If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

August 1962


I read recently that Dr. Ralph Bunche was being mentioned as a possible candidate for Senator from New York. If he were nominated and elected, do you think there would be any racial antagonism toward him from any Southern Senators?

I do not think there would be any real antagonism, but people from the South might think it served their particular purposes to appear antagonistic. There might be a struggle between Senatorial courtesy and political expediency, but I would certainly be hopeful that Senatorial courtesy would always prevail.


In view of the recent tragedies in the prizefighting field, don't you think professional boxing should be outlawed?

I have always felt that prizefighting was a rather good sport, but I think that the rules should be revised and the referees chosen with greater care. I myself have little real knowledge of this sport, but many people whom I respect believe there is value in continuing boxing, with proper regulation.


What would be your choice of the United States' national flower?

Though it would be very hard to select a national flower, I guess I would chose the rose, because it is grown successfully in most parts of the country and there are enough varieties so that people may have whatever color and size they like best.


Deploring war as you do, if you had been a man during wartime, do you think you would have been a conscientious objector?

I am quite sure I would not have been a conscientious objector. My religion does not happen to require that kind of action. I have a very strong feeling that, much as I deplore war, if this is the way we carry our burden of citizenship, I would not want somebody else to carry my burden.


We hear much criticism of what are called Life Adjustment courses in our schools. These are nonacademic courses that seem to have mushroomed in recent years and include everything from driver-education to charm courses. Obviously, some are valuable and some useless, but it seems to me they are not the province of the school system and should be taught either by parents or extracurricularly. Do you agree?

I think courses should not be added to the teachers' work or the budgets unless they are considered basic and useful. Obviously, in a given community with a special problem that schools might help solve, the parents and teachers both must use their good judgment.


What effect do you think President Kennedy's recent victory over steel-industry leaders will have on his relations with big business in general?

There will probably be a coolness in the relations between big business and the President for some little time to come. However, I think that, on the whole, business is coming to a better understanding of President Kennedy's position and recognizing his genuine desire for fair treatment for both business and labor.


Among your many philanthropies, do you give financial support to any particular college?

No. I don't think I have given financial support on any large basis to any college or university. I have an interest in Harvard because my husband and all but one of my boys were educated there. I am also on the board of Brandeis University and have honorary degrees from a number of other universities and colleges.


Have you ever tried your hand at anything artistic—fiction or poetry writing, painting, sculpture, or composing music?

I have no artistic gifts, I grieve to say. I would love to write fiction, because I think in many ways it can give a truer picture of life than one can possibly give any other way. However, I do not have this talent and have therefore had to make the most of what the good Lord chose to give me—namely, a rather quick mind, which has been trained for observation and analysis.


What do you think is the most serious mistake parents make with their children?

Children are human beings, and each is unique. What is a mistake with one may not be with another. Parents must study each child and meet his individual needs as best as they can. Perhaps what all of us need in our relationships with children is a clearer memory of our own childhoods.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, August 1962

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

McCall's, volume 89, August 1962

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

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