FEBRUARY 22, 1950
NEW YORK, Tuesday—Back from Ithaca, New York, this morning, two and a half hours late! I suppose the added load on the trains that do run—passenger and freight—contributes to the lagging schedules even more than the weather. However, the first real cold of the winter was noticed all through New York State. I went to Cornell at the invitation of a group that calls itself "Watermargin," a name taken from an old Chinese novel that means "All Men Are Brothers."
Some of the boys met me at the train in Syracuse on Monday afternoon and, fortunately, I was only three-quarters of an hour late. The drive from there to Cornell had to be taken rather slowly, since the roads were somewhat slippery. We arrived in time for a reception in the boys' house where 30 members of the group live and about 60 or 70 eat every day.
On the way down I was told about how the Watermargins came into existence as an organization. It appears that some of the returned G.I.s took seriously the fact that they had fought for the preservation of democracy for all men. When they found that many of the fraternities were somewhat restricted in their membership, they decided to try and start a group of their own where men of different racial and religious and economic backgrounds would demonstrate that they could live in unity and gain from their companionship. They now have about 100 members and a full athletic and educational program. As a result, they have been accepted on the campus and the other fraternities work with them and have gained respect for their efforts.
My speech in the evening came at the conclusion of a two-day conference at which they had 40 delegates from 17 schools and colleges to discuss the program they were carrying on and to find out whether they believed it was something that would be accepted on other campuses.
Since some of the founders are about to graduate, they also are concerned about what they should do in their own communities when they return to them. They would strive to increase the understanding of their idea that "all men are brothers."
Of course, it was because of their desire to hear about the work of the United Nations Human Rights Commission that I had been asked to close the conference, and Bailey Hall, in which I have talked so often during Farm and Home Week, was filled with young people. In addition, a few of the faculty and townspeople were there.
It seems to me very encouraging that these young people should take such an interest in human rights and freedoms. It is encouraging that they should recognize so quickly that our acceptance of these ideals is just a spelling out of the real ideals of democracy. They believe that only by putting them into practice will we demonstrate to the world what democracy really stands for and define more clearly for the average human being the world over the differences between the philosophy of democracy and of communism.