My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK, Tuesday—I got off the train yesterday morning at 125th Street to be met by Captain Amsden and Commander Mildred McAfee, who were taking me over to the Naval Training Station in the Bronx. As we came down the steps, a rather excitable lady asked me if I knew that there had been a race riot in Harlem. My heart sank, for I would hate to have our city of New York succumb to this hysteria, which can do so much harm to break up the unity of our people.

Race riots which begin with one group may spread to other groups. They do not always remain purely race riots. They may become expressions of people's intolerance against different religions, and so it is all-important that those of us who can be calm, objective and sane, try to act in that way wherever we are at the present time. We must not be frightened. We must not be stampeded and we must not be gullible and believe everything that people tell us without proof.

From all I could learn, the incident which occurred on Sunday was not very serious, though anything which causes loss of life and injures a number of people is serious as a sign of ill will among us and should not be minimized, but neither should it be exaggerated. We, the people in New York City, have lived in harmony, in spite of the fact that we have represented a great many races and religions for a great many years. We must not now, at a time when the country needs an example of unity, allow ourselves to be divided.

The girls I saw passing in review had only been in the WAVES 17 days, but they made a very creditable showing. Admiral O'Neil was there to review them and from the field we proceeded to visit the schoolrooms where they try to give the recruits an idea of the various fields in which they can work. We saw the barracks, the mess halls, the hospital. Since I was with the Navy, I left them exactly on time and made my luncheon engagement on the minute.

There is no adequate recreation at this training centerfor the girls, and no good place for them to drill or to meet in winter. Nearby is a large armory and the state has been most cooperative in offering the armory for their use. During the summer, however, they drill out of doors, but when the winter comes I should think it almost a necessity to have some indoor facilities.

This is a big school where from 2,000 to 5,000 girls are in training. Since it is near Washington, I wish that some of the members of Congress who are interested in our military organizations might come to visit here. In the first place, I think these girls who enter military services are doing something which seems somewhat unusual to their families. It will give the families more confidence and the girls a lift, if they knew that the legislative branch of the government is taking a special interest in them.

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL