JULY 30, 1957
NEW YORK—I have just been told that the Soviet Union has granted me the three visas I asked for, and I hope we shall be off to Russia by the end of August. I am glad to have this chance to see a country that I have never seen, and I am grateful that I may travel in Russia, if not in China.
I do not believe in crying over spilt milk, but in the case of last week's House action in defeating the federal school aid bill, I think it is important that we all understand how the milk was spilled. The anti-segregation amendment was adopted, at the suggestion of the Republicans, and then many of the Republicans voted against the amended bill—thus making the defeat sure, since they were of course joined by the Southern Democrats. This coalition has used the same tactics before.
It is a clever trick, but I hope the colored people of this country are going to awaken to the fact that—by voting for the anti-segregation amendment and then voting against the bill—the Republicans are friends neither of Negro nor of white children. They simply make sure that no federal money will be spent on constructing new schools, and both Negro and white children suffer.
I have said repeatedly that, in view of the situation as it now stands, it would be better to refrain from putting this anti-segregation clause into the bill. Without it, we could get a clear-cut vote as to who wants new school construction and an improved school situation for the children of our country as a whole.
I think the segregation question will have to be fought in the courts anyway, and Congress should consider the school construction problem on the simple basis of needed school facilities. The legal fight for anti-segregation would then proceed, school by school and case by case, wherever it is not accepted. This may take more time, but at least all of our children would not suffer as they now do, in overcrowded buildings with over-worked and—in some cases—poorly trained teachers.
For this year, the school bill fight is over—but it will have to begin again in the next session of Congress. I hope everyone will understand clearly what Republican trickery has done.
I must say I am relieved to know that the young Airman who did not want a "white sidewall" haircut is no longer imprisoned and subject to loss of rank and pay. This is one of the most ridiculous episodes created by some of our ultra-military-minded officers in quite a while. It would have been just laughable, if it had not been so tragic.
If there is one thing I dislike more than any other, it is sitting for my portrait. But Dr. Ralph Bunche, who had just had his portrait painted by the same artist, was persuasive enough to get me to sit for Mr. Robert Roche. It only took a little over two hours, and I hope it serves the artist's purpose, for he is making a record of Americans who have served in these initial years in helping to build the United Nations.
Posterity will certainly think I was a grim old lady, but it is a good likeness, and I think Mr. Roche is a very good painter.