FEBRUARY 13, 1941
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—I wonder how many of you noticed in the papers an announcement of Negro History Week, which runs from February 9th to February 16th. I have long felt that, while we are in school, all of us should learn more about the contributions of the various races making up the people of the United States of America since the beginning of its history. At the same time, it is important to know each year, what special contributions have been made by different groups in their different fields of endeavor.
A nationwide poll is conducted each year by the Schomburg Collection of Negro Literature of the New York Public Library, to determine: "the twelve Negroes (individuals, organizations or institutions) who have most distinguished themselves during the past year." At the same time, they choose six white people, or institutions, who have done most toward the improvement of race relations "in terms of a real democracy."
This, I think, is valuable in giving recognition where it is due, and in keeping us aware of the contributions of our various racial groups. We should be grateful for what they achieve, for it is the sum total of all our achievements which makes the greatness of our country, and we must feel pride in every individual who contributes to the whole.
Yesterday afternoon, I attended the reception given by the Congressional Club, and went from there to a fashion show and a tea given at the Shoreham Hotel for the benefit of the Goodwill Industries. I came home in time to welcome a guest from New York City, Miss Esther Lape, and to prepare for the early dinner which always precedes the big receptions.
Last night the reception was the largest we have held this year and the most brilliant, for uniforms predominated and plain evening clothes were rather conspicuous. The Army and Navy reception is apt to bring many friends and acquaintances together, but in spite of the President's habit of stopping people to talk to them, they go by with such precision and rapidity that it does not take much longer than other receptions.
By 10:30, the President was able to be upstairs with the door of his study shut on the outer world, while Mr. Willkie told him of his European impressions. I went to work on my mail and found the President still awake at quarter before one. I feel sure that whatever report Mr. Willkie gave was not depressing, for the President turned everything we talked about into a humorous story.
This morning we are going down to the Lincoln Memorial, where a wreath will be placed to commemorate the day. Then we shall await the arrival of the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg with her husband and son.