NOVEMBER 30, 1940
WASHINGTON, Friday—During this past week a most interesting biracial conference has been going on at Hampton Institute. Dr. Malcolm B. MacLean is evidently starting in with the determination of improving interracial understanding wherever it is possible to do so. In this conference, where 200 prominent authorities in 11 different fields discussed the Negro and his relation to total defense, a real contribution, I am sure, has been made. It should lead to a better understanding of the racial problems in the United States, and in particular to a readjustment of these problems as they relate to our present situation.
I am becoming more and more aware of the contributions to our culture by so many Negro artists. Last night a group of us went to see and hear Ethel Waters in "Cabin In The Sky." We spent a delightful evening. The play is light and amusing, the music is charming and there are one or two songs Miss Waters sings which haunt you afterwards. It is true that this play does not give her the opportunity for tragic, dramatic expression, such as "Mamba's Daughters" gave her, but perhaps we need not be stirred to the depths of our souls all the time in these days when reading a newspaper is enough to do that.
My only regret was that I did not feel that there was any song which Todd Duncan sang that could touch the ones in "Porgy and Bess." I like Mr. Duncan and I think he has such a very fine voice, that I was disappointed not to carry away something with me I could not forget.
I was very glad to have a talk yesterday afternoon with Mr. Edwin R. Embree and to hear a little more about the work of the Rosenwald Foundation. I think I am going to learn a great deal more than I have known in the past about a number of things in the South which interest me very much.
I was fortunate enough to corral Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Hemingway for lunch with me yesterday. I only wish that hours when you are with people you enjoy seeing, did not pass so quickly!
Midnight saw us getting on the train for Washington, and we arrived this morning under gray skies. But once in the house, everything seemed happy and full of warmth. Even the President's little Scottie dashed into the room while we were at breakfast and his whole body practically wriggled in his effort to express his welcome.