JULY 13, 1959
HYDE PARK—I don't know how other people feel about the story last week on the refusal of a swank tennis club in Forest Hills, L. I., to permit Dr. Ralph Bunche's son—who has been taking tennis lessons at the club from the pro—to become a member and play there. I can only say I felt mortified that in the North we still have a club, the West Side Tennis Club, which is not ashamed to say that it bars Jews and Negroes from membership.
The members of this club may think themselves better than people of other races, and they may think that in their club and in their homes they can be justified today in refusing admittance to people on a basis of race, color or religion. But I would like to point out to them that bombs do not discriminate in this manner. When these people have helped the rest of us to lose the uncommitted areas of the world where two-thirds of the world's population exist, which are largely of non-Aryan race and of many religions and many colors, then perhaps they will realize what they have done to give us a Communist world—if not to destroy our civilization completely.
I hope that no colored champion and no Jewish champion will play tennis at this club again.
Of course, this kind of discrimination will not hurt the Bunches. They have too many open doors to feel a slight of this kind. But how can we in the North ask of the South the sacrifices that we are now asking if we countenance this kind of snobbish discrimination?
I thought the past few years had done away with snobbery in our country. I thought we had learned to respect people for what they are and for what they have accomplished, not for themselves alone but for their country and the world.
I wonder how many people in the West Side Tennis Club, when they stand before St. Peter, will be able to give as good an account of their motives and their achievements as Dr. Bunche and his children!
If you can't play tennis with Negroes, how come you are willing to let them be drafted into your army and die for you? I am ashamed for my white people. I am one of them, and their stupidity and cruelty make me cringe.
Those of you who have children from eight years old and up will, I think, find a book called "Children Around the World," by Miriam Troop, published by Grosset and Dunlap, a very helpful thing in giving them an idea of the world and its people. I have tried it out on my own young people who are here—as I try out on them the junior Literary Guild books for different ages, since I have many of all ages stay with me at different times during the summer. The response to this book was immediate in interest and, what is more important, it held their interest from country to country.