JULY 27, 1954
NEW YORK, Monday—Many of us in the North think that the decision of the Supreme Court on the equality of educational opportunity for all our citizens is a decision which largely affects only one area of our country. As a matter of fact, since all discrimination is a handicap, whether it be in education or employment, we should examine everywhere throughout the country where we might improve conditions by eliminating any type of discrimination.
Not long ago it was brought to my attention that the great shortage of teachers and nurses, which we so often hear about, would be considerably alleviated if we could remove certain barriers which have existed and use our citizens, regardless of race, in whatever occupations they are qualified to fill.
Strides are being made in this direction in the nursing services through the American Nurses Association. Before World War II, only 42 of over 1200 schools of nursing in the United States accepted Negro applicants. Today 710 schools state that they will accept Negro applicants.
The armed services have helped considerably by eliminating segregation barriers. Though there was a time when no Negro nurse held a commission in any branch of the armed services, today Negro nurses are commissioned in all branches and are upgraded and sent overseas on the same basis as white nurses.
Many nurses' associations and student nurses' associations today function on an integrated basis. And this year, at the American Nurses Association Convention, the House of Delegates unanimously accepted recommendations to the effect that: (1) The services of all qualified nurses must be used solely on the basis of merit. (2) Appointment to committees or nominations for election to office in any local, state or national professional organizations should be made solely on the basis of professional qualifications. (3) Student nurses' associations should work with their local Leagues for Nursing in publicizing to all high school and college students the need for nursing services and the opportunities for nursing education.
It would seem that the nurses themselves have realized the importance of using all our citizens who wish to enter this profession.
I hope that much the same thing will happen where teachers are concerned. With integration in the schools, it may well be that some colored teachers will have to do some special work to qualify for positions in completely integrated schools. But once qualifications are met, all positions should be open to all citizens, on a basis of ability rather than race.