NOVEMBER 23, 1938
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Tuesday—One of the delightful qualities of the South is that the people do give you a feeling that they are very glad to see you. When we arrived from Atlanta, Ga., by the night train, we were not only greeted at the train by some very delightful people, who must have arisen at a very early hour to be be there, but the porter at the hotel seemed to envelope us in a kind of welcome which could only be extended to an old friend. From then on everyone gave us the same sense of being glad to welcome us "home" again.
Mr. Aubrey Williams had breakfast with us and seemed somewhat disturbed by the fact that something he said yesterday had been misquoted and misunderstood. I assured him that the people whose opinion is worth anything, always take the trouble to verify any really important statement, and that no one would expect that an extemporaneous speech could be reported without some inaccuracies and misinterpretation.
After a press conference, at which Mrs. Bibb Graves and I sat side by side, but at which I confess she did not help me very much in answering the questions, Mrs. Ralston and Dr. Petrullo took me out to the WPA archaeological laboratory. It is an extraordinarily interesting project, but what seemed to me remarkable was that this work which requires so much knowledge and skill is being done by WPA workers who never before reconstructed a pottery vase from fragments found in a burial mound, or rearranged the bones of skeletons or reconstituted a skull from a variety of fragments.
From the results of this work, one woman is actually making water color sketches showing the life of the Indian tribes in this vicinity. In other states archaeological projects such as these are carried on through the university laboratories, but in Georgia and Alabama these facilities did not exist, so this laboratory is a rather unique contribution to the education of the state as far as its past is concerned.
We stopped for a few minutes on the way back at the community center near the Negro housing project and looked at pictures of a proposed housing recreation ground in this vicinity which would serve a quarter of the Negro population of the city. The project is needed, that nobody questions, for Negro youth has no well-equipped playground in the city, but where the money is to come from seems to be the difficulty. This sounded very familiar to those of us who know things are needed, but find it hard to discover the money by which to obtain our objectives. I hope, however, that they will be able to work out the solution to these important problems, for there is danger in any city when a large part of its young people are without adeqaute recreational facilities.
Back at the hotel I attended the panel discussion on working conditions, wages and hours for women; lunched with some of those who are responsible for this Southern Conference on Human Welfare, and then went over to spend an hour and half at a meeting on youth problems.