JULY 31, 1945
HYDE PARK, Monday—George E. Haynes, of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, has just written me saying that he feels we get a great deal more of the distressing picture of the difficulties in racial relations in our country and a great deal less than we should about the constructive things which are actually being done.
If he is right, I think we should all rejoice. From what he tells me, I think there is really more being done than most of us realize. For instance, he encloses a pamphlet describing the race relations clinic held in Youngstown, Ohio, last month, and it looks to me as though the people who attended the clinic must have known a good deal more about conditions in their city at the end of the two-day session.
They heard a report from a research committee which had gone into the question of housing quite thoroughly, and this was discussed. Then another committee reported on community resources, and these were discussed. Next came the report on employment and on leisure time activities, and after that the full discussion—the summing up of all the information gathered. They held a discussion on what should be done, and actually seem to have begun to translate into action the results of their group thinking.
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Youngstown was the fourteenth city in which similar clinics have been held by the department of race relations of the Federal Council of Churches. Mr. Haynes also tells me that outside of Detroit, seven cities of Michigan held similar clinics last year and tried to reduce the tensions which the Detroit situation had created.
The approach to the difficult situation is a very simple one. Racial tensions and conflicts are looked upon as mental and social ills. This calls for a frank analysis of the interests involved. Since the ministers and the civic forces of the towns are largely responsible for these clinics, they believe that remedies can be found through moral and religious forces; and they work with the people to generate these forces.
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In practically every place the most important questions seem to be housing and employment.
In connection with housing, I wish that everyone could see a very lovely book of sketches which was sent me from California the other day. The sketches show how towns which grow up without any planning can easily develop blighted areas. It is easy to see how this can be avoided and all of living made easier and pleasanter by careful planning, with consideration for all the groups which must live together in any large city. Many people are afraid of the mere suggestion that anyone plan anything in advance. Yet in our daily lives most of us know that we have to plan even very small things to have them run smoothly. Why, then, are we so afraid of planning on a larger scale?