My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, N.Y—I spent an hour again on Thursday at the Fund for the Republic offices fulfilling my obligation to see the various kinds of TV productions. Then I attended a board meeting of the Citizens Committee for Children, spent two hours in the afternoon in the office of the American Association for the United Nations and attended the civil rights rally in Madison Square Garden.

The rally was an impressive meeting, and after my short speech (most of the speakers were limited, as I was, to 10 minutes) I had the pleasure of interviewing Miss Autherine Lucy, the student who made application to enter the undergraduate body at the University of Alabama.

In a number of Southern states, integration already has been achieved to a certain degree in university graduate schools, since it was impossible to provide equally good schools at those levels for Negroes. In a few states, this also might be true on the undergraduate level.

We can never forget the statement, which I think cannot be denied, that discrimination in itself creates inequality and that the equal-but-separate doctrine really never had any validity because of that basic fact.

Nevertheless, the integration of undergraduate students in the South has been far slower than on the graduate level, and Miss Lucy's experiences tend to show that the difficulty does not lie so much with the student body itself.

It probably is true that if, at home, the students heard nothing in opposition to integration in the colleges, they would have adjusted easily to the admission of one or even more Negro students. But one cannot expect of the older generation this amount of restraint, and it was certainly the influence and example of their elders which helped bring about the unfortunate disturbances on the Tuscaloosa, Ala., campus.

Miss Lucy is now married and the wife of a young minister. As such, she and her husband will act as far as they possibly can with love in their hearts.

The words of Christ upon the Cross often may have to be in their minds. But as the Rev. Luther King in Montgomery, Ala., has been insisting, that resistance can only be won by peaceful perseverance. So it may be found that the Christian spirit and a quiet opposition, without the use of force, may, as in India, prove the most effective way of finally achieving equality of opportunity for all in this country, which made this promise to its citizens nearly 100 years ago.

Abraham Lincoln hoped that the changes which he considered inevitable could be brought about by peaceful cooperation. It has taken us a long time to make these changes, though we have moved forward perhaps more rapidly in the last 20 years than in the first years after the war between the states.

If we can hold love in our hearts for each other, have patience with our frailties—even with our prejudices—but continue to insist on the rights of all human beings, I think all men in our country someday will become educated.

E.R.

(Copyright, 1956, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 26, 1956

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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.
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