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


NEW YORK, Thursday—My 24 hours in Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Fla. the other day provided in some ways an amazing experience. Ten years ago in Florida there could not have been a dinner such as I attended in which the two races sat together and enjoyed each other's company.

At the board meeting on Wednesday morning the discussion arose about the United Negro College Fund appeal. One lady brought up the fact that some very intelligent Negro leaders and some influential white people such as Judge and Mrs. Waring of South Carolina, disapprove of the fund because they feel it supports segregation.

This led to the discussion and Mrs. Bethune, with her usual wisdom, stated the case in the following words: "I am opposed to segregation of every kind, but the Negro colleges need to be supported to meet the present-day situation facing the young Southern Negro."

Florida's secondary schools are improving very much, but, as yet, the Southern Negro cannot meet Northern standards. Therefore, the idea that all of them should be helped to go to unsegregated universities is really not practical. However, it is the consensus that the teaching and the equipment in the Southern Negro colleges are constantly improving so that, when the day arrives that no segregation is in effect anywhere, these colleges will be able to open their doors to Negro and white students. And in many of them the standards will be at the same level.

Without the help of the United Negro College Fund many of the Southern Negro colleges could not have made the advances they have achieved in the past few years.

It was decided, therefore, to endorse the fund in a resolution, hoping there would be even greater support so that the fund may reach the goal of $25,000,000. If this goal is attained, Bethune-Cookman College will be well on its way to setting standards that will make it possible for white and colored students to receive the necessary educational opportunities.

After the morning board meeting I went off to do a broadcast and then returned to Mrs. Bethune's house where I had a belated lunch. One of the members of the board—a young man who has taken his father's place—came over to talk to Mrs. Bethune and me.

Daytona is considering the sale to Negroes of a certain area that can become one of the finest beach resorts anywhere in the South, which would be named Bethune Beach. Again, this is segregation, but Mrs. Bethune and her young trustee feel that it is a first step—the bridge between having no recreation for the colored people and the time when all public beaches would be open to all citizens.

I do not like segregation any more than Mrs. Bethune does, but I can see that in the South these steps are almost essential. How must young colored people feel about segregation of the ocean? They see young white people enjoying the natural sport of their age, but for them these areas are forbidden.

In Sarasota Karl Bickel told me that the local government had been considering for a long time a beach for the colored people but could not arrive at a final decision. He felt that such a recreation area would be a safeguard and should be provided.

I hope that in more and more of these Florida cities the present pattern will be changed, not by Northerners, who would be intruding, but by the Southerners themselves.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 20, 1953

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.