OCTOBER 3, 1945
NEW YORK, Tuesday—Last night I went to Newark, New Jersey, for a Freedom Rally held under the auspices of the Federation of Negro College Students and other civic groups of the city. The Mayor was there and the auditorium was crowded, and I was glad to see that it really was a joint meeting of many people of different national origins and of varied religions. After the Mayor's greeting, Dr. Channing Tobias spoke, and both young and old seemed to feel the significance at the present moment of a meeting to emphasize the unity of the American people.
I think Mayor La Guardia was right to be horrified when he heard of the rumored high school riots here, and of the actual ones in Chicago and in Gary, Indiana. It seems to me, however, that while on the surface we can blame certain organizations and leaders who may have been impressing on these young minds the differences among people rather than their likenesses, we elders cannot escape from the main responsibility. Parents at home must know when their children are rioting, or developing the ideas which lead to riots. If they do not know, it shows a lack of family communication and mutual interest which is sad indeed.
I have long been one of those who like to feel that many of the most difficult problems which we face will find no solutions as long as we, of the older generation, are making the decisions. I have lately come to think, however, that in this atomic age we are not going to be able to sit back comfortably and look to the future generations to solve the problems of the world. An atomic bomb moves so fast that, unless we remove any reason for its destructive use, there may be no future generations!
It would be comfortable to accept the pessimism of a Henry Adams who, enjoying pessimism, acknowledged that he and his contemporaries had failed, yet hoped future generations would do better. But we are in the sad situation of being forced to act ourselves or run the risk of having no future in the civilization which we and our forefathers have built.
When one reads the accounts of the peace conference in Europe, one cannot help feeling that our individual conviction about the necessity for peace, and the need for having confidence override suspicion, has not been strong enough to impress itself very greatly on the minds of our representatives or the representatives of Britain and Russia. One can talk about leaving things to the "Big Three," but in the long run the world cannot be run only by the men at the top. They must reflect the feeling and direction given them by the individual citizens of their nations. That can be done better in a democracy than in any other form of government, I believe, if the citizens accept their responsibilities; but it can be done anywhere, by any people who are determined to be heard by their leaders.