Viewing page 19 of 21
It looks like you're using a mobile device. We recommend using a physical keyboard for transcription entry.
Especially in the South, the Negro people face disfranchisement, segregation and Jim Crow. The facts of life in the southern town where my husband was born and grew up motivated his search for truth and a way out for himself and his people. Should that search for answers to the most burning problems of every Negro and every worker stop at the continental borders of the United States? Concede this and our nation will soon become a benighted wasteland of "super patriotic" bigots. The Heritage of Jefferson and Douglass Jefferson knew this and never ceased to draw inspiration from the great French Revolution in the early development of the United States, just as our revolution served as a catalytic agent among the French people and throughout 18th century Europe. Jefferson noted that the "flames kindled on the Fourth of July, 1776" had spread to France. Similarly the first blows at the institution of slavery in the Western Hemisphere were made when the people of Haiti and the West Indies won their emancipation from French and British slave-holders. The movement for emancipation in the West Indies gave great stimulus to the American anti-slavery movement. In the words of Frederick Douglass: [[italicised]] "British example became a great lever in the hands of the American abolitionists. The downfall of slavery under British power meant the downfall of slavery ultimately under American power and the downfall of Negro slavery everywhere. The cause of human liberty is on the whole world over." [[/italicised]] What was true in the days of Jefferson and Douglass is all the more true today. But how far have we come from their ideals! Today Congress would deny us the rich heritage of peoples of other lands. Under the McCarran-Walter Law they would keep from our shores great leaders of world science and culture who may not agree that the so-called "American way of life" is the best and only way for mankind. They would also bar migration of peoples who do not fit into a Hitler-like classification of Anglo-Saxon superiority. Under this law the West Indian people are practically denied admission to the United States, and other darker peoples are limited to insignificant quotas. 34 [[end page]] [[start page]] This nation was built by "foreigners" - by men and women who brought to the New World the then "foreign" idea of democracy. The best democratic heritage of this land includes the millions who have come here, the ideas and the labor they have contributed to the building of the United States, and ideas which we have borrowed from other people. The people of France presented this nation with a great statue which stands in New York Bay in honor of those who came here from other lands. But today the Statue of Liberty must hang her head in shame. For Peace and Brotherhood No, it is not [[italicised]] dictation [[/italicised]] from any foreign source which caused my husband to dedicate his life and talents to the struggle for a new social order. Rather, in the course of the struggle for a better life he discovered the answer to the problems of our times in ideas which have grown as an integral part of the history of our country. That these ideas have been adopted in other lands simply indicates that mankind, facing common problems, eventually arrives at common answers. My husband and his colleagues exploited no man, lynched no man, sent no mother's son off to die in an unjust, futile struggle against peace-loving nations on the other side of the world! The men who did these things are the real criminals-at-large, not my husband! All of his life he has worked for peace among the nations and an end to war; for brotherhood among the peoples and an end to Jim Crow; for the prosperity of the masses and an end to poverty. My husband and his colleagues have acted in the great tradition of Frederick Douglass and the abolitionists who defied the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 (that infamous law also had the endorsement of the Supreme Court!) and chose to carry on their fight as "fugitives" rather than obediently surrender their cause to the jailers of liberty. They know, like Douglass, that, "He is the best friend of his country, who at this tremendous crisis dares to tell his countrymen the truth, however disagreeable it may be." The people of America must aid the Smith Act victims, those men and women who stand in the forefront of the struggle to preserve America's democratic heritage, just as in the past they have come to the aid of freedom's fighters. 35
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact email@example.com.