Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Eleanor Roosevelt in Manteo for Brother's Birthday, 1939

From Eleanor Roosevelt’s “My Day” column, published in various newspapers on July 3, 1939. 

WASHINGTON, Sunday—Miss Thompson and I reached Washington Friday evening, and on Saturday morning, bright and early, we started for Manteo, North Carolina, where my brother planned his birthday celebration with a number of his friends. It was a very jolly party and I enjoyed it very much.
However, stern duty called us back to Richmond, Va., in time for lunch on Sunday and we had a pleasant time with the Governor of Virginia and Mrs. Price.
In the afternoon, duty came to the fore in the shape of a speech at the meeting in Richmond of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. I also had the privilege of presenting the Spingarn Medal to Miss Marian Anderson in recognition of her achievement as one of the great artists of this time.
We reached Washington again in the early evening.
This morning I had the pleasure of spending an hour with some state representative of the Social Security Board and then I flew back to New York City to attend two sessions of the American Youth Congress.
Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, and my contact with different groups in the last few days has emphasized for me the meaning of this celebration. I wish that in some way, on this day, we could make every individual think first about the freedom which is theirs in the United States of America. This day celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence. As the years have gone by we have voluntarily imposed upon ourselves certain limitations to our freedom, but we imposed these limitations of ourselves! When we pass a law, it is the will of the majority of the people, otherwise it is soon repealed. It is that fact that we live by the will of the majority, which makes our government different than any other form of government.
It means great responsibility for every individual, but it also means that we have the satisfaction in knowing that whatever we obey, we obey because we have had a part in making the decision. Even if in individual cases we are at variance with the majority, we know we concurred originally in the decision that the will of the majority should rule.
Independence Day, the Fourth of July, should also be a day of rededication to the spirit of democracy and to our own citizenship in a democracy.

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