Eleanor Roosevelt Resigns from the DAR — Today in History
In February 1939, Howard University invited Marian Anderson, the internationally famous African American contralto singer, to give a concert. They asked the Washington headquartered Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) if they could use their auditorium, Constitution Hall.
The DAR refused, explaining that local conditions and custom did not favor such a move. In protest, DAR member and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the organization.
A Gallup poll taken at the time showed that 67% of the public approved of her action.
Moving quickly to capitalize on this public support, Anderson’s manager Sol Hurok proposed that Anderson give an open-air concert at the Lincoln Memorial. Harold Ickes, the Secretary of the Interior promptly approved the idea and on April 9th a crowd of 75,000 people assembled before the Lincoln Memorial to hear Ms. Anderson sing.
Above is a copy of Mrs. Roosevelt’s DAR resignation letter, 2/26/39. Read More
-from the FDR Library
This morning, the world learned of the passing of legendary folk singer Pete Seeger.
In March of 1961 Seeger was facing trial for contempt of Congress after refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Pete Seeger wrote to President Kennedy:
"I would not take up your valuable time with my personal problem, except that I feel it is a very fundamental one which concerns all America these days. Do I, or does any citizen, have the right to hold unorthodox opinions, whether they are purely right or horribly wrong, and do I have the right to join with others who think similarly?"
Arlo Guthrie also wrote to JFK asking him to "please do what you can for Pete Seeger."
-from the Kennedy Library
In the aftermath of the assassination of President Kennedy, people from all over the world wrote to the First Family expressing their sympathy and respect.
The JFK Library recently opened a new series of condolence mail from Mrs. Kennedy’s personal papers containing many of these letters. Bob Thorn, a thirteen-year old wrote:
"It was kind of my fault because I feel I wasn’t a good student. My mark in American History, (in which we were studying about the government and the President) was a C… Next term I promise you I’ll get an A."
Letter from Damon Cleveland to President Reagan Urging the Creation of a Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday
Several students from the P.S. 241 school in Brooklyn, New York wrote letters to President Reagan shortly after his inauguration, urging him to make Dr. King’s birthday a national holiday.
On November 2, 1983, President Reagan signed the Act of Congress that created the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday to occur on the third Monday in January.
"Please put this at the top of your list of things to do."
from the Presidential Timeline
Condolence letter to Jacqueline Kennedy from Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr.
"Again my thanks, my pledge and my passionate hope that your words may become history. And I believe they will!"
— John Steinbeck to JFK
A letter from author John Steinbeck to President Kennedy, thanking him for his dedication to the arts.
(From the White House Central Subject Files, Box 711, Folder: PP 6-1 Entertainers)
On this day in 2004, Ronald Reagan lost his nearly ten-year battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. President Reagan informed the nation of his condition in November of 1994. In a candid, handwritten letter he wrote:
"At the moment, I feel just fine… Unfortunately, as Alzheimer’s Disease progresses, the family often bears a heavy burden. I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy from the painful experience."
In 1995, Ronald and Nancy Reagan established an institute dedicated to the study of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Ronald Reagan passed away at home in California at the age of 93.