My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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EN ROUTE TO MOROCCO —Representative Adam Clayton Powell, New York Democrat, is playing a dangerous game. In the last election he led his people, as far as he was able, into the Republican ranks with assurances that they would get from President Eisenhower more than they would from a Democratic President and Administration.

But if his constituents would analyze the civil rights legislation that has been presented to Congress with the President's approval, they would not be well satisfied with it. Yet, mild as this legislation is, there has not been a great deal of pressure from the President to pass it.

There must be great pride, not only among the Negroes but among white people all over the country, in the remarkable restraint and courage shown by the Negroes in their struggle for their rights in Montgomery, Ala., and other places in the South.

Never before has such a peaceful but determined movement taken place. It is inspired by the example of Mahatma Gandhi and his followers in India and calls for remarkable fortitude and perseverance.

Dr. Martin Luther King, in his insistence that there be no hatred in this struggle, is asking almost more than human beings can achieve. Yet there has not been one single word of praise from any member of the Administration.

I would like to ask our Negro citizens if this is the strong backing which Representative Powell led them to believe would be forthcoming in their fight for civil rights.

There was so much talk about the Powell amendment to the school construction bill in the last Congress that nobody stopped to think that Representative Powell might have added his rider to the highway bill demanding fair employment practices.

Or he might have asked for extension of the vocational educational program to include nurses' training in all secondary schools. Or he might have asked that his amendment to the school bill be attached to the bill continuing aid for schools in Federally-affected areas.

Representative Powell would do a more effective job if he would get behind some of the other people who propose amendments that have a chance of passing.

The Supreme Court said that its integration decision should be enforced through the courts with "all deliberate speed." But to try to change the court procedure by legislative action does not seem likely to succeed, nor do I think it will hasten ultimate compliance which is proceeding in many areas of the South and undoubtedly will spread.

I hold no brief for those who oppose the Supreme Court decision, but I hold no brief either for those who try to gain personal power and a personal following through methods they know must fail and by opposing measures which can benefit all of the children of our country.

The school construction program is an emergency one. It should not be opposed for any reason whatsoever, since it is possible to specifically include in such legislation prohibition against interference by the Federal government in the program, personnel, curriculum, or administration policy of the schools.


(Copyright, 1957, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 22, 1957

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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

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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.