FEBRUARY 2, 1956
NEW YORK—As is my custom I went to Hyde Park very early Monday morning, January 30, which is my husband's birthday.
President Eisenhower had asked the Superintendent of West Point Military Academy, Lt. Gen. B.M. Bryan, to lay a wreath on my husband's grave. The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis sent up its wreath, which was put in place by two children—the polio child on crutches and the first child to be inoculated with the Salk vaccine. Then the Hyde Park Home Club laid its wreath, one of the oldest members, Moses Smith, officiating with our rector, Mr. Gordon Kidd, saying a prayer.
The weather was kind and though the ground was wet it did not rain hard during the ceremony. We managed to have 14 for lunch and then I dashed back to New York to attend an executive committee meeting for the American Association for the United Nations.
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Not long ago a member of Congress asked me my position on the school construction bill and the amendment making it explicit that no money should go to any segregated schools.
It would seem to me, in the light of the Supreme Court decision, that no Federal government money could go to a school that practiced discrimination, because it has been decided that under the Constitution segregation is discrimination.
Therefore, an amendment should be unnecessary, but I can understand the desire to make doubly sure. It seems to me, as an individual not running for office and not having any responsibility except to make clear what the principles are that I believe in, that I would approve the inclusion of this amendment. I would want to make it perfectly clear that the Federal government must, as long as the Supreme Court decision has been made, live up to it in the distribution of money for school buildings or for school maintenance.
I can understand the position of people, however, who feel that the school construction bill is so important for all the children of the country that they do not want it held up by an amendment that would bring about a filibuster on the part of Southern Democrats in Congress. And this would, of course, be encouraged by the Republicans because it would prevent much legislation, which should be passed, from getting through.
This undoubtedly would be welcomed, as the Republicans would feel that the Democrats (the Southern Democrats) are taking the responsibility for creating a Congress in which other needed legislation is neglected—and that would be bad for the Democratic party, as well as for the country as a whole.
Like so many things, this is not a simple question and one wonders if it might be possible to meet it in any other way. But I have decided that in the long run it is more important to us as a nation to show the world that we believe in equality of opportunity, that we realize that any kind of segregation is discrimination whether it comes about because of race, color, or creed, and that we are determined to show the world that we believe in the things we preach.