MARCH 19, 1943
WASHINGTON, Thursday—I wonder whether you agree with the statement I made yesterday, that we cannot overcome difficulties unless we recognize them.
In talking to some Russians once, I was struck by the fact that they kept insisting that everything in their country was perfect. It seemed to me, at the time, as rather childish and adolescent, but forgiveable in a young country trying a new experiment. In us, a mature democracy, it would seem to me unforgiveable to deny the existence of unpleasant facts.
A certain gentleman in Congress seems to have forgotten that groups of sharecroppers attracted the attention of the whole country not so very long ago, because they were living along the highways and their living conditions were as bad as bad could be. This gentleman thinks it odd that a group of people are willing to back a union which will try to improve conditions for these people, and that acknowledges the fact of the conditions under which sharecroppers in the United States of America have had to live in certain parts of our country.
Perhaps the gentleman in question, who mentions only three people on this committee, would like to have it also recorded that there are a few others members of this committee—among them Bishop Edward L. Parsons, Governor Saltonstall of Massachusetts, Mr. Raymond Gram Swing and Mr. William Allen White. Perhaps this gentleman in Congrees [originally: Congress] would like to hear the stories that some of the these sharecroppers tell, not just the poor Negroes, but some of his own white people. I hardly think he would approve of these conditions.
Since they exist, I think we had better set ourselves to correcting them. That is the mature way to approach all undesirable situations. Of course, if he approves of them, then I can well understand that he does not wish to have them mentioned.
Hitler's propagandists can make far greater use of things that are wrong and which we do not try to correct, than they can when we try to improve conditions. This member of Congress is evidently not reading some of the things which the German propagandists have said about situations which have occurred in this country, at least he makes no mention of them.
I am going to speak today at a War Savings Bond rally in Upper Darby, near Philadelphia, and tonight at Swarthmore College. I shall be back in Washington before the night is over.