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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt


NEW YORK, Thursday—I read in one of the New York City newspapers a reprint of an editorial from The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune. What it says is absolutely true, if you believe in states' rights, and since almost everyone in the United States does believe in states' rights then you must accept the thesis of this editorial.

It says that states' rights must be so used that the states do protect the rights of every individual, regardless of race or creed or color. It commended North Carolina's action "in indicting and convicting sixty-two Ku-Kluxers who took part in flogging and terrorizing Negro victims in the Carolinas" and said that this action will speak more loudly than the finest of speeches based on constitutional rights which are not backed by performance in the states.

It has seemed necessary from time to time, as our nation grew, to put a certain number of matters in the hands of the Federal government—matters that were not placed there originally by the founding fathers. Those moves were matters of judgment and agreement among the states.

The Tampa Tribune editorial recognizes the fact, which all of us know to be true, that all violations of civil rights do not occur in the South. There are many violations and discriminations that occur in the Northern states. Nevertheless, because our largest minority has a greater number of its people in the South, it has been easier there to notice violations.

Right in New York City, where this editorial was reprinted, we cannot wash our hands of the existence of Harlem and its crowded colored population nor of the overcrowded Puerto Rican district adjacent to it. This overcrowding is due to discrimination in large part. And while we, in New York City, are gradually trying to remedy it through new housing which is planned on an interracial basis, we have not yet accomplished enough to feel that the problem of erasing discrimination is only a Southern problem.

If performance in the Southern states can be made to come up to the standards suggested by this editorial, they will be pushing some of the states in other parts of the country to better practices.

The West Coast can look at the rest of us with a certain amount of satisfaction, so far as the Negro problem is concerned, because its Negro population is small. But its Oriental population is large, and I am not sure that it has conquered all discrimination in that area, particularly when it is a question of a mixed marriage.

I came to New York City yesterday in order to be a guest Wednesday evening on Mr. Theodore Granik's program, "Youth Wants to Know," and I looked forward to talking with some of the young people and answering their questions.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 15, 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.