MAY 17, 1956
NEW YORK—Long Island seems to grow bigger all the time! At least, that's the way it seemed Monday afternoon when I went out there to Wantaugh to speak for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and in the membership drive being carried on for the American Association for the United Nations.
It took us almost an hour and a half to reach Wantagh, but before the meeting I had a delightful dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Norman Acton. He is the organizing director of the U.S. Committee for UNICEF and, of course, was very active in promoting this meeting.
The meeting was called in the interest of getting a "Trick or Treat" program started in the schools as well as interesting people in the AAUN. The chairman of the meeting told me her little boy had gone out on Halloween collecting for the UNICEF and came back saying that nobody knew what he was talking about.
She made up her mind that another Halloween would not come around without people knowing why her child was collecting for the UNICEF. So it is the children who make older people do the things they ought to do!
Mrs. Acton told me that in her six-year-old daughter's school the children put on a program in which they showed something or told something of interest that has happened to them. Her daughter got up and announced I was having dinner with her. This the teacher would not believe and the little girl came home very crushed.
I cheered her up by telling her that one of my grandsons, who does not bear the Roosevelt name, announced to his school class when he was about six years old: "My grandfather is President of the United States." For this the teacher took him aside and gently explained that one must not learn to lie.
In our newspapers Tuesday, James F. Byrnes came out as an ex-member of the Supreme Court of the United States to take his place with those Southerners who are opposed to that court's interpretation of the Constitution.
He seems to have said that the decisions of the highest court in the land must be accepted by other U.S. courts and by those of the states but "not necessarily by the court of public opinion." He then added, "The people are not the creatures of the court; the court is the creature of the people."
This argument, I think, actually unholds the court's decision against segregated public schools, because the court never would have handed down this decision if the people of the country had not reached the point where, in a large part, their consciences demanded such an interpretation of the law.
Because of the fact that the court is responsible to change with the conscience of the people, it has changed its decisions at intervals of time. That is what has happened in this case and, in the long run, the court's decision will be accepted.