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

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NEW YORK—Strange things are going on in Tuskegee, Alabama. Because the Negroes have decided to boycott white merchants, the headquarters of their organization was raided—by order of the Attorney General of the State.

It seems to me that the Negroes have as much right to decide where they want to shop as the city officials had to decide that they will change the city boundaries so as to exclude the Negro district. This change in the city boundaries means that the Negroes will be prevented from voting in city elections, and as far as I can see, the Negroes have every right to protest.

Shame upon a government servant like Mr. John Patterson, Alabama's Attorney General, who led the raid. A national organization like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is doing no wrong in helping the Negroes of Alabama to organize this type of boycott. They are behaving in a completely legal and orderly fashion. Economic pressure is being used, but the Southern whites have used economic pressure on the Negroes in many areas.

I have a pamphlet from South Carolina, about which I will tell you tomorrow.

I think it is important to note the bloodless revolution that is taking place in Tunisia. The reigning Bey, Mohammed El-Amin, has been dethroned, and the former Premier, Mr. Habib Bourguiba, has established a republic in which he will be both President and Prime Minister.

Mr. Bourguiba won national independence for his country from France. Now he seems to want to establish a real republic. Under the circumstances, of course, he might establish himself as a dictator, such as is Mr. Nasser in Egypt, but Mr. Bourguiba's actions in the past promise something much more intelligent and more important.

What he does may have far-reaching effects on all the other Arab countries, not only in North Africa but also in the Near East. He wants to reestablish friendly ties with France and the West, and he does not want Tunis to become a satellite of the Middle East.

The Sultan of Morocco has these same desires for his country, and as a religious leader of the Arabs he has considerable powers of persuasion. So, Tunis and Morocco may be a bridge to the West which will be most important in halting the spread of Communism throughout the Arab world.

Our State Department is doing a very wise thing, I believe, in enclosing with every passport to Americans traveling abroad a letter from the President, telling each one of us as we leave our country that we are unofficial ambassadors wherever we travel. This is a reminder of our responsibility to behave as worthy representatives not only of our country, but of our American way of life.

I was amused to see, the other day, a little news item which said that the Soviets had issued orders, in preparation for the Youth Festival in Moscow, that all Russians must behave and that there must be no drinking, so that visitors from other countries will be impressed with the value of the Communist organization and the Communist government.


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

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 31, 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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.