Samuel P. Goddard Papers

12th Governor of Arizona

Civil Rights

Governor Goddard believed that no one had the right “to deprive anyone of the right to vote, to live where he wants, or anything else, just because he has a different skin color or goes to a different church.”1 He asserted that every person should be treated equally under the law and that one man is not inherently better than another insofar as his rights, privileges and dignity are concerned.2 He was a strong supporter of President Johnson’s Civil Rights agenda and advocated legal protection of the rights of all Arizonans, regardless of race, creed or nationality. To this end, Goddard actively supported the civil rights bill that was proposed to the legislature in March of 1965, and signed the bill into law on April 1, 1965.

The law prohibited discrimination in voting, employment, labor union membership, and places of public accommodation because of race, sex, religion, color, nationality, or ancestry. It established a seven-person civil rights commission with subpoena power and authority to make judgments in case of alleged discrimination. It also imposed fines for up to $300 ($1,667.00 in adjusted dollars3) for persons proven guilty of discrimination. In addition, and to ensure cooperation and adherence to the law within government agencies, Goddard appointed a committee consisting of the heads of the five major departments of the state government which investigated and reported to him on the employment practices within the various departments. These included John Evans of the State Employment Security Commission, Richard Herbert of the Corporation Commission, Arthur Schellenberg of the State Board of Regents, Superintendent G. O. Hathaway of the Arizona Highway Patrol, and State Highway Director Justin Herman.

As one of his most significant acts as governor, Goddard’s signing of the Civil Rights Bill was also a courageous act in that the bill was not popular amongst the people, despite the support it received from both houses of the state legislature. Several letters and correspondences to the governor urged him not to sign a bill which they felt was communist-inspired and meant to “destroy our country.”4 Despite attempts to convince him otherwise, Goddard maintained his support for the bill because he believed that Arizona’s culture had been enriched by the state’s Asians, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans, and African-Americans, and that Arizona’s economic growth was partly contributable to, and dependent on members of these groups.

1 Goddard to Sharon Ault, April 13, 1965. Office of the Governor: S.P. Goddard 1965-1966, Box 1, File "Correspondence A." RG 1 SG 19. Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records.

2 Correspondence to Barbara Stein, November 9, 1966. Office of the Governor: S.P. Goddard 1965-1966, Box 31, File "Governor's Reading Files, November 1 - 15, 1966." RG 1 SG 19. Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records.

3 Calculated by the Columbia School of Journalism,

4 M.C. Stephenson to Goddard, April 1, 1965. Office of the Governor: S.P. Goddard 1965-1966, Box 18, File "Stephenson -- Sutton." RG 1 SG 19. Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records.

Previous Page


Next Page