JUNE 17, 1959
NEW YORK—I have always felt that an excellent factor in the education of our children is to surround them with the things that we want them to care about. For instance, if one is fortunate enough to be able to acquire good prints of famous paintings, which can become part of a child's background, or if one has many books of different kinds in the house, I believe there will be a natural absorption of a cultural atmosphere that would tend to bring about good taste in the early days of a child's life.
Therefore, I was most interested to read that at Brandeis University, in Waltham, Mass., some of the young people interested in the arts have organized loans of exhibitions of paintings from different galleries in New York and Boston.
This led me to ask a person whose opinion I particularly respect in the artistic field why the students at Brandeis did not visit the museums in Boston. "Oh, they do," she said. "But living with the objects, by having them 'just around,' causes students to learn about them casually every day of their lives and leaves impressions with them ever after."
This idea of having original works of art in the atmosphere of general learning seems to me of real cultural value. And Dr. Walter Spink is to be congratulated, for he is mainly responsible for organizing such nonpaying activities of which these exhibitions are only a part of the university art program.
There has been much interest in the conviction of the four young white men in Tallahassee, Fla., who raped a young Negro coed. Many people felt that no white jury would come up with a verdict of guilty for this offense, but the evidence was too clear. I think it was a great step forward that this case was so firmly prosecuted and that the young men were brought to conviction. Being against capital punishment, however, I am glad that mercy was recommended by the jury, and I hope that future juries will so act in similar cases, whether proved or unproved rape and whether involving whites or Negroes.
What made the recent miscarriage of justice in a Mississippi case particularly sad was the fact that the young man involved was never proved guilty. He was kidnapped from his jail cell and lost his life without even going to trial. Such action is what's giving the South today a worldwide reputation for uneven justice.
Throughout our country and in many areas of the world the report published by three moderate and highly respected organizations—the American Friends Service Committee, the Department of Racial and Cultural Relations of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and the Southern Regional Council—will have great import. This report lists 530 specific cases of violence, reprisal and intimidation, and says that the record amounts to a widespread erosion of individual liberties.
This is something that should make all of us stop and think. We cannot expect other nations to divide our country and blame only part of it for occurrences such as these. They consider that our country as a whole is responsible.