MAY 2, 1959
HYDE PARK—I had the pleasure last Saturday and Sunday of entertaining in Hyde Park two Russian women, the older one an engineer and the other a Moscow lawyer. These women came over here under the auspices of the National Council of Women, their itinerary was planned by the council, and I think it was a good pilot experiment.
We may have learned something that will help us to do better for other travelers under the National Council's auspices. It seemed to me, for instance, that in a number of cases these visitors had been shown the same type of activity in many communities, when actually samples in a few places would have been more than sufficient.
On the whole, however, I think they got a very good picture of many parts of our country and of many different American homes and American people.
Two members of the National Council will go this summer to Russia and the Soviets will, I am sure, find the same desire to show our representatives their country and its people.
The two Russian women stressed the fact that they had been treated with friendliness everywhere. We feel strongly that it is important that the people get to know each other so that our relations do not depend entirely on officials knowing officials, though we realize well that these exchanges between people may not bring about better official decisions. We also realize that the forthcoming foriegn ministers' meetings in Geneva will be more basic in their importance to the present peace of the world. Nevertheless, for the future it may well be that the greater understanding among the people may bring about a better atmosphere surrounding official conversations.
Of course, during our time at Hyde Park I took my guests to visit my husband's memorial and on Saturday evening we went to a meeting of our local Chapel Corner Grange to celebrate its 60th anniversary.
The program was like programs of this kind all over this country, and people attending were the people who make up the backbone of any community, people who accept community responsibility and who have learned to work together in their grange organization for mutual advancement in the particular interest of their grange. But invariably these same people are concerned with many other civic groups and their interest is for the community as a whole, in which they recognize their own advancement.
I was glad to be able to show my Soviet visitors anything as truly representative of American life as this type of civic activity.
The other evening I went to see Sidney Poitier in "A Raisin in the Sun." Lorraine Hansberry wrote a delightful play which, incidentally, I had read in manuscript, but Sidney Poitier brings it to life and he is well supported by all the other actors.
This play has been praised by all the critics, so they do not need my praise to add to its popularity. But I would like to thank both the author and Mr. Poitier for an evening that had real meaning, and I hope meaning that will sink into the conscience of America.