JANUARY 15, 1944
WASHINGTON, Friday—I was interested yesterday in talking with Mr. Edwin McArthur who has just returned from a tour of duty in the Southwest Pacific for USO camp shows. This organization is doing a most magnificent job. As I hear more and more of the artists who have gone out for them, I realize that they are not only giving something to the men which is of great value at present, but in many cases, they are doing an educational job which will be of value to the soldiers when they come back. For they will have an added appreciation of the arts in their daily lives.
Mr. McArthur had been a director at the Metropolitan, but for this trip he took some lessons on the accordian, and that was the instrument which accompanied him on his travels. Instead of a symphony orchestra, he had one assistant. Their object was to bring out talent as they found it in soldier groups, and to entertain all branches of the service wherever they might be. Also, to sing together and to enjoy special contributions which members of their own group might offer during an informal evening. This was done so successfully that Mr. McArthur told me he had unearthed all types of entertainment. For example, one boy who asked him to play "Tea for Two," picked two spoons off the table and accompanied him with a most delightful new type of rhythm created by the spoons.
Like everyone else who has been with our boys, he has a desire to go back and to go back as soon as possible. As I know what this type of work means to morale, I hope that he will soon start on another trip.
Last night I attended a panel discussion at Howard University on the subject of what the Negro can do to better racial relations in America. These young students were very honest. They thought up quite a program for themselves, ranging from the better behavior campaign which is being advocated by one of their Pittsburgh papers, to better preparation for the jobs which they want to do, so that it will be increasingly difficult to deny them opportunities because of the outstanding quality of their work. The attitude of these young Negro students seemed to me very promising.
I have just received word that the National Broadcasting Company, in cooperation with ten volunteer youth agencies, is putting on a program beginning Saturday, January 15th, from one to one-thirty in the afternoon, called: "Here's to Youth." This program will cover such subjects as "Young Americans in Crisis," "Trailer Town's Children," "The Melting Pot Boils," etc., which seems to promise some interesting half hours.