FEBRUARY 12, 1960
NEW YORK—What almost certainly will be an historic series of meetings in Washington, D.C., will take place on February 17, 18 and 19, when an effort will be made "to focus major attention on the psychological, educational, social and ethical consequences of segregation and their effect on children of all races."
The meetings will be sponsored by the recently organized "NOW," which stands for National Organization of Women for Equality in Education and comprises 17 national women's organizations with a total membership of 14 million. These women have joined hands to fight segregation in the nation's public schools and for the past six months they have combined forces in this coordinated council.
The statement made by Mrs. Thelma Richman of Philadelphia, chairman of the planning committee for the conference, voices what women all over the country have felt.
"We have watched with dismay how an attitude of permissive lawlessness regarding the issue of integration has invaded all areas of American life," she said.
"Because we feel a special responsibility to the nation's children, and because we are deeply concerned with the effects on them of the integration struggle, the seventeen national women's organizations of varying religious and racial backgrounds have come together in `NOW for Equality' to deal with some of the crucial aspects of the problem.
"Among our deepest concerns in this area are a breakdown of moral values, an increasing disregard of law and order, a growing disrespect for education itself and the inevitable consequences to our children and to our society."
Many, many women of varying backgrounds are joining together for this conference. Let me give you just a few of the names of the sponsors of the meetings: Miss Fannie Hurst, Dr. Marion Kenworthy, Dorothy Kenyon, Justine Wise Polier, Caroline Simon, Lillian Smith, Ruth H. Bunche, Mrs. Roy Wilkins, Mrs. Lester P. Granger—a mixed group but one that represents many women everywhere in the country.
Mrs. M. E. Tilly of Atlanta, Ga., who has long seemed to many of us to have the kind of courage and persistence that alone wins the long-range battles that change the mores of people, summed up the purpose of the forthcoming conference very simply:
"We aim to give American women a conviction that will not let them rest, a courage that will not fail, and a faith that will not shrink."
Let us hope that great things will come out of these sessions.
I am going down to Washington for at least one of the meetings. But the people who will make a real impact, I hope, on the country at large are such speakers as Bishop James A. Pike of California, whom we used to claim proudly as a citizen of New York; Judge Justine Wise Polier; and Professor Kenneth Clark of the College of the City of New York.