Stuart Hughes, Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy '54, and George Cabot Lodge '50 sat calmly side by side on the same social platform last night to exchange their views on civil rights. Over 1200 persons, many of them Hughes supporters, jammed M.I.T.'s Kresge Auditorium for the meeting, which was the first public confrontation of the three candidates for U.S. Senator from Massachusetts.
Each of the candidates answered three questions prepared by representatives of the sponsoring groups--CORE, the NAACP, and the Fair Housing Federation--and was allowed five minutes to make a statement.
The first question dealt with the proposed revision of Senate Rule 22 regarding limitation of debate. Hughes, speaking first, called for a rule which would impose cloture by a simple majority, with "reasonable provision for full debate, say 100 hours."
Kennedy and Lodge concurred, but said they would settle for the "politically realistic" goal of cloture by a three-fifths majority.
Asked for his position on an "imminent" executive order banning discrimination in federal housing projects, Kennedy said he thought such an order should be signed, and added, "I believe it will be by the end of the year."
"For 616 days the signing of this executive order has been 'imminent','" Lodge retorted. "I'm glad to hear that responsible sources indicate it will be signed."
Moments later, Hughes joined the fun, expressing his delight that the executive order was soon to be issued. "It may have made unnecessary a telegram 1 sent to the President this afternoon," he added.
In his concluding statement Hughes called on the President to bar federal aid to any school which practices discrimination, and demanded that the Senate reject the appointments of federal judges who are segregationists. Referring to Boston's racial problems, he cited the ending of de facto segregation in the suburbs as the single most important task. A two-minute ovation, greeted the end of Hughes' speech.
Kennedy said that the real leadership in the fight for civil rights must come from the federal government. He declared that the desegration of schools and of transportation facilities, and the protection of citizens' voting rights were recent policies of the government which would inspire local action on ending discrimination.
Lodge wound up with a proposal to give statutory authority to the Presidential Commission on Government Contracts, and asked an end to the literacy test and poll tax for federal elections.
Edward Brooke, Republican nominee for Attorney General, and Endicott "Chub" Peabody '42 also spoke at the meeting.
Interviewed on the run after the meeting, Kennedy said that he would not show up at John Hancock Hall Saturday night to debate Hughes and Lodge because of "a speaking engagement in the Chicopee area."