My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON, Friday—Yesterday afternoon I went on a trip which covered many areas, in the outskirts of town and right in the city. It was planned to show me how new buildings for white occupation were encroaching on areas which had once been open for Negro housing, and how even in areas which seemed far enough away from the present white building operations, there was objection to land being developed for Negro housing units.

The few new buildings to go up on Congress Heights will not solve much of the housing problem. The land that the zoning commission now has under consideration is not actually on Bradbury Heights, but down below it. A Negro cemetery occupies some of the neighboring land, and it would seem quite obvious that the neighboring land should be open to building for Negro defense workers. It is thought, however, that perhaps this may be the direction in which the white community on the heights may desire to grow.

I do think that a job can be done by a complete city planning program, which would perhaps increase the number of Negro people housed in existing Negro areas, by changing the type of buildings. This, however, would not be sufficient to meet the whole problem, and I cannot see how this problem is going to be solved unless more areas, are given over to the building of Negro housing .

The claim is, of course, that Negro housing will lower the value of the adjacent real estate. But where there is new and modern housing, the community, whether it is white or colored, may not show any marked differences in value. Certainly where now there are little islands of very old houses, surrounded by new and modern white developements, the old houses are an eyesore. That need not be the case with modern buildings and, therefore, the deterioration in values in the neighborhood we hope would not occur. However, whatever happens, this is a democracy. These are our citizens, and their right to live decently at the same costs and under similar conditions as other citizens I think must be accepted by all. Present conditions add to the poor health and delinquency problems of the whole city.

This is not only a problem for the District of Columbia. It is a problem which many cities face and I think sooner or later more communities will have to face it.

Last night I attended the anniversary dinner in celebration of the founding of the Woman's National Democratic Club. Mrs. J. Borden Harriman, one of the founders and the first president of the club, presided. Mrs. Woodrow Wilson and many others of the officers and early members were present. It was a pleasant and memorable occasion.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 22, 1944

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

TEI-P5 edition published on 2017-04-28

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.