Eleanor Roosevelt Addresses the American Library Association

Email a Friend
Eleanor Roosevelt

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

"Books are basic to culture."

American Library Association.

Eleanor Roosevelt talks about the current attack on UNESCO. Early UNESCO projects may not have gone well but things are improving. ER gets a lot of mail about UNESCO. UNESCO is trying to wipe out illiteracy. Recent session in Paris. The need to know what UNESCO is trying to accomplish.

She says we have to communicate to other countries what the USA is all about. The US has become the symbol of democracy. Whenever there is a failure it will be fully exploited and the result makes the US look hypocritical. People are always asking about the treatment of minorities in the US. Former European colonies know us as a strong commercial power. We are classed with the colonial powers who have treated people "with a certain amount of condescension". The resentment lingers.

Roosevelt emphasizes that we have to prove our commitment to human rights by deeds. Words are not enough. Uncle Tom's Cabin republished in Scandinavia and seen as the way things are in the US. The written word is critical. Libraries. Importance of USIA centers and libraries overseas. Indian and Pakistani women leading sheltered lives. Things are being done in slum areas and women are being encouraged. She relates story of one 'ugly American' and the fact that 'we don't prepare people'. We cannot underestimate our enemy. The US has withstood the test of constant watching. Democracy is lived everywhere day by day. Talks about promises of the communists. Dissatisfaction can breed contempt for democracy and win communist converts. Many ways of fighting back through education and knowledge. Not through the suppression of knowledge.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 8462
Municipal archives id: LT834