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Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches
Radio Speech for the Democratic Party's position on Civil Rights and Desegregation, Part 2
November 11, 1956
ER promotes Adlai Stevenson for president and Democratic Party's stance on civil rights.
uh used discretion, wisdom, and patience in areas of the country. We will have to have understanding, and that, however, does not mean that we will stand still. Whereas, in the North, there is only one step to be taken, namely desegregation of housing, before you can have desegregation of schools. That can be done fairly quickly, though it's complicated enough in the big cities to require a certain amount of time to desegregate housing. I can't imagine that Harlem will be desegregated tomorrow, or certain areas of uh Detroit, or Chicago, or various other cities. But nevertheless, when that is accomplished, of itself, the Supreme Court order uh will be carried out. Uh, in the South, there are several steps that will have to be taken before you reach the desegregation of schools. Uh first of all, I think one should insist on the right of every citizen to actually vote without fear or interference. Once that is accomplished for every citizen, then immediately, every citizen has a better chance to fight for his own rights to equal standards, as regards to jobs, which will raise, [phone rings] as a third step, the possibility of an economic uh standard of living. Then, for the first time in the South, you will be able to talk about the um [phone rings] desegregation of housing. And it can't happen before that. It seems to me that um this, um makes it quite clear that we intend in this country to improve our whole situation on civil rights-to live up to the law of the land. We cannot move too fast because we do not want to have violence, and we know that to change the morals of people is not easy and takes time. But that does not mean that we must stand still. We must move forward because this is no longer purely a domestic question. This is a question that affects our relationship with the whole world, and the Democratic Party is conscious of this, and realizes that our leadership in the world depends on our attitude at home on civil rights. [Pause 3:16-3:19] Now, civil rights is not only in the realm of equality uh among our citizens. It also means that we must have protection in our uh freedom and that the law must be upheld in all cases bearing on civil rights. Now, I think the Democrats have made their platform um very clear-er uh in saying that they felt, um everyone was obligated to live up to the law of the land, and uh I believe that we are going to move forward without any real setbacks. Though I think it will have to be done slowly because uh great changes, which require education and acceptance of new situations do not come about quickly or easily; but they must eventually come about, and we must reach, in this country, a full understanding of the rights of people to be equal under a democracy for all the citizens of that democracy. All our citizens must remember that this is no new struggle. Um President Roosevelt, President Truman, fought for the rights, the civil rights, of all our citizens. They fought for it in Congress, often against reactionary groups within their own party. But nevertheless, it has moved forward. And there are uh here in this country, an increasing number of people who realize that civil rights must mean for all people an equality a-in the rights of citizenship, and that you cannot have one rule for one group and another rule for another. Now, the Republicans have done very little in housing; they haven't even included in their party platform any reference to changing Rule Twenty-two, which is the rule that will have to be changed, because it would prevent a-a filibuster that never ends. At present, under Rule Twenty-two, there is no way of ever coming to a vote on the civil rights issue. Uh if you can change Rule Twenty-two, so that while everybody has the right to state their point of view, at some point there must be a vote. Uh then we will have moved forward a great deal, and that is included in the Democratic platform, but is not included in the Republican one. There are more democrats, I think, conscious of the need of desegregation in housing. There's been very little done, along that line in the four years of the Republican administration.
- Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962 :
About this document
Radio Speech for the Democratic Party's position on Civil Rights and Desegregation,
November 11, 1956
- National Endowment for the Humanities
Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches is a project and publication of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, The George Washington University, Academic Building, Post Hall, Room 312, 2100 Foxhall Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007
Transcribed and published by the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, 2019-11-27
Transcription created from holdings at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library