AUGUST 21, 1936
NEW YORK—I have just been given a list of new movies which are beginning now to make their appearance and will continue through the autumn to rejoice movie audiences. Good books, good plays, historical incidents and drama of various kinds will be available and should prove both pleasurable and educational. I have long felt that this medium might become one of the most valuable aids to good citizenship in this country.
Everything beyond the normal radius of our every day activities used to come through the printed page. The impression made upon us varied, according to the ability of the writer to paint vivid word pictures, but the movie and the radio have changed this. We now have two additional ways of learning about things that are outside our personal experience. We may see them on the screen and listen to them on the radio. No one medium destroys the value of any other, they simply complement each other and create a larger audience of informed people.
There were groups of people who never read a great deal, who rarely went to a theatre, to a concert or to a lecture. Today they are being reached by the radio and by the movies. They are learning history. They know the stories of many books which they have never read, they know what distant parts of this country and foreign countries look like, they know contemporary conditions and are in touch with occurences at home and abroad. People are better informed and more interested citizens. A democratic form of government is dependent for its success on an informed voter. It is only easy to over throw democracy where the sources of information are not available to the average citizen. It seems to me therefore, significant that in our country, the newspaper, books, radio, and the movies are probably more easily available to greater numbers of people than in any other country in the world.
A big responsibility for those who produce this information, for they are the keepers of democracy, creators of the citizens of today and tomorrow! They feed the minds and often the hearts of citizens. What these citizens do thereafter is, of course, their own responsibility, just as what our children do after they are of thinking age is no longer the responsibility of the parents. We watch the parents with interest, however, as moulders of the future, and so we are watching today our three great great agencies which are building the democracy of the future.
New York City air seems to be rather dead, and I am glad that after a night and a day in New York, I shall be back in Hyde Park this evening.