MAY 24, 1941
WASHINGTON, Friday —At the close of the garden party yesterday afternoon, Mr. Charles Taussig met me to talk over some of the things which the advisory committee of the National Youth Administration has been accomplishing during the past few months. We went to the airport where we caught the plane for New York City. There I attended an evening meeting which lasted until well after 11:00 o'clock.
This morning, Dr. William Neilson and Mr. John Rothschild came to see me in New York to tell me about various travel and study groups which the "Open Road" has organized for the summer. Then I caught a plane to Washington.
Here I found Mlle. Eve Curie, who is staying with us for the night. My first appointment was with two ladies, Mrs. William Hurd Hill and Mrs. Huldah Randell, who had come to talk about living conditions in the southwest part of Washington. They are interested in a community house in that section, for which they are trying to raise money.
They are obliged to leave their present building, which is entirely inadequate to the demands that should be met in this section. Recreation facilities are negligible and housing conditions are very bad. It is an area in which the colored people struggle to live decently and under almost insurmountable difficulties.
I do not know just what can be done to help them, but I feel more and more strongly every day that we should build no more memorials in stone to our great men, or even beautiful government buildings, until we have made it possible for the people who live in this city today, whether they are white or colored, to have decent housing, areas for recreation and adequate school buildings. These seem to me more important than monuments to the men who built the nation.
There is one piece of information that I discovered in Maine which pleased me very much. Ten cities and towns in that State already have the food stamp plan in operation. The entire State has been designated for this program, which means that in the near future, 125,000 needy people in Maine will have the opportunity to increase their food consumption through the use of the free blue surplus stamps.
This is an important step in long range national defense. Our nutrition problems have been great and we are only just beginning to understand that the Government must assist people from the economic and educational standpoint, in order that we may remedy some of the defects which we now know exist in the feeding of our children.