JUNE 23, 1960
NEW YORK—I have been considerably interested in the controversy over the high-school graduate in Westbury, Long Island, N.Y., who had the courage to refuse an American Legion citizenship award because it came "from an organization whose policies I cannot respect."
The American Legion is a powerful organization and the student, Stephen Bayne, perhaps took on more than he alone could very well explain to the public, so I think it is only fair that some of us help him.
While I respect the Legion for many of the things it has done, and while I certainly have great respect for the men who fought for our country, I still cannot respect the attitude that the Legion has taken, for instance, on the United Nations. This position, clothed in patriotism and practically the same as that of the DAR, presents UNESCO, a specialized agency of the U.N., as being Communist.
When its own committee reported that UNESCO was not Communist, the Legion, without reading the report, announced at its convention that this U.N. agency was Communist. This is childish and the kind of behavior we certainly do not want to uphold as a pattern for our young people to follow.
It is very unfair for the public school authorities to withhold any honors coming to Stephen because of his attitude. They should be pleased that education has given one young boy the strength to stand for things in which he believes. This is an achievement of which the whole Westbury school, particularly the faculty, should be proud.
There will be given tomorrow (June 24), at New York's Town Hall, a program of African music and dance that seeks to show authentically the influence of music from that continent on American society. A member of the Nigerian parliament, Anthony Anehoro, will speak.
This program is being undertaken by the Union of Nigerian Students, who feel that too little has been said in this country about the fact that Nigeria, which has the largest population in Africa, will soon be independent.
"Our aim," they say, "is to correct the wrong impressions of some American people in relation to Africa in general and to Nigeria in particular. We have, as a Union, had a long history of independent existence—that is to say that we have carried out our programs without any outside aid and have sought to disseminate what we know of African culture at all levels."
They will feature some good performers on this program—Babatunde Olatunji and his dancers and drummers, together with Al Minns and the Leon James Jazz Dancers—which should be interesting to young and old and bring to many a better understanding of what is going on in Africa today.