JULY 29, 1946
HYDE PARK, Sunday—In our family we have always said there are two kinds of anger. One kind you have to fight and conquer, since it shows weakness. The other kind is righteous indignation, which can be indulged in with a clear conscience.
For the last few days, when I've not been sad, I've been seething with righteous indignation. Ever since I read of the horrible murder of two Negro couples in Monroe, Ga., by a group of white men, I have been indignant that any people could make me feel so ashamed.
My grandmother came from Georgia. I have always had an understanding of the problems facing Southern white people on interracial questions. But cold-blooded murder of two men and their wives holds our nation up before the world to ridicule and shame. The murderers, I am sure, call themselves Christians and good citizens of a democracy. How can we talk about democracy when groups such as this mock the principal on which it is founded?
You can have no real democracy when the people in your midst, whatever their race or color or creed, and whatever their crime may be, cannot be sure of a fair trial and even-handed justice. No one wants sentimental kindness, but all men under whatever government they live want freedom and justice. There is no freedom when one group of individuals can strike fear into the hearts of other individuals and use violence against them.
I hope neither the federal nor the state authorities will rest until these men who besmirched the honor of our nation and of our democracy have been brought to trial. I do not want them killed, because you cannot bring back the dead by adding to their number. But I want these men held up to ridicule in their own environment as men who do not understand how to uphold democracy or live in a democratic community. I want them obliged to make what restitution is possible to those who live and whose loved ones have been killed, and I want them placed where they must be harmless.
People who can think that such actions are right are dangerous in any community and, since they cannot control themselves, they should be permanently restrained by their government.
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The most heartening thing I have seen even in these gloomy days is a group at the Fieldston School. James Loeb came on from Washington to tell them how Congress functions and give them the background on a number of well-known figures. When I visited them Saturday morning, a spirited question period was going on as they sat on the lawn.
This is a serious group of young people and since they visited Hyde Park, they have had an opportunity to grow. They have lived in close companionship for almost four weeks. They know each other not only as people but as individuals. They have played and worked and argued together. I think they will go back to their communities and act like yeast, for ideas and emotions have stirred them.
After leaving them, I spent a couple of hours with Miss Thompson and then reluctantly said goodbye. She is doing so well, has visitors and will soon be back at home again. Nevertheless I have to go and yet I am glad to be joining my son Elliott and his family at Campobello Island even for a few days. I shall enjoy the drive, if the weather is as fine as it has been here the last two days, and so I am off.