Walter White to Eleanor Roosevelt, October 20, 1947
Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:
I tried to reach you at the United Nations today but without success. I wanted to ask your advice and, if it would not embarrass you in your official connection, your aid in the matter of arrangements for presentation of our petition to the United Nations on this Thursday at 12 noon in M. Henri Laugier’s office. M. Laugier and Mr. John P. Humphrey are to receive the petition.
The ceremony will be brief and simple. I shall make a two-minute preliminary statement and then introduce Dr. Du Bois who will speak for about the same length of time.
We have invited approximately 125 distinguished white and Negro Americans to be present as well as the heads of all delegations to the United Nations. We estimate that between 100 and 150 persons will be present. In addition we have notified the newspapers, newsreel and radio companies.
The fact that such attention is being paid to the petition seems to disturb some of the United Nations personnel and there has been indicated to us a desire to limit the number of persons to not more than five or six including newspaper men. This, I fear, is quite impossible. A dozen or more United Nations delegations have requested copies of the petition including the United Kingdom, Russia, Union of South Africa, India, Argentina, Denmark, Mexico, Poland, Pakistan, Egypt, Haiti and Liberia. Newspapermen from all over the world have requested copies. And even as I dictate this a Norwegian journalist is waiting to see me. The matter cannot be kept secret, so great is the interest. We hope that the matter can be worked out satisfactorily and to this end I ask your advice and assistance.
Mr. Humphrey has informed us that it will not be possible to bring the petition before either the General Assembly or the Economic and Social Council unless the matter is taken up by a member Government and circulation of the petition proposed by it. He adds, however, that there does exist certain machinery for bringing petitions of this kind to the attention of the Commission on Human Rights and that this is what will be done with our petition.