MAY 5, 1956
HYDE PARK, N.Y—I was rereading on Wednesday evening an article written for the New York Times Magazine of February 7, 1954 by Chester Bowles. It was called "The Negro, Progress and Challenge" and in it Bowles brought out one of the basic factors in the solution of the racial problem in the United States.
On January 1, 1963, we will celebrate 100 years of emancipation of the Negro. In other words, we are very near the 100-year mark, and that is a long time—if we really mean to carry out Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation—to correct the evils of slavery and prove to the world that we really do believe in equality of all human beings.
Of course, equality is conditioned by the gifts that God gave us, and all that human beings can do is to refrain from creating inequalities of opportunity which prevent people from rightfully reaching their full development.
White people do not attain the same conditions of either intellectual or material achievements, but they do not spend their lives battling man-made discrimination. We know that there is the opportunity to develop that which we have within us and that no one will turn against us because of our race, religion or color.
In this article, Bowles brought out that the future of the white peoples of the world well may hang on our ability to solve the racial problem in the U.S. and that time for this is running out.
One hundred years is a long time to wait. Our Negro citizens have been patient beyond belief. The question that so many of us have been asked over and over again, "Do you believe the Negro as capable of development as the white man?" should be answered once and for all with, "I do believe that, given the same opportunity with discrimination removed, the Negro is as capable of achieving any standard of success."
God has not put any more limitations on the Negro than he has on the rest of us. But man-made circumstances perhaps have made it more difficult for him to develop his potentialities. These circumstances men can change.
The other question often asked is: "Would you like your daughter to marry a Negro?"
Intermarriage of races does not of necessity follow the granting of equal opportunity, for marriage is purely a personal matter. But I think we must face the fact that, while people of the same color and race generally prefer to marry each other, there have been mixtures of races just as there have been mixtures of religions, and no one can either prevent them or make them successful or unsuccessful. This is one of those things time alone can resolve, with the individuals themselves making the decisions.
For the people of this country, the question is whether they can continue to exist without giving all citizens full equality before the law and equal dignity as human beings. We must make this decision and upon it depends our whole future and that of white peoples everywhere.
(Copyright, 1956, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 5, 1956
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University Old Main Building, Suite 406 1951 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20052
- Brick, Christopher (Editor)
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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30
TEI-P5 edition published on 2017-04-28
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