APRIL 26, 1952
NEW YORK, Friday—Someone has sent me a letter which appeared in the New York Herald Tribune on April 20, 1952. I want to reproduce it in my column because I think it is a sign that our younger generation understands democracy and is willing to live it. The letter had first appeared in the Middletown (N.Y.) Times Herald, and it follows: "Editor the Times Herald:
"For more years than anyone can remember the Senior Class of Middletown High School has spent its Easter vacation in our nation's capital. They have gone to Washington to have a good time. They have also gone to be inspired at the shrines of our national heritage. After their trip they have loved our country the more because they have spent these spring days in her capital—together.
"In 1950 a Negro girl was graduated from our high school. When her classmates tried to make the usual arrangements for their Washington trip they found that Washington, in the eyes of the gentlemen who govern the city, is 'a southern town' before it is the capital of the United States of America. They finally made arrangements with a hotel they would not have considered under other circumstances. Then they discovered their classmate could not eat with them in Washington, could not ride with them in some public conveyances, and could not enter the shrines of their common heritage through the same door as her white friends. To save those friends embarrassment, the young lady did not go to Washington.
"This year there are five Negroes in our Senior Class. Last week the class considered the problem of our Easter vacation trip. The five young citizens whose faces happen to be black gracefully offered to withdraw from the trip. We, their classmates, declined their offer. At our meeting we voted overwhelmingly to spend our Easter vacation in—Boston, Mass.
"We hope our action will inspire other schools so that the gentlemen who govern the capital of the United States as 'a southern town' will take thought. We would like to see the day when all citizens of this country are treated as citizens in the first city in the land for which their brothers die. We would like to see the day when all the people whose taxes pay for the beautiful buildings may walk through the front doors of those buildings.
"We expect to have a good time in Boston. We will not see the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States of America, but we will know we are living those documents. And we see, on Boston Common, the Shaw Memorial. As we look upon that proud white face among the proud dark faces of his troops, each of us will have the right to say with the gallant young colonel, 'Lord, here am I with the brothers Thou hast given me."'
"The Senior Class
"Middletown High School"
These young people have taken not only a Christian attitude but they have been willing to sacrifice for their beliefs. I think this is an encouraging sign for the future of our United States of America.