MAY 3, 1961
NEW YORK—It is a very inspiring thing to find that in Little Rock, Ark., a father and son have courageously worked together to counteract what they felt was the wrong stand on the part of the majority there on the question of segregation.
The story of what this father and son did is told in a little book, called "This Is What We Found" by Ralph and Carl Creger (Lyle Stuart Co., New York). People whom I know who have read it say this is a book all Americans should read, whether they are white or colored.
Sen. Estes Kefauver wrote to Mr. Ralph Creger: "You and your son are to be commended for your successful effort to bring reason and clarity to a discussion of the too often emotion-blighted subject of the American Negro and his condition, and, in my judgment, your brief but significant book deserves to, and will, be read by a large and thoughtful audience."
It must take great courage on the part of this father and son to take the stand they have taken and, above all, to publish that stand. Many people who are in public office in their state have commended them, but they would not do so publicly. On the other hand, the Cregers have received threats against their lives and, of course, like many other Southerners, they have come up against the hate groups.
In one letter of the little book, for instance, the Cregers tell of a letter published in Little Rock under the auspices of the National States Rights Party by a vice-chairman, Mrs. E.D. Bishop. She wrote:
"Jews hope to brainwash all the people of the world by dragging out the Eichmann trial for several months....In the end they will say that every segregationist, States Righter, conservative, etc., is a potential Eichmann, a potential mass murderer. The Jews will use public opinion built up by this long phony trial to get Congress and even the United Nations to outlaw patriots everywhere. Are we going to let them outlaw us?"
This letter was addressed to the Governor of Arkansas and it is characteristic of how prejudice against one group leads to prejudice against many other groups. Dragging in the Eichmann trial, which has nothing whatever to do with anything in this country, is characteristic of how a certain type of mind can twist any event to its own purposes.
Mr. Creger notes that in the South today anyone who believes in the right of the Negro to exercise his equal rights as an American citizen is considered to be a Communist, and he has been thus accused. There are many other good people in the South who, because they believe that segregation can no longer exist in our country, are also accused of being Communists.
Again, the two have nothing to do with each other. You can be a Communist and hate your neighbor. Though the tenets of communism say that all men must be brothers, it does not mean that there will be complete brotherhood expressed by every Communist and it does not mean that anyone who really believes in practicing brotherhood is a Communist.
It is heartening to read how this father and son have worked together—two simple American citizens, not rich, not powerful, but with the courage to stand for their convictions. This is what makes one proud of being an American, and I salute the two Mr. Cregers and hope that their little book will be asked for by millions of other Americans in bookshops all over the country.
Now I should like to turn to another area of the country to praise a man who had the honesty to return to its owner $240,000 in cash which he had found in the street.
He received a good reward, but the reward that really matters must be his own pride and that of his entire family in the integrity that moved him to return what was not his.
According to some newspapers, however, a number of people, young and old, have called the man a fool for being so honest, and the man's son has been laughed at by his classmates because of his father's doing "something so foolish."
It is those who laugh who are foolish. They are the ones who drag down the standards which we would like to see always held high in our country. Washington's "cherry tree" was symbolic of a virtue that we really believe in here in the United States, and I think we had better get back to praising that virtue.
So, I salute Mr. Douglas Johnson of Los Angeles, Calif., the man who returned the money.
(Copyright, 1961, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 3, 1961
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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