SEPTEMBER 16, 1952
HYDE PARK, Monday—I wonder if my readers have seen the Carver-Washington commemorative coin. Congress approved the special minting of these coins and authorized the Birthplace Memorial Organization to sell them at a premium.
The Birthplace Memorial Organization came into being to buy and preserve the plantation where Booker T. Washington was born and reared as a slave. Mr. S.J. Phillips of Alabama, a well-known Negro editor, undertook the work of this organization because he has always had such a great admiration for Booker T. Washington. With the help of white people as well as Negroes, the birthplace was chartered and the state legislature of Virginia appropriated $15,000 for the improvement of the farm where Booker T. Washington was born in 1856.
In addition to what he was doing for the Washington home, in October, 1949, Mr. Phillips was informed by a member of Congress that the Birthplace of George Washington Carver at Diamond, Mo. could be taken over by the National Parks Commission if a debt of $85,000 could be paid off. So, having undertaken this second responsibility, he went to Washington. There Mr. Phillips succeeded in persuading Representatives and Senators to pass a bill appropriating not mere $85,000 but $150,000, and that is why the Booker T. Washington coin became the Carver-Washington commemorative coin.
Mr. Phillips has succeeded in doing many things in connection with this organization, such as the starting of a school to train Negro workers at the Booker T. Washington farm. I particularly like the objectives he has voiced as his aim, which are:
"To broaden the opportunities for Negro work training, enabling them to improve their economic level.
"To reduce and ultimately wipe out poverty and want among the most underprivileged Negroes.
"To instill in the underprivileged, through training and education, pride in their community and the American way of life.
"To develop in the Negro masses the knowledge and understanding of the individual's responsibility to his country and his neighbors.
"To contribute toward improved living by stressing the dignity and worth of the individual and his work."
These are objectives that any of us working with any group in our community, white or colored, might hold before us. It is frequently said that our minority groups, particularly our Negro minority group, find it easier to accept the Communist promises because of certain tensions and a general feeling that the promises of democracy are not kept equally for all our citizens. An undertaking of the kind which Mr. Phillips is working on will certainly help to remove some of the attractiveness of Communist propaganda.