DECEMBER 31, 1957
HYDE PARK—The other evening I was privileged to see a film which had been made of Marion Anderson's trip for the State Department to the Far East. It is now about to be released for public showing, and I hope that people in every part of this country will see it. First, it is beautifully done, and next I think it will introduce many people to one of our great Americans.
Marion Anderson is one of our greatest singers, but in addition she is a very great woman and a fine citizen of the U.S. That the State Department chose to send her as an ambassador of goodwill to the Far East is something we should all be grateful for. She undoubtedly made a great many friends for us, just by her mere presence and the admiration she evoked when she sang.
In the film you see the audiences and the reactions to her singing. I watched the leaders of many of those countries with great interest and in no case was there not a warm response to her glorious voice and personality. U Nu of Burma beamed, and so did Nehru of India. When she sang the national anthem of the newest republic of Malaya in their own language, there was astonishment and tremendous satisfaction on the faces of the leaders and the people.
On the trip, however, she did far more than meet the heads of states and use her great gift for the pleasure of her audiences. She found time to visit schools and you see her speaking with a class of young students learning English. You see her being interviewed by a woman who is evidently skilled in the art of TV interviews and who asks questions which draw from Miss Anderson thoughtful answers as to the origin and reason for her spiritual beliefs. This is an area which is important to the people of Asia to understand, for we have given very little leadership in communicating the thoughts which stir our souls to the people of a part of the world who are deeply stirred by their own beliefs and whose beliefs enter into the daily routine of living to a greater extent than we sometimes allow our own to do.
Marion Anderson's simple explanation that her mother was a believer who brought her daughters up to be believers, and that this belief motivated her whole life and her attitude toward people, would be well understood by those in the Far Eastern world. Her speech at Ghandi's tomb, in its simplicity and great understanding, must have moved the Indian leaders and the Indian people more than many formal scholarly addresses could possibly have done.
The film gives you a realization that we sent an ambassador to the Far East who really understood the souls and the aspirations of the people she met, both high and low. Marion Anderson could move them as few of our diplomats are capable of moving them. We therefore owe a debt of gratitude to Ed Murrow, who made this record which should be most helpful to the people of our country in their understanding of what we need to be and do if the people of Asia are to believe in the leadership of the U.S.