My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

SAN FRANCISCO—The League of Women Voters sponsored the meeting in Santa Rosa. It is a very efficient organization with many young women actively interested. They said that all their members had worked on the meeting and the results were evident. Their state president came from out of town with her husband for a dinner before the meeting and afterwards there was a reception in a private home.

The small dinner was in a restaurant called the Topaz room. It had displayed in cases around the walls an interesting collection of glass and china from all over the world. I was glad to meet General and Mrs. Usher as I had not seen him since I was his guest in the Pacific in 1943. There were two people at the reception who had been in Warm Springs and were anxious for news of many of the people there. The husband had been badly handicapped by polio in the arms and legs but told me proudly he could earn his living and do a good job. How wonderful it is to see the human spirit rise above great handicaps, but it makes me deeply thankful that we now have the Salk vaccine and that soon perhaps forever we can eliminate the kind of handicaps that so many people have had to overcome. Two other old acquaintances from Washington, Mr. and Mrs. Merle Vincent, were kind enough to take us to the dinner, and it is certainly very pleasant to be warmly welcomed in a strange city.

Friday morning members of the League of Women Voters drove us into San Francisco, there being such a dense fog that no planes could fly. I am beginning to think that we are more fortunate in the East than they are on the West Coast, for, while their fogs do seem to burn off later in the day, the early morning seems to be out as far as planes are concerned. At least that has been our experience in the last few days!

My first greetings in the hotel here were from delegates from Hawaii who had come for the National meeting of the Democratic Committee and the Advisory Committee which is meeting at the same time. Saturday night the big fund raising dinner will be addressed by Adlai Stevenson but panels on many subjects are going on today and tomorrow. My son, James, and Senator Lehman are interested in the panel on human resources where the Senator will bring up the question of the attitude of the Democratic party on civil rights. The papers have long articles on the subject. Governor Harriman is here only for 24 hours but like many others he is agreeing with Senator Lehman that the President and the Republican administration have not faced up to their responsibility as regards integration in this country. They agree also that the Democratic party because of its Southern membership has not come out strongly and honestly in its stand and they are determined that at this meeting there shall be a clear-cut decision as to where the Democratic party does stand. They acknowledge the fact that this may bring a political explosion since this is the question which deeply divides the Democratic party. The South, solidly Democratic for many years though it is now beginning to move into a less solid status and show signs of having a two-party system, still has held, because of seniority, many of the most important and influential Party positions in the Congress. The Congressional leaders in both the Senate and the House are opposed to anything which will mean a clear-cut stand on Civil Rights Legislation. There are among the Southerners those who realize that change must come but they are also faced with the fact that they must be reelected and their role is a difficult one. For the liberals in the North to force on the whole party a stand which is impossible for the South to accept is going to be a very serious step and I hope that wisdom and patience will be used in the discussions which are to go on in the next few days.

E.R.
TMsd 16 February 1957, AERP, FDRL