SEPTEMBER 25, 1956
NEW YORK—I was asked recently on the television program, "Meet the Press," what my attitude was regarding the Supreme Court's order on desegregation of schools. There are a number of things on this subject I would like to say.
First, we who live in the North have an obligation to show that we believe in a government of law, and a Supreme Court order is the law of the land and must be obeyed. We do not obey this law unless we see to it that segregation does not exist in our part of the country. This means that considerable changes have to take place, particularly in the big city areas.
How quickly can we desegregate New York's Harlem? Probably not too quickly, but we will not desegregate the schools there until we have desegregated housing. We cannot sit by and do nothing. We must move or we are not living up to the law of the land.
And how about Chicago? I have a letter from that city that points out the fact that the racial problems are not all in the South. They are right here in the North. The letter writer says:
"This is the one half mile area of longest racial tension in the U.S., though it involves only 27 Negro families out of a housing project of 452 homes.
"For over three years now the home owners outside the project but within the half mile area have waged organized battle against the Negro through an 'improvement association' and a weekly 'hate sheet' which they also publish.
"Aerial bombs explode almost every night, often as many as 12, to intimidate Negroes into moving out. The Negroes' cars and homes have been stoned as recently as this Monday and many of them personally beaten and stoned.
"The 'improvement association' vows that no Negro will dare walk the streets of their neighborhood and they patrol the streets at night in groups. It is my conviction that only a small group is perpetuating this and the rest go along out of fear."
This is not Clay, Ky., but the Trumbull Park area in Chicago, Ill. The minister there has written a prayer on brotherhood for the area and I give it to you here, for I think it might be helpful in many communities:
"O God, as this bomb represents the evil that fosters hatred, strife and selfishness, hear now my prayer for love, peace and brotherhood.
"Forgive the one who fired the bomb. He does not know he sets it against Thee. He believes what generations of evil have taught him. Send him a new teacher, Lord, that Thy spirit may open his eyes to the sin that will otherwise destroy him.
"Grant me Thy gift of love that I may not seek to retaliate, but only return good for evil as Thou didst teach me long ago from the Cross—'Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."'