MARCH 6, 1948
NEW YORK, Friday—Yesterday morning in Washington, a non-governmental organization met at the State Department to go over the documents drafted by the United Nations Human Rights Commission at its Geneva session. There were a great many questions brought up in round-table discussions. I spoke for a few minutes in the general meeting of this group, which is largely made up of people who have made a study of the subject of human rights. I pointed out that our real need is a general understanding of and interest in this subject, as it affects the world, on the part of our citizens.
It will be useless, for instance, for us to accede in the commission to the inclusion of certain rights in the international covenant, which has to be ratified by Congress, if we are not going to ratify it promptly. Everything that has occurred so far, I think, points to the fact that many people throughout the world look to the United States for leadership. Hence, if we are not sufficiently convinced that certain rights granted to individuals will create a better foundation for peace, we will not be able to give to other nations that sense of urgency which will make them ratify the covenant.
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I returned to New York City in time to attend a dinner in honor of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, who has certainly made for herself a very unique place in the hearts of her fellow citizens. Many leaders in philanthropic and civic and religious fields were there to pay tribute to her service to this country.
As an educator, who founded and headed the only college in the South built and financed by a Negro woman, she served the Negro youth in the South. As an executive in the National Youth Administration, she did a very remarkable piece of work for all young people in a time of need. As one of the leaders now in the National Council of Negro Women, she is doing an increasingly fine job, not only with the women of her own race but in improving race relations.
Her greatest achievement, I think, is as a human being. Her approach to life is that of simple dignity and religious belief. She must look back with pride on her achievements. She has a vision for a better United States which spreads out to a better world, and I hope that she will live long enough to see achieved some measure of the unity which she prays for and works for.
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At least one voice in the South has been publicly addressed to the Southern Governors which states rather clearly how some Southerners feel about the attitude of the Governors on civil rights. One paragraph should be read by us all:
"Your proposals are not only undemocratic. They shock the rank and file of Southerners who are trying to find a Christian basis for living. The South still has strong attachments to the Christian faith as well as to economic and political democracy."