Eleanor Roosevelt – My Day: December 1-7

December 2, 1957

“NEW YORK—People all over the world have been asked to sign a Declaration of Conscience to observe a day of protest against South Africa’s apartheid policy. An international committee, composed of more than 150 world leaders from more than 43 nations, has designated Human Rights Day, December 10, as this worldwide day of protest. Particularly in India and in Africa, as well as in many other countries of the world, there will be demonstrations protesting the policy which is felt to be harmful to human relations the world over. Therefore it cannot be the domestic concern of one nation only, but of all nations…

…When I was asked to sign this Declaration of Conscience, I at first hesitated. I felt that a country which needed to look at its own situation and acknowledge the basic rights of all its own citizens and work for the necessary changes which would bring every citizen in the U.S. the opportunity for complete development of his powers, might better perhaps first sign a Declaration of Conscience covering his own country. I signed, however, because the situation here, bad as it is, is not quite the same as the situation in South Africa. The Negroes of our South have good leaders and though their education has been insufficient and their opportunities for advancement certainly not equal, still they have begun their upward climb. They are able to do much for themselves, and on the whole in this country there is a vast majority of people who are ready and willing to help them achieve equality of opportunity in every area of our complicated civilization.”

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