December 23, 1960
NEW YORK—It is interesting to note that it is the white students in many of the Southern universities who are really carrying the fight for integration. Students from the University of Texas, for instance, have set themselves the task of picketing the Austin theatres, which are not integrated, in an effort to bring before the public—in spite of a news blackoutthe fact that the city's theatres are segregated.
At times class assignments require that students report on certain motion picture films, and such assignments cannot be carried out by Negro students. In this effort the students have had wide faculty support.
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The first theatre to be picketed was the Texas Theatre, which is part of a Texas chain. It is here that class assignments must sometimes be covered, and Negro students from the university are barred because of segregation.
The second theatre picketed was the Varsity Theatre, one in the chain of Interstate Theatres, Inc., which is a subsidiary of American Broadcasting Company-Paramount.
I am personally grateful to the Texas students for making the effort to bring about the end of this kind of segregation in their state. But I wonder why students have to be without the help of the community in general.
We in the U.S., where we have so many individual states, must still consider that what happens in one area is the responsibility of all of us—because all of us make up the U.S. as a whole. So, those of us who live outside the Southern states cannot in good conscience say the feelings which we have seen depicted on the faces of women in jeering Louisiana crowds or say the rules that still hold good in public segregation in other areas are no concern of the rest of us.
The responsibility cannot be carried by the Southern states alone. The whole country has a responsibility for what the individual states stand for.
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This may be difficult for us to accept unless we think of it in terms of our relations with foreign countries. Our whole country is responsible for the picture we paint of what democracy means.
What must the countries of Asia and Africa have thought of us when our newspapers carried such pictures as they did after four little Negro girls were taken under guard to school in New Orleans?