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

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BOSTON—Last year South Africa's Prime Minister Hendrik F. Verwoerd and Minister of External Affairs Eric H. Louw were with difficulty kept from denying the well-known writer, Alan Paton, a passport to come to this country. It is sad news to read that they have now accused him of giving "aid and comfort to South Africa's enemies in his speeches in the U.S." and have therefore lifted his passport.

In all his books and more recently in speeches, Paton has spoken for civilization and against theories of racial segregation. In South Africa the theory is known as apartheid. In this country a similar theory shows itself in certain of our states to a greater degree than in others, as we have recently seen in New Orleans and previously in Little Rock. All these are of a piece in the theory which would remove the democratic belief in the dignity of all human beings, a belief based on the spark of the divine within them.

No one of course would contend that every human being at any given point is developed to exactly the same point as every other human being. There are areas in the world where opportunity has been greater for some than for others. Elsewhere opportunity has been denied to large sections of people. But that all human beings have an underlying right to strive for freedom and equality was accepted many years ago by Christian people who based their democracy on Christian doctrine. The struggle will go on until there is real freedom for humanity everywhere in the world. Those who fight for it, like Alan Paton, meanwhile deserve our respect and admiration.

President de Gaulle's mission to Algeria is being watched by the whole world. We must admire his courage, for he is not received and welcomed in friendly fashion by certain elements in Algeria as he urges upon them the acceptance of his plan for Algeria's self-determination.

The French residents of Algeria will not like an independent "Algerian Republic," if this should be the result. The French people as a whole have accepted the transformation of their empire into a French community of independent states, and they will probably support this plan when its first test comes up on January 8. Certain groups in the population of Algeria will not be satisfied with an independent state tied in any way to France, but want to be completely soverign and independent.

De Gaulle's visit to Algeria is an effort to win what he believes is the bulk of the Algerian people who stand between the two extremes. It is only his sense of mission as a "saviour" of France that would lead the President of the Republic at the present time to make this trip to try and win the majority to his plan for the future. He runs many risks, for he will be with many people who would not hesitate to try to kill him. One hopes that he will succeed. If the three African states in N. Africa could have self-rule and independence—but with a tie to France, particularly in the area of foreign affairs—it would certainly be an advantage to them and eventually, I think, help in bringing us a more peaceful world.

Our celebration of December 10 as Human Rights Day had, I think, a particular meaning for the U.S. in our general struggle for peace among our own citizens. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for the first time in a written document, contains a statement of the world's aspirations in this particular field, and when we in this country fall short of our democratic beliefs and ideals we also fall short of the hopes and beliefs set down in that declaration.

Human Rights Day should also remind us this year of the fact that we are honoring the 100th anniversary of the birthday of Jane Addams, a pioneer worker for human rights in the U.S. Miss Addams 29 years ago was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the first time it was won by an American woman. Honoring one of our own citizens whose entire life was dedicated to the rights of humanity should help us to be better citizens of the world in which we live, as well as in our own country.


(Copyright, 1960, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Boston (Mass., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, December 12, 1960

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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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

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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.