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

[This column has emendations. View original version]


NEW YORK—The Democratic Advisory Council, meeting in Washington, D.C. on Monday and Tuesday of this week, has put out a program for legislation that will probably be difficult for the Southern Democratic leaders in Congress to accept. Yet, it will mean that in the areas where the party is really making gains today—in the cities of the North, Middle West, and West, as well as in the East—the Democratic liberals will feel greater confidence in the party's principles and they certainly will want to work much harder to achieve success in 1960.

They will feel that the effort to put our own house in order and meet the needs of the world situation has at last been faced by the party.

The stand on civil rights and on legislation to curb endless filibustering in the Congress itself will give hope to any liberal who has felt that no matter what was said in party platforms nothing could ever get done where legislation was needed.

Attorney-General William P. Rogers was reported on Monday to have warned the South that persisting in certain old-time customs might lead to some unfortunate economic difficulties.

It would be difficult, for instance, for the Federal government to establish and expand plants and facilities in areas where prejudice is widespread and schools and other public conveniences are not available to all our citizens.

It is not only the government that is going to find this difficult. I was told the other day by someone from the North, who has recently taken a position in a Southern college, that he found it easy to buy a house because so many people were leaving the South on account of difficulty they found in educating their children and very often in running their businesses.

If this really continues, the South may find a tremendous exodus, not only of Negroes but or white people, and this will undoubtedly have a serious effect upon economic conditions generally.

I saw today a young woman from South Africa who has been staying in various parts of our country, but particularly in the South, studying our racial situation in comparison with the South African situation.

She noticed that white people living in the South with liberal tendencies were far more nervous about stating their beliefs than were white people in South Africa who differed with their government's policy. To be sure they went to jail in South Africa but nobody seemed very much troubled about it and their friends rallied to try to get them out.

Here, she said, in the South she found that a family that held liberal views on the segregation question was ostracized by its neighbors. The children were made to suffer as well as the grownups, and the result was that they were much quieter in speaking out than were the white people in South Africa.

She found, too, that often even the personal persecution was not sufficient. Business pressure would be brought and when a man finds himself unable to earn a living for his family, it is almost too much to ask that he shout his beliefs from the housetops or even express them to those who were not in sympathy.

This whole situation is bad for the United States because when any one section suffers we all suffer. Until we come to a realization in our Southern area that they are a part of the U.S. and not set apart in the middle of a dreamland of their own, I am afraid we are all going to suffer.


(Copyright, 1958, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, December 10, 1958

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.