws and through gaining and exercising citizenship. Partly, they have gained new opportunity and stature as persons through a gradual increase of enlightenment.

Women in the United States today occupy a high place. Legally and politically they have gained most of the important privileges and responsibilities men possess.They are making progress point by point against remaining discriminations. Sixteen states still do not permit women to serve on juries. A few states deny to women the right of domicile if that state is not the legal residence of her husband. Some states deny to women the guardianship of their children. In a few states husbands exercise certain controls over their wives’ earnings. Such readily recognized remnants of discrimination need to be removed.

Socially and economically women have still a long way to go to equal man’s position. On the whole boys receive more education, and are accorded more vocational concern. Men still receive higher pay for similar work. The family’s place of residence, and in large part the character of family living are determined by the father’s objectives. It is not easy to change these social and economic habits by laws.

In a few respects women enjoy a position superior to that of men. Widows’ pensions, alimony following divorce, and various laws protecting a wife’s property are examples of legal assets to women. That women are still to some extent provided for and protected by men is a social and economic fact which most women admit, although some women disagree as to its desirability. …


In the early years of the movement for women’s rights discriminations were so obvious that the demand for “equal rights” which had been voiced at Seneca Falls was readily understood. Women wanted an opportunity for education, for choice of work, for the management of their own affairs.Gradually the problem became complicated by the interpretation of the word “equal. Since men and women are not identical (not”fungible" as the Supreme Court has said) the question arose: “What is equal?” How can men and women, in some respects similar, in some respects dissimilar be treated equally? To treat them identically is not necessarily to treat them equally.

The problem could only be solved by treating men and women alike in whatever respects they were alike and by allowing for differences where they differed.The Nineteenth Amendment providing for national suffrage established one great fact. Women had the intelligence and the competence to be full citizens. Their concern was as great and their consent as important in a democracy as that of the men. But suffrage did not mean that laws should not allow for differences between men and women. Laws favoring women as members of a family have always been held justified by society as a whole. The husband is, for example, primarily responsible for family support.Such laws are logical as long as the role of wife and mother in our society interrupts or impedes the woman’s opportunity to develop or maintain her own earning power. In physical structure, in biological and social functions, women differ from men. Society has always considered these differences in the making of laws and its application, and must continue to do so.


When women began to assume responsibilities in the business and industrial world they did not have the same bargaining power as men. As a result they have often worked for low wages, which by undercutting men’s wages tended to lower the wage scale for everyone. Because of their lack of power to bargain they were forced to work under conditions which tended to undermine their health and to lower their contribution to society in general. To remedy the situation it seemed wise to pass special labor laws establishing maximum hours of work, minimum wages, and healthful conditions of work for women. Most states have such laws. Because women in our society have a role of great importance as mothers and homemakers these “protective laws” for women are in the general welfare. They are important to all of us.


What are some of the factors which have led the League of Women Voters and other organizations to believe that a re-thinking of the status of women would be valuable at this time? The studies by scientists of the growth and development of the human being have progressed rapidly in the last few decades. From such study have come more dependable measurements of the differences between men and women. For example, the scientists now confirm the common sense knowledge that the human male reaches maturity several years later than the human female. Such scientific findings provide a basis for re-evaluating our laws about age of marriage. There are also new findings by psychologists and sociologists which should be considered. The importance of the family and the role of mother-homemaker are significant factors about which our social scientists have impressive data and which should be taken into account as we consider legislation. …


The proposed Bill on The Status of Women which the League of Women Voters is supporting with some forty other women’s organizations would do four things.

  1. Declare a Policy. It would declare it to be a policy of the U.S. that in law and its administration no distinctions on the basis of sex shall be made except such as are reasonably justified by difference in physical structure, biological, or social function.

  2. Require Immediate Conformity with the Policy. So far as permitted by existing legislation, the bill would require all federal agencies to review their current practices and conform them to the new policy.

  3. Establish a Commission on the Status of Women. It would provide a Presidentially appointed commission of nine members to: (a) study and review the economic, civil, political, and social status of women and the extent of discriminations based on sex, (b) recommend legislation necessary to bring the laws and government practices of the U.S. into conformity with the declared policy. The findings of such a Commission could become a great landmark in the history of the United States. Its work would have great effect upon the work of the U.N. Commission on Women and hence upon the progress of women throughout the world.

The Commission would dig into the facts. It would define distinctions based on differences in sex before defining discrimination based on sex. It would trace the development of sex discrimination. (The wording of the bill allows for studying discrimination against men too!) It would describe accurately the kinds and amounts of discrimination existing in the U.S. today. The new bill proposes to point up the facts in the same way as the President’s Committee on Economic Security did before the Social Security Act was written or as the White House Conference on Child Welfare did before child welfare legislation was framed. …

  1. Urge the States to Declare a Policy. A good federal example would be set by the bill. Therefore, it is fitting that it should urge the states to declare a similar policy, to review their laws and practices and bring them into conformity with the policy. Laws concerning marriage and family and pertaining to property (in which most discriminations reside) are largely state laws. The same organizations which are working for the passage of the federal bill on the Status of Women will work for improved state laws. …


For many years some women have urged the passage of a Constitutional amendment saying that men and women in the United States should have equal rights. The problem is not as simple as that. Saying that men and women shall be equal will not make them equal. The words “equal rights” are impressive, but no one can possibly know what they would mean in a Constitutional amendment. Only a long series of legal cases could begin to arrive at some more precise definitions of the term. We have on our law books now hundreds of laws affecting women.They are specific laws about specific problems. As has been said by Paul Freund, professor of law at Harvard University, “The basic fallacy in the proposed amendment is that it attempts to deal with complicated and highly concrete problems arising out of a diversity of human relationships in terms of a single and simple abstraction.”

The organizations supporting the bill on the status of women believe that the whole problem of discrimination needs to be reviewed and positive and specific legislative action needs to be taken point by point. Those supporting the “Equal Rights” Amendment want a Constitutional declaration of a sweeping principle. Hundreds of current laws would be thrown into question. It would open up a period of extreme confusion in constitutional law. Even if the amendment should be passed and ratified, specific legislation would be needed to put it into effect. In the process there would be great danger that the federal government would step into additional fields which have always been the responsibility of the states. …

Source: Women and Social Movements in the United States

6. Editorial on Japanese Americans (1942)

Read this editorial at the Densho Archive, which was originally published on January 30, 1942, in the Seattle Times.