JUNE 21, 1951
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—The first thing I did Tuesday morning was to pick flowers in my garden and add them to those that had already been arranged in the house. I have some of the loveliest white roses this year. So far we have been able to control the rose bugs so that our flowers are beautiful beyond words.
I am afraid my little orange lizards have left our wooded roads for good this year. The ground is still damp and the sun was shining Tuesday morning, but none of them was out to enjoy the warmth. Their short season of life must have come to an end.
In the mail I found a most interesting speech, which was given by Miss Lillian Smith of Georgia, author of "Strange Fruit" and "Killers of the Dream." She was speaking at the commencement exercises at Kentucky State College early this month.
It is most interesting to me that even as courageous a person as Miss Smith could confidently state that in 10 years time she hoped to see segregation wiped out in the South, as well as throughout the rest of our country. She even suggests that the idea of equality among men is so much on the march throughout the world that even South Africa and some other areas of the world that have great racial prejudices are going to see these prejudices disappear.
There are a few other points she made that seem to me important enough to repeat here. "It is a very important thing for us to remember, today," she said, "that no government can make men good—even God cannot do that. What democracy can and does do is to protect men's right to make themselves as good as they want to be. No government can rid men of poverty, or of ill health, or of ignorance. What democracy does—and no other form of government has ever done more—is to protect its citizens' right to rid themselves of poverty and ill health and ignorance; and to safeguard its people's capacity for human growth." Also, she went on, "dreaming, talking, acting: this is the way that free men bring change about, whether it is change within themselves, or within their culture or laws.
"These changes taking place in the South are good news for you and me—but not for everybody. Certainly not for the politicians. The old-line politician has used racial fears so long that without this powerful weapon he feels politically castrated."
Then toward the end she encouraged the young people to make sure that on this earth we give all men "two fundamental rights of mankind: the right to grow and the right to be different; knowing that these two rights make strong, unique individuals, democracy will be cherished and made to work across the whole earth."
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 21, 1951
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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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30
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