MARCH 26, 1937
KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Thursday—After the lecture last night, we had a delightful party at Governor White's house where two negro colleges brought some of their singers to entertain us. The first group from Piney Ridge School came to sing for me because their quartet had gone to sign for the President at Warm Springs, and they wanted to be in on some of the entertainments! The next group came from Jackson College. Both groups sang very well, and I've certainly had an opportunity in the last few days to compare the various ways of singing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," because every group I have heard sing has sung it! It must be a favorite spiritual and it certainly is one of those I like best.
This morning we did a good bit of work on the train, the only interruptions being two Chattanooga newspaper reporters and one or two stations where I had to go out and greet groups of people gathered for a glimpse of "the President's wife" as the train went through.
When last I came to Knoxville without the President, I was driving my own car and I skirted the City by a round about road, but today I have been quite official and every one has been most cordial in their welcome. I went out at once to visit one of the WPA women's projects— their main sewing room. I received a wire on the train telling me that the women would work an hour longer today in the hope that I would visit them. It is a good sewing room and judging from the exhibition of work they must be turning out really skilled workers. In the colored workers room, I asked those who felt they had improved their skill in sewing to hold up their hands, and fully three-fourths of those present did so. They have comparatively few women doing hand work, but some of the baby things are as finely done as one could wish. I feel sure that the woman who made the little dress with fine tucks and feather stitching which I examined, could make a living at that kind of work. There are always enough people in any city who appreciate hand work and are willing to pay for it, especially on children's clothes, and underclothes.
The NYA projects which I visited were, a library project for colored youth, a Jewish Community Center, a playground and a hospital project, all of which were interesting. The regular workers on these projects have been very helpful in giving their cooperation to train the young NYA supervisors for a variety of recreational work. Tennessee has a big NYA program and I gather that they are doing successful enough work to impress the communities with the need for a continuation of their services.
Back at the hotel a little girl who has come four hundred miles by bus to see and hear me, and a girl who wove a piece of material and sent it to me some time ago, both came up to my room and I was presented with a child's chair made in one of the NYA work shops which is really nicely made.
Now we must get ready for tonight's lecture and after it we start for Washington.