Weep No More, My Lady

Eleanor Roosevelt wrote a syndicated column called  “My Day,” and they are brief, diary-like entries that contain her observations and experiences.  This column twice featured her opinions of the South.  On February 4, 1950, she commented broadly on the “signs of poverty and unhappiness” that occur in the South.  And she specifically references a trip to UNC Chapel Hill and a visit to Danziger’s coffee shop in her column dated February 6, 1950.  (Clicking on the links will bring you to George Washington University’s digital collection of Eleanor Roosevelt’s “My Day” columns.)

Her words were not taken lightly:  We’ve got a pamphlet by W.E. Debnam titled, “Weep No More, My Lady:  Southerner Answers Mrs. Roosevelt’s Report on the ‘Poor and Unhappy South.”   These responses were originally broadcast on the radio on February 8th and 9th, 1950 before being printed.

Jason Tomberlin’s recent post on Eleanor Roosevelt’s visit to Danziger’s featured a photo from her February, 1950 visit.  I’m reposting the photo here.


8 thoughts on “Weep No More, My Lady”

  1. W. E. Debnam’s papers are located at East Carolina University. From the finding aid for his papers:

    Waldemar Eros Debnam (1898-1968), a son of Joseph Eppye and Birdie Lee (Speight) Debnam, was born in Wake County. When Debnam was about five years old, the family moved to Snow Hill, where Joseph taught school and founded the Standard-Laconic, a weekly newspaper. After attending the University of North Carolina, W. E. Debnam returned to Snow Hill, where he worked for his father’s newspaper. Debnam left Snow Hill to work for newspapers in Kinston; South Carolina; Danville, Va.; Washington, D.C.; and Norfolk, Va. In 1928 he married Stella Mae Glass (October 1902-November 28, 2000) of Rockingham County, N.C. In 1939 he helped start the Norfolk News-Index, a weekly paper, but moved to Raleigh in 1941 to work for WPTF radio as a news commentator. Debnam gained notoriety during the 1950s for Weep No More, My Lady (1950), a book critical of Eleanor Roosevelt, and Then My Old Kentucky Home Good Night! (1955) a book concerning the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. In 1956 he unsuccessfully challenged Harold Cooley for the Fourth Congressional District Democratic nomination. Subsequently, Debnam worked for television stations in Greenville and Washington, N.C.

  2. Is Danziger’s Coffee Shop the same as Carolina Coffee Shop? I know CCS has been in operation since the first half of the 20th century, I just don’t know if they’re the same with a name change or if Danziger’s is something that came and went like so many other Franklin businesses.

  3. W. E. Debnam responded to Eleanor Roosevelt on radio and in print only months before the Smith-Graham runoff of 1950. Had young Jesse Helms been in the market for a role model, he could hardly have found closer kin in content or tone than Debnam.
    From “Weep No More…”: “In the case of Harlem and those slums in the back yard of the Capitol in Washington, you can’t escape it even if you close your eyes. They smell to high heaven.”
    And: “[Mrs. Roosevelt joins] that great claque of holier-than-thou reformers that persists in painting the South as a backward land peopled in the main by low-browed hoodlums smelling of lavender and old lace and sniffing away on magnolia blossoms and shuffling along the street with a mint julep in one hand and a bull whip in the other going some place to lynch some Negro who, if he got his just deserts, would be elected governor.”

  4. I have a copy of Weep No More My Lady. I have had it for a long time-40 plus years. Printed 1950. Title by Stella Glass Debnam Printing by Graphic Press, Raleigh, NC.
    Condition is reasonable.
    Thank you

  5. my grandmother is susan poole debnam who now live in ireland. her uncle is we debnm. he did not found the standard laconic his brother did.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *