MARCH 26, 1960
HYDE PARK—We have all been very much upset by the situation in South Africa. But equally upsetting has been the news from Alabama, where nine college students were 01expelled from school for their sit-down strike. A visitor came to tell me that when a sympathy strike was attempted on behalf of these students, the police set up gun posts around the college campus, tapped the telephone lines to the church where meetings were being held, and altogether created an atmosphere so much like South Africa that it is not comfortable for an American citizen to think about.
Fortunately, students in colleges in the North have realized that the students in the South will need help, so within hours $1,000 was expedited from campuses in the North to the beleaguered students in Alabama. I think we should organize to support these students in any way it is possible to do so.
As I have said before, I do not think boycotting lunch counters that are segregated in the North has much value except in letting off our own steam. But I do think that refusing to buy South African goods—such as lobster tails, diamonds, caracul coats, etc., none of which we buy every day—and at the same time refusing to buy anything at all from chain stores that have segregation of any kind in our South will have a very salutary effect.
It is curious that the United States and South Africa have much the same problem. However, the degree, thank heavens, is different. But we must move forward here at home or we cannot protest with sincerity what goes on abroad.
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I have an interesting announcement from Letters Abroad, Inc., which is an affiliate of the President's People-to-People program.
This agency covers the grassroots aspect of the program, linking some 250,000 U.S. citizens to 250,000 overseas friends in 120 countries and territories by intimate correspondence. It is the official clearing house for all "pen-pal" requests received by our government agencies as well as by many national and local organizations.
The people writing to one another are matched in age groups, in professions, in interests, in education and in hobbies, so that they can really develop warm friendships through their correspondence.
The greatest demand for American correspondents comes from Japan and Germany, our major enemies in World War II. Now, Letters Abroad considers 1960 its "African Year," because of the deluge of requests for American correspondents from newly independent nations of Africa. Letters Abroad, Inc., ran its first annual "Letters Abroad Essay Contest" this past year and the winners will be flown abroad to visit their pen friends on May 4 by Pan American World Airways.
One winner, Mrs. Milton S. Katz of Hinsdale, Mass., a 37-year-old mother of three children and wife of a General Electric employee, will go with her two elder children, who also have pen friends in Japan, to visit Mrs. Suzue Matsubara in Kyoto, her correspondent who also has three children and lives with her parents-in-law and is a widow.
The other winner is Mr. Kenneth Bookout of Atlanta, Ga., a 26-year-old pianist and composer, who will go to Le Vecinet, near Paris, to visit Mlle. Raymonde Muret, with whom he has had a lively correspondence.
These two winners have never been abroad, so this will be an adventure—two weeks with all expenses paid by Letters Abroad, Inc.