In Asheville, Eleanor Roosevelt held her tongue

“I was asked if I was open to political questions and said ‘yes.’ But I did not know until I heard the question if I would answer it or not. One of the first was, ‘Would I consider that the Administration had done all that it could to give leadership in the question of desegregation.’

“Suddenly I could visualize the headlines which would focus on this much-argued point in the South as against the real reason for our visit. So I promptly announced that I had come here to talk about the United Nations and I thought that my views on the subject of civil rights were well enough known for me not to discuss them on this particular visit. That saved me from any further difficulties on that score.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt in her “My Day” column, recalling her 1956 visit to the YWCA in Asheville

Though reluctant to address race in her talk, Roosevelt had stipulated a venue that would accommodate both blacks and whites — scarce in still-segregated Asheville.

h/t Mountain Xpress

 

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