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

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NEW YORK—What a sad situation it is that a barrier should have been erected between Floyd Patterson's house and that of a neighbor in Yonkers, N.Y. The neighbor is a dentist, Dr. Ondino Morelli.

To be a dentist or a doctor and not to recognize how little race means seems to me incredible. But to build a fence to keep children apart (which reportedly is the reason the Morellis erected a fence separating the back yards of the two properties) and not to realize how that would hurt a neighbor, no matter of what race or color, seems such a lack of sensitivity that one wonders when we of the white race will ever grow up.

I grieve for both of these people. They are probably both now so involved that they can only react in bitterness. Dr. Morelli will have his friends in the neighborhood, but Mr. Patterson will have friends all over the world who shudder every time this kind of evidence of race animosity is allowed to cloud human unity.

Another thing I want to mention is this whole business of the expressway across lower Manhattan here, on which the Board of Estimate put off final approval until August 23 at the earliest.

MAYor Robert F. Wagner is rightfully concerned about first getting a good plan for the relocation of the families in the area, but in this particular case this is not the only factor involved. This is a part of the city where many of the inhabitants are old people who have lived long in the neighborhood and are at home there. Actually, they cannot contemplate living in another place where they would be without the friends and neighbors of a lifetime. One wonders if the good that can be brought about by the projected expressway would outweigh the cost in human suffering that many of these old people are already enduring.

I was told, that in coming out against the expressway and hoping that some other way could be found to accomplish the desired end, I was ignoring the greater good of the city and the fact that engineers had studied this plan which had been under consideration for over 20 years. I also was told that I was being used by "cheap politicians."

As a matter of fact, I heard from a group of the old people, and the mere fact that this has been under consideration for 20 years is not to me a recommendation. I feel that anything that has taken that long to seem necessary may have some other reasons against it that should be brought out and considered.

The fact that the engineers feel the projected plan is the easiest one is probably correct, for it is their business to find the cheapest and most practical way to do things. But, by the same token, that does not mean they were asked to consider the human values involved, and I think these are important.

I felt that if we could move the community as a community, with its little shops and businesses, to a new area, then I would concede that the city had come to the conclusion it was serving the greatest good of the greatest number and had considered the best that could be done for the people now living in the area. No one has been able to prove to me that any such careful consideration has been given, and I am glad that the Board of Estimate has delayed its action on the acquisition of land for the project.

I have just received a copy of a letter that was sent out by Rep. Herbert Zelenko (D., N.Y.) to his constituents. I am not one of his constituents and, therefore, it is on very broad ground that I oppose his position. He was asking his constituents to back his amendment to the postal bill to censor mail from Eastern European countries. And he succeeded in getting all but two votes in the Congress in favor of this type of censorship.

His amendment would bar any materials from Eastern European or Communist countries that the Attorney General might classify as Communist political propaganda.

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post, two reliable and not exactly Communist-oriented newspapers, came out against Congressman Zelenko's proposal on the grounds that this amendment is really in opposition to our Constitution and our traditions and shows a mistrust in the common sense and the ability on the part of the American people to read and reject this type of literature.

The State Department, the Justice Department, the Post Office and the Treasury Departments all urged the President earlier this year to reject such a ban, and he did so last March. Now Congressman Zelenko is trying to put it back by law.

Any material of any kind coming from a Communist country might easily be considered Communist political propaganda. But, on the other hand, it has been extremely valuable for us in this country to receive scientific papers and ordinary newspapers, and certainly the exchange of American and Soviet magazines has increased our knowledge—and I hope it has theirs—about life in our countries.

I am really troubled to find that there were only two Congressmen, John V. Lindsay (R., N.Y.) and William F. Ryan (D., N.Y.), who had the courage and the intelligence to be opposed to this move on the part of Congressman Zelenko.


(Copyright, 1962, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 29, 1962

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.