SPETEMBER 26, 1956
NEW YORK—I have in my mail some questions from an American citizen living in Fresno, Calif., and these are some of the things he asks:
"How can an individual, stigmatized as an inferior being, something less than a normal human, as a second-string citizen, and an American 'untouchable,' prevent himself from feeling these attitudes deeply and being scarred indelibly?
"Do you think the South has made progress in overcoming this problem?
"Do you believe the American Negro will ever reach the status of first-class citizenship?
"What can you and we do as individuals besides putting our own prejudices aside?"
These are very important questions.
1. I think it is difficult not to be hurt, but if you can preserve your pride in your race and yourself by making yourself as valuable a citizen as possible, you will help minimize the harm.
I often think those who inflict this feeling of inferiority on other human beings because of race, color or religion actually do more harm to themselves than to their victims, but it is harder to see the scars that are left on their souls.
2. I do think the South has made great progress in solving its own racial problems. Undoubtedly the Negroes would like to see changes come faster, and some of us would be glad to see that, too. But Southerners have a responsibility for their own development. The South is made up of not just white people, but both white and colored, and I think those states are coming to realize that sooner or later all must live on an equal basis.
3. Of course, I believe that the American Negro will reach the status of first-class citizenship. Many of them have already achieved it and more of them will do so as education is available and their economic situation improves.
4. You and I, as individuals, can do a great deal more than setting aside our own prejudices. We can try to become oblivious to any bar between us and any other human being. We can fight for equality of opportunity to obtain a job, to education, to housing and health opportunities, and we can make sure that our friends are chosen because of the people they are, and for no other reason.
There was a meeting at the Carnegie Endowment Building last Wednesday afternoon of organizations interested in how the American people feel about the Suez Canal issue and its submission to the United Nations, which since has been done.
Quite naturally, the American Association for the U.N. feels this question should have been submitted to the U.N. at the very beginning of the controversy and, conscious of the difficulties in finding a peaceful solution now, AAUN members feel that something yet will be achieved by the United Nations toward settlement of this problem.