JULY 6, 1959
NEW YORK—A letter has come to me from the "Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools" in Little Rock, Arkansas. I publish it here because I think we should know what is being done on such a vital question in this area.
"This letter," it reads, "is being sent to you because as a world traveler and prominent American figure you are often the spokesman and interpreter of events in our country.
"Perhaps you have noticed the news of recent events in Little Rock pertaining to the defeat of three school board members, who had attempted a purge of 44 of our public school teachers. This outrageous action was the incident which roused our citizens to organize STOP by a year of hard work by our group, The Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools. And it is recognized that the recall election could not have been won without our women.
"With a membership of 1,500, we have worked since September of 1958 to reopen our four public high schools; to retain our staffs of good teachers; and to regain full accreditation by the North Central Association. Knowing that ours is a task of education, we have sent out hundreds of letters, as individuals and as a committee, urging support of the public schools. We have mailed thousands of information leaflets urging the re-opening of our schools. We run weekly ads in our local newspapers and we have a Speakers Bureau and a lending library. All of work is volunteer and has been done on a very modest budget.
"It has been a concern of many of us that the unfortunate events in Little Rock were used as the best propaganda tool the Communist countries have had in the last ten years. We hope you will help us communicate to others the information that hundreds of our citizens are working hard within the framework of law and order, and despite abuse and fear of recrimination to solve the critical situation in which we find ourselves."
One of the things mentioned when I was in Washington, the other morning, was the current resolution submitted by Congressman McGovern last January 29 and called the "Food for Peace Resolution." It is a resolution designed to bring before the Congress and, hopefully, to make our people realize the fact that we have an abundance of food, that people in the world are hungry, and that we have not yet found a way to use this abundance wisely and well. I hope that more than a resolution will keep these thoughts constantly before us, because our future contacts with people depend greatly on our whole nation being aware of this situation.
I cannot let Dorothy Shaver's death go unmentioned in this column. She was the head of one of New York's large department stores, Lord & Taylor, and she reached this position by hard work and the cultivation of very remarkable gifts. She was a woman of ability and charm, and those who worked with her found inspiration and comfort in her vitality and imagination. She will be missed by the business world which she touched, by the fashion world in which she was a power, by her friends and acquaintances—even those who met her as rarely as I did—with a sense of having learned something.