My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—Strange things are happening in this country and an article sent me the other day which appeared in the New Orleans Times Picayune points them up. They quote a number of things said recently by a Dr. Irwin. He was attacking the Urban League and saying that no organization should be supported by the businessmen of the community financially when they advocated integration. He of course included an attack on the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and there he was joined by State Senator William Rainach who said this organization "grew from a handful of men, gained strength, grew and gained its power under the Roosevelt administration." They want to see that their registration laws in Louisiana will be strictly enforced because that will eliminate ten percent of the white voters and about ninety percent of of the colored voters in Louisiana.

The meeting at which these two gentlemen spoke was attended by another speaker called Leander H. Perez, district attorney of St. Bernard and Plaquemines parish. He identified the NAACP objectives with the Communist party, spoke against the U.S. Supreme Court, called the executive director of the Southern Conference Educational Fund "the worst Communist front agitator in our midst and the most dangerous."

Dr. Irwin said that many of the religious groups that advocated integration were really "the most segregated groups in the world" adding "can you imagine Archbishop Rummel attending a sermon by Baptist minister Gray?" He also advocated "that we prevent the observance of National Brotherhood Week in the city schools."

What is happening to us in the South that we find fanatics like this gaining a hearing against reasonable people who know that one cannot change human hearts or the mores of people overnight, but that in the face of a world situation where ⅔ of the people of the world are colored peoples we must begin to treat all peoples as equals and give them equal opportunities for development? This cannot happen overnight but beginnings must be made for the U.S. in the past year has changed its world position. There was a time when world leadership was exercised jointly. You did not hear of positions being taken by any nation singly in the free world. You heard of the Allies—Great Britain, France and the U.S.—taking positions together. Today that alliance has been broken. We have weakened our allies very greatly with the result that what was once done jointly now falls on the U.S. alone. If we are going to save from Communist leadership the colored peoples of the world then they must feel secure in our attitude towards them. They will never feel really secure until they see that within our own nation we treat all our citizens on an equal basis and grant them equal opportunity. Discrimination of any kind is not equality and the sooner we in the North and all of us in the South and throughout our country think these questions through and face them the sooner will our world be on a more peaceful basis.

E.R.
TMsd 8 February 1957, AERP, FDRL