SEPTEMBER 7, 1949
NEW YORK, Tuesday—Now that I have had time to read the results of all the efforts that were made to keep the peace at the concert given Sunday near Peekskill, N.Y. , and the amount of real harm that was done in spite of all the state police and local officers, I think I must reiterate that it seems to me quite disgraceful to allow this kind of lawlessness. One hundred and forty-five people were injured. Fifty buses were stoned, and a number of private cars, many of which did not contain people who had been at this concert, were molested and damaged.
This is not the type of thing that we believe in the United States. If peaceful picketing leads to this, all the pickets do is to give the Communists good material for propaganda.
I dislike everything that Paul Robeson is now saying. I am opposed to him politically and I think he is doing great harm to his own people. He is persuading very few people to go along with him, but he is creating extremely bad feeling.
I still believe, however, that if he wants to give a concert, or speak his mind in public, no one should prevent him from doing so. No one who disagrees is obliged to stay or even to go to hear him. I have not knowingly been to a meeting at which Paul Robeson was to speak or to sing since the day I went to a concert several years ago and discovered how he was abusing his art. Other people are certainly free to do as I have done.
Lack of followers and ridicule will do far more than violence to remove whatever menace Mr. Robeson may be. I was particularly sorry to hear that one of the buses and a number of cars which were manhandled by a particular group that was not controlled by the police authorities were cars that were returning from the Hyde Park Memorial Library and held no people who had been to the Robeson concert.
Tonight I shall address the Conference on Educational Problems of Special Cultural Groups at Teachers College, Columbia University and my subject will be Human Rights. Later in the evening I will board a night plane for Atlanta.
My plan is to drive out to Warm Springs to see what the state has done with the little house that belonged to my husband and which he left to the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. It has been made into a memorial shrine and has attracted many visitors.
All day Thursday I will attend the meetings in Atlanta of the Southern Regional Council, Inc., speaking that night on the Declaration of Human Rights. I hope to start to drive home Thursday night or very early Friday morning, reaching Hyde Park again Saturday afternoon unless something should occur to change my plans!
I have found that carefully laid plans are frequently subject to circumstances beyond our control and I have long since given up being rigid about anything. Many of us, I think, as we get older feel that changing our plans is an impossible thing to do, but I can't help feeling that one should grow more flexible with age. If we do we will find it easier to adjust both to the whims of fate and the vagaries of other human beings.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1949, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC., REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART PROHIBITED.)
Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced
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About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 7, 1949
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007
- Brick, Christopher (Editor)
- Regenhardt, Christy (Associate Editor)
- Black, Allida M. (Editor)
- Binker, Mary Jo (Associate Editor)
- Alhambra, Christopher C. (Electronic Text Editor)
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