JANUARY 6, 1943
NEW YORK, Tuesday—Miss Thompson and I rose early yesterday morning in order to reach New York City in time for one or two appointments at my apartment, before we went to the opening of the Theatre Wing Canteen for Merchant Seamen.
The train was an hour late so we did considerable work on it. However, it made me rather breathless in catching up with appointments and being ready to leave the house at three thirty.
Mr. John Golden and all the wonderful people who are responsible for the American Theatre Wing Canteens, should be proud of the job which has been done in making this club so attractive. The game room downstairs is one the men will enjoy. The library is a delightful room in which to sit and rest and read.
I went down to the kitchen and saw the volunteers for the day working hard. I envied the men the delicious looking pies and sniffed at the coffee pots, also somewhat covetously.
As we came out, the sailors were beginning to crowd their way in. I feel sure that with the talents which the Theatre wing always provides, this is going to be another of those popular canteens. There is no group more deserving of recognition than the men in the Merchant Marine, who are fighting the war in, perhaps, the most courageous way possible, because there is so little they can do to defend themselves when attacked.
One man told me that he had been at the opening with me of the Glasgow Merchant Seamen's club, and another said he had sailed out of Glasgow the day I arrived there. The North Atlantic is no pleasant spot during the winter months and it takes courage and endurance to keep on going back and forth.
I read an article the other day which was an evaluation of the Negro press in this country. It seemed to me that the author, Mr. Brown, has done an extraordinarily fair and constructive piece of writing. He differentiated between the various papers, but he pointed out that for the most part, very few of the Negro newspapers are concerned primarily with giving news.
This, I think, is one of their weaknesses, because it means a less well informed reading public and prevents their being considered on a par with other newspapers. There is some very good writing in some of them, but there are also some articles which are regrettable from many points of view.
I left last night on the train for Syracuse, New York. I am speaking at Syracuse University three times during the morning and returning to New York City by an afternoon train.