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

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HYDE PARK—On Tuesday morning I was on the Dave Garroway "Today" show on NBC, along with Mr. Roswell Garst of Coon Rapids, Iowa; Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota; Mr. Adlai Stevenson; and Dr. John E. Ivy Jr., executive vice-president of New York University. We were participants on the panel because all of us had had face-to-face conversations with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, and our purpose was to give the viewers as much of an impression as we could of the kind of man who is touring our country as President Eisenhower's guest.

I couldn't resist telling Senator Humphrey that he looked completely rested and alert even though Congress had not adjourned until 6:30 o'clock that morning.

No real civil rights legislation was passed during this just-ended session of Congress, and we have a group of Southern Senators to thank for this. It is regrettable that we have to hang back in doing the things we know our Constitution obligates us to do because certain Senators do not feel sure enough of their ability to explain to their constituents that even the South is a part of a changing world. They apparently lack the talent to tell their voters that the very patriotism which is one of the South's proudest boasts is being defeated by their unwillingness to look at the world as it really is today.

It is not good reading for our Communist guest.

At a quarter past 10 on Tuesday evening I went to the headquarters of the New York Committee for Democratic Voters and found there, among others, Sen. and Mrs. Herbert H. Lehman and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas K. Finletter.

It was with real pleasure that we saw the gains made by Mr. Charles E. McGuinness in Carmine E. De Sapio's district, and there were a number of very encouraging victories. Slowly this reform movement is getting on its feet, and I join in congratulating Senator Lehman, Mr. Finletter, Mr. Frank Adams and Mr. George Backer on the way in which they have encouraged young people to fight and have given them some tangible help. I hope this can be pursued and strengthened and that those who were elected in the primaries will show by their active work for their constituents what it means to have really interested leadership.

There is one aspect of the political situation in New York City's Harlem section that I think must be watched with extreme care. Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. has none too savory a reputation as a man of high standards in public life. He has gained an enormous hold over the people of Harlem, however, and he has done it, I think, by arousing race hatred.

The method is sad, but not important, since it is the result that has to be dealt with. It is important now to see where his influence will be felt in New York City. It is something to be reckoned with.

If he thinks it worthwhile, he may well become a power for good. On the other hand, his influence may prove to be buyable, and in that case he will act without principle and the people of Harlem will be exploited and what power has been gained for them will do them no good.

Should this be the case, the Democratic party, too, will suffer.


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

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 18, 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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.