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

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NEW YORK—Our newspapers tell us briefly about the integration problem in such a place as McComb, Miss., where violence has broken out, but there are a great many small daily problems that come up in the lives of our fellow citizens that most of us never hear about. In fact, just the other day I received a letter that touches on one of the ever-present and extremely varied Negro problems of the South. So, I thought it might serve some useful purpose to give excerpts from this letter which comes from Tarboro, N.C. It reads, in part:

"This is the problem. For the past 60 years or more several families have been using a strip of land parallel and adjacent to the railroad, and to the property of the families, as an outlet to the main street. Long Manufacturing Company, Inc., having been unsuccessful in buying the property of the families is proceeding to put a fence around the strip of land and forcing the families to use an improvised alley at the rear of this plant.

“An appeal to the Governor of North Carolina was referred to the Mayor of Tarboro. Both the Mayor and the Town Manager, however, said the town officials have no legal right to interfere. As far as they are concerned, it is a fight between the manufacturer and the families. The idea behind this fence is to force the families to sell.”

I suppose this property belongs to the Long Manufacturing Co., and it could have built its fence 60 years ago and the families would have had no redress. Now, I think these families feel, perhaps not unnaturally, that if they were white this pressure to make them sell would not be applied.

They may be wrong, of course, but it is little things like this that build up little by little a sense of daily unfairness. In some parts of the country I know that if a road is used long enough as an open road it cannot be closed. In order to preserve such rights a property owner will often close such a road at regular intervals. Therefore, if this law holds good in North Carolina the company may be declared neglectful in failing to close off this property periodically. Sixty years seems a long time for a strip to have been used as an access to a street and then be closed off summarily.

I have been reading in the newspapers that Mr. Adlai Stevenson is weighing in his mind his running for the United States Senate against Sen. Everett Dirksen. If he decides to do this it would, of course, mean his resignation as Ambassador and head of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations.

If he decides to leave the U.S. delegation, there is no question in my mind that he will be greatly missed by many of the delegates, particularly of the Asian and African countries, who have experienced the warmth of his friendship. With many of the other countries, of course, he was already a long-time friend of the heads of the delegations, for there are few people in the world who are active in the political life of their countries who have not known and worked with Mr. Stevenson. That is one of reasons why his heading our mission to the U.N. seemed of such great benefit to our country.

One can, of course, say that if he were elected to the Senate instead of Mr. Dirksen the Senate would have gained considerably, but in stating that opinion I realize I am open to the accusation of being partisan!

We do not have too many people who grace the positions they occupy and whom we feel we can trust intellectually and morally to stand well among their colleagues. But Mr. Stevenson is certainly one.

Just the other day I was given a book called "Conscience in Politics, Adlai E. Stevenson in the 1950s" by Stuart Gerry Brown, and on the inside flap there is a paragraph that gives us the reason why we have confidence that no matter what Adlai Stevenson decides to do he will do it to benefit his country. Here is the paragraph:

“In American Presidential politics it is seldom that a vanquished partisan candidate has provided the outspoken leadership for his country that a popular and unpartisan victor could not or did not furnish. Yet the history of the U.S. from 1952 to 1960 leads the author of this provocative work to conclude that Adlai E. Stevenson, twice defeated by Dwight D. Eisenhower, did just that—and made a definable and lasting impact on public policy.”


(Copyright, 1961, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, December 6, 1961

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 June 30, 2008.

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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.