If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

June 1959


In your own homes, have you taken any of the precautions against atomic attack recommended by the Civil Defense authorities?

I don't think there is anything that we can do in my cottage in the country beyond the ordinary precautions which we have already taken. At present in the city I am living in a hotel, and I imagine its officials have taken all the legal precautions.


In your last book you mentioned a daughter-in-law named Minnewa. The name is such an unusual one, could you tell me its origin?

I think it must be an Indian name. Minnewa's family lived in the West and no doubt knew Indian history and people.


I don't see why all discrimination against Negroes is blamed on the South. What about the discrimination in housing throughout the North? Don't you think it is just as bad to keep Negroes out of certain communities and certain neighborhoods as it is to keep them out of certain schools?

I have repeatedly said that the North has one essential step to take in complying with the Supreme Court decision. It will, of course, take time, but discrimination in housing must be wiped out and such communities as are completely segregated in our big cities must disappear. The South has many steps to take, and perhaps the most important is permitting Negroes to register and to vote. The drive the Communists are making to induce Asian and African people to join with them is frequently based on their claim that all people are brothers and that we in the United States do not acknowledge or believe in the International Declaration of Human Rights. The moral impact of this document on the world has been considerable, and we who voted in favor of the resolution accompanying it have an obligation to try to live up to its standards. Both the North and the South must keep moving forward toward equality and justice for all our people.


What is the most serious mistake you ever made?

I have made so many mistakes in my life that I really can't pick out the most serious one. Possibly too much belief in discipline when my older children were young was one of my most serious mistakes, though I am not sure.


Don't you think it would help reduce automobile accidents if there were an age limit beyond which people were not allowed to drive?

An age limit does not seem very sensible, but a periodic examination to make sure that an older person can still pass the driving tests would seem to me a wise safeguard. Many of our accidents occur with young people because of failure in judgment, a more reckless attitude, and a perfectly natural affinity to speed. I have never looked into the statistics, but I would be surprised if people over fifty had more accidents than people under fifty.


Can you explain why, in spite of huge food surpluses, it's necessary for the Government to spend so much money on farm aid?

The two are not exactly connected. Money is not spent on farm aid. An effort is made to bring the prices for foodstuffs to a level where those engaged in agriculture and industry reap about the same rewards for their work. Surpluses are apt to depress farm prices, and so the Government tries to prevent them or to help get rid of them. I think we should review our whole farm policy in the light of world needs, and I believe Congress shows signs of thinking along these lines.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, June 1959

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
[ ERPP bio | VIAF | WorldCat | DPLA | SNAC ]

McCall's, volume 86, June 1959

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Digital edition published 2014, 2016 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
The George Washington University
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