My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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DETROIT—What a tragedy in the Bronx, N.Y., once more, with the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old boy in a struggle between youthful gangs!

Obviously, something is very wrong with the way we are handling our young people. They certainly do not have enough to do if they form gangs to destroy one another.

I'm beginning to think that it is almost as much of an obligation on the part of our educational system to provide leisure-time activities for those who really want to remain in school and show the ability to learn as it is to give academic training.

Both sports and shop work should be so organized that there would be a place within the school program to form clubs and to undertake different types of work and play.

For those boys who are judged to be not good academic material, we had better again open the Civilian Conservation Corps camps, where they can be taught different trades, get to know their own country, live out of doors, have their energies directed toward safe pursuits, and return to home life prepared to go to work and with pride in having accomplished something for their country in these years of preparation.

I have seen men, who had served in CCC camps during the depression years, showing their children with pride some of the things that had been done by their groups. These works have been of lasting value to the country.

Among some of the achievements of these groups are areas where soil erosion has been stopped; regions where thousands of trees were planted and have grown up to restore the water supply and keep the top soil from blowing away; areas that were cleared so that devastating fires would not destroy thousands of acres of woodland; swimming pools in small communities; and any amount of other really useful improvements that go back to the CCC camps and WPA work.

If there is no other way of breaking up gangs in our communities and stopping gang warfare, we had better establish such camps quickly and see to it that our boys are tested. Thus, those who are better fitted for this kind of work would not be kept at purely academic pursuits in an atmosphere where their leisure time tempts them to form gangs and terrorize neighborhoods.

The United Nations, in a 44 to 29 vote in the General Assembly has again postponed for a year the question of Chinese representation in the U.N.—whether Communist China really represents the Chinese people or whether the Chinese people are adequately represented at present.

It seems to me that this matter might much better be undertaken in two different steps.

It is quite evident that Formosa represents itself and itself alone. If the fiction that it represents the whole of China could be faced and if a decision could be reached that the China that was one of the founding nations no longer exists—and, therefore, that Formosa can apply to represent itself but not retain a position as one of the five founding nations—then we would begin to face realities.

What we have to say about the Communist Chinese government not being qualified to apply for membership would have more meaning.

The world knows by now that the Communist governments—because of their philosophy—set the state above the individual and are of necessity indifferent to human life. This is a fundamental difference between Communist and non-Communist philosophy. But it is possible that at some time communism will decide to meet the standards of the rest of the world in order that we may live peacefully together. For this we can as yet only hope.


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

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Detroit (Mich., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 24, 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.