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

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NEW YORK—Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion is a forceful gentleman and he is in a particularly fortunate position for himself, since he can resign with perfect ease and retire joyfully to his farm and know that the need for him will become apparent very quickly.

He has a quality of youth in spite of the number of his years and he has a drive and an inspiring spirit which makes him appealing to the youth of Israel. I don't think that he would be allowed to be off the public stage for long.

I am a believer in developing young people to follow in the steps of elder statesmen, but I also realize that until death removes the elder statesmen it is often difficult for the younger ones to show their real ability.

One cannot help but be disappointed that the Constituent Assembly in Indonesia has not worked out and that President Sukarno has had to reinstate, with the backing of the Army, the 1945 Constitution which gives him practically dictatorship power.

It may be necessary where governments are new to have a President do this, and it is reassuring to have his declaration that he has no desire to be a dictator and is trying to lead the people to real democracy. One can only hope that he will stress an educational program that may succeed in bringing the people to a point where they can control their own government with intelligence and efficiency.

I have been sent a letter from the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers which I forwarded to Mr. John A. Hannah, chairman of the Commission on Civil Rights. The letter dealt with the cases of Messrs. Howard and McAllister who have been in jail since February 23 in Bessemer, Ala. They will have completed their sentences on August 23.

This is a civil rights case, but Mr. Hannah says that "the commission can provide no affirmative relief and that its report to the President will not be made until September 9."

The story seems incredible but it has been printed in a pamphlet which has been sent to me by "The Chicago Committee to Win the Vote in the South." Mr. Howard seems to have been guilty of urging the Negroes to register and vote. He also formed a "Bessemer Voters League" and hired a sign painter, who happened to be white, called McAllister, to make a poster of a cartoon, which is reproduced on the front of the pamphlet sent to me. Before this poster was even delivered, however, the police arrested Mr. Howard and Mr. McAllister and charged them with painting "obscene matter" and "breach of the peace."

There is nothing obscene in the cartoon. It is only the picture of a Negro, with manacled hands, praying God that all Americans will have the same rights and listing the things that a Negro cannot do in certain areas of our country. The two men were convicted to six months in jail and a $105 fine. They appealed their cases.

The whole story is one every American should read because this seems to be a case where the law did not protect the people impartially, and when that happens, whether a man is colored or white, we are in grave danger in our country.

I hope my readers will write to The Chicago Committee to Win the Vote in the South, 1110 South Oakley Boulevard, Chicago 12, Ill., and read this story. I think it is important for us to understand what may happen in our country.


(Copyright, 1959, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 8, 1959

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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Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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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.