APRIL 11, 1947
HYDE PARK, Thursday—Henry Ford's death brings to an end a very colorful career which was peculiarly an American achievement. Measured by standards of material success, he certainly accomplished a great deal. And I think he did a great deal for the people of this country, because his first automobiles opened up to vast numbers of people a broader vision of their country and a conception of what machinery could do to make life easier. Many people are grateful to him, and that must have been the real satisfaction of his declining years.
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At a meeting in Washington the other evening, the District of Columbia Alumni Association of Howard University presented to the university a scholarship which they were kind enough to name for me, and they allowed me to receive the check and to pass it on to Dr. Mordecai Johnson, president of the university. A $1000 scholarship means real work for the District alumni group, and I felt it showed how much appreciation there is of the opportunities which Howard University opens to young colored people of the District and of the nation.
As we were passing through the university's chapel one afternoon, we heard someone playing the piano beautifully, and I found it was a blind student whose home is in Mechanicville, N. Y. He is to play for the students on some important occasion soon, and he was rehearsing while his professor listened and gave him constructive criticism. I could see little to criticize. I had rarely heard the piano respond to a player more beautifully, and I could not help hoping that here was a blind man who would have not only deep personal satisfaction from his music, but an opportunity to earn a living and to give pleasure to hundreds of people.
They told me that this boy knows every foot of the campus, walks with a student beside him not even touching him, and can even get about by himself. What wonderful things people learn to do in overcoming physical handicaps!
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Tuesday evening, when I walked into the Washington airport to fly back to New York, I met one acquaintance after another. First I saw the son of Mrs. Nesbitt, who was our housekeeper in the White House for so long and, before that, our neighbor in Hyde Park. I was glad of a chance to send a message to her. Then I was greeted by Franklin K. Lane, Jr., who was flying to Sante Fe, N. M., because he had heard his mother was not well. We had a chat and I was able to send messages to her. And finally, Sen. and Mrs. Olin Johnston, who were meeting their niece, chatted with me and then the senator put me on my plane, so I found myself well cared for.