The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HYDE PARK, Tuesday—The other day I received a copy of the magazine, Ebony, featuring the story of the Johnsons who several years ago figured in a dramatic story in the Reader's Digest called, "Lost Boundaries."

This story tells of what happened to Dr. and Mrs. Johnson during their life in Keene, N.H., where Dr. Johnson is a well-known radiologist. In plain words, nothing happened. There were very few Negroes in Keene, but none of the friends the Johnsons had made since living there was prepared to turn down a good doctor and a loyal friend when they suddenly found he was a Negro and not a white man.

This is a story that should be read by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Robeson because I have always felt that their great loyalty to the Soviet Union arose from the fact that the Russians treated them like great artists, as an educated man and woman, and because of that earned their undying loyalty. Had they lived in Keene, N.H., or in some other small town where there was only one other colored family, they might never have gone to the Soviets and they might have been decently treated all their lives.

Such little things decide the fate of men. But I am very glad that Ebony wrote up this story, which also follows up what has happened to the Johnson children. Two of them have married white people, one married a Negro girl, and one is still unmarried and in school.

All of the Johnsons have had a job adjusting to being Negro after having been brought up as white. But they have made the change successfully and the problems of their lives seem to be in a fair way to being met and conquered.

How one wishes that all problems of racial prejudice could be solved as simply. Dr. Johnson says, in a quote from this article, that we in the United States have pampered our prejudices and let them get the better of us. I often think that is true. If we would face these courageously, perhaps it would not be necessary for Negroes to have to "pass" and be "accepted."

It has always seemed to me that there are problems that have to be met as individual problems. Marriage is one of them. No one can decide for you what will be a good marriage and under what circumstances you would be willing to join your life with that of another human being. Some would certainly be held back by the possibility of difficulties that might arise through marriage; others go serenely through the whole experience, meet each problem as it arises and find a solution.

I have known both white and colored people that I would prefer not to meet again and would certainly never dream of asking to my home. On the other hand, I have known white and colored people who, from the first time I met them, I knew I wished to have as friends.

Let us hope soon that we will master our prejudices and stand better before the eyes of the Lord.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 16, 1952

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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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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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.