FEBRUARY 22, 1941
WASHINGTON, Friday—Yesterday afternoon, in Washington, I visited a house on Independence Avenue, where exhibitions are held of children's art work; painting, ceramics and block printing. Children from all over the city had sent in work, but a good many children come to this house and work in their free time. Some of them were in the studio painting while we were there. They looked very happy and one little colored boy was doing "A Street Corner," which was extremely realistic.
I liked one story they told me about a little girl who was asked what she did at the art center and who answered: "They don't teach us anything. They just give us the courage to do things." Every inch of the house is used for some form of art work. The writers' project had some new pamphlets on exhibition which I had not seen before. I asked at once for several sets because they looked to me like the most simple and sensible manuals on various important subjects, such as government, how to buy a house, household training and so forth.
There is some difficulty about keeping these professional projects going here and elsewhere. They are not considered part of national defense and if anything is going to be cut, these projects are. The sponsors of the art project here have brought out a leaflet on the outside of which they simply put:"The strength of our nation lies in the skills of its citizens." I came away with a sense of tremendous urgency about preserving these projects in the interests of real defense of our country.
I found Mrs. Samuel Rosenman at the White House after a day spent attending a series of conferences on housing. She is doing a wonderful piece of work in New York City and I am always glad to have her come down here and contact the people who are working here. Mrs. Gifford Pinchot also came to see me. Finally I had to hurry to be ready for an early dinner, for Miss Dorothy Thompson and I had to be at Constitution Hall for the Town Hall Meeting at a quarter before eight.
I really enjoyed the evening, for all I had to do was to preside. That meant introducing Miss Dorothy Thompson and reading the questions which were sent up for the panel and Miss Thompson to answer. Her address was interesting, but her handling of the questions was really inspiring. Even Congressman Mundt, of South Dakota, who, I think, had come prepared to uphold the opposition point of view, enjoyed it. In fact, I think everyone had a good time. The differences of opinion were friendly but fervent, and I hope served to clarify the points discussed.