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In September King began writing an advice column in Ebony, a black-oriented month

ly magazine. The column ran until December 1958, and the questions King answered
ranged from queries regarding race relations to those onpersonal morality.1
Question: My wife and I live in Mississippi. Our children are becoming conscious
of racial diffeences. We are Negroes, but we do not want our children to grow u
p hating white people for the wrongs we suffer. How can we prevent this?
Answer: You should teach your children at an early age that it is both morally w
rong and psychologically harmful to hate anyone. Hate does more harm to the hate
r than it does to the hated. You must stress the fact that the hate and injustic
e which have been heaped upon Negroes for many years should be met with love and
goodwill. Through such wholesome love on the part of Negroes it will be possibl
e to solve the race problem much more speedily and create a society in which all
men may live together as brothers. If this attitude gets over to your child at
an early age he will grow up with a healthy attitude toward all people.
Question: I am stationed in an army camp in Alabama. We are treated fine on the
base, but the town is extremely prejudiced. Negro GIs can go nowhere with their
white buddies. It makes us very bitter. How can I justify fighting for a democra
cy that treats me like this?
Answer: It is certainly unfortunate that men will be called to defend a democrac
y that denies them the basic and fundamental rights guaranteed by that democracy
. This is one of the basic contradictions of our democracy. You must believe, ho
wever, that conditions will continue to improve. Progress has already been made
and progress will continue to be made. Democracy transformed from thin paper to
thick action is one of the greatest forms of government on earth, and we must ha
ve faith to believe that we will be able to achieve democracy right here in Amer
ica. I would urge you not to become bitter. If you respond to the present situat
ion that you confront in Alabama with bitterness, the new order which is emergin
g in America will be nothing but a duplication ofthe old order.
Question: My husband is a minister. He is a handsome man, a fact that has caused
him no end of trouble. All of the women in our congregation adore him, but some
indicate that their interests are not entirely spiritual. What can he do to dis
courage them?
Answer: Your husband has the responsibility to minister to the spiritual needs o
f every member of his congregation. In order to do this he must be sure at all t
imes that his personal life is on the highest moral and spiritual plane. If he r
emains on this high level of spiritual and moral dignity, even the most aggressi
ve woman will have to respect him. Almost every minister has the problem of conf
ronting women in his congregation whose interests are not entirely spiritual. Th
is he is not responsible for. But if he carries himself in a manner representati
ve of the highest mandates of Christian living, his very person will discourage
their approaches.
Question: I hold a responsible position in my town and I am also a deacon of my
church. Occasionally, I am called upon to attend cocktail parties. Often times,
these cocktail parties are connected with my business position. I attend, but I
always feel guilty. What should I do?
Answer: The structure of our society has come to the point that it is almost imp
ossible for business and professional people to avoid being invited to cocktail
parties on some occasions. If you are attending such parties because it is a nec
essary part of your business relationships, hardly anyone could condemn you. How
ever, it is possible to attend a cocktail party and not participate in the drink
ing activities. This is an individual choice which one must make himself.

Question: My worst fault is a nasty temper. When I'm angry, I say things to thos
e I love that hurt them terribly. How can I overcome my bad temper?
Answer: You are certainly on the right road of getting rid of your bad temper. Y
ou recognize that you have this weakness, and you honestly admit it. The first s
tep toward eliminating any moral weakness is a recognition of a weakness to be e
liminated. You should also seek to concentrate on the higher virtue of calmness.
You expel a lower vice by concentrating on a higher virtue. If you will continu
ally concentrate on the necessity of being calm and even tempered you will soon
remove your nasty temper by this higher concentration. A destructive passion is
harnessed by directing that same passion into constructive channels. Finally, yo
u should submit your will to the power and scrutiny of God. Ultimately one is ch
anged by totally surrendering his will to Gods will. You cannot solve the problem
alone. You must realize the need for depending on a higher power.
Question: Im in love with a white man whom Ive known for two years. We met at
the company where we work. I want to marry him, although both of our parents obj
ect. I know that he loves me, too. Should we go ahead and get married anyway?
Answer: The decision as to whether you should marry a white man whom you have kn
own for two years is a decision that you and your friend must make together. Pro
perly speaking, races do not marry, individuals marry. There is nothing morally
wrong with an interracial marriage. There are many other things, however, that m
ust be taken under consideration in any interracial marriage. The traditions of
our society have been so set and crystallized that many social obstacles stand i
n the way of persons involved in an interracial marriage. If persons entering su
ch a marriage are thoroughly aware of these obstacles and feel that they have th
e power and stability to stand up amid them, then there is no reason why these p
ersons should not be married. Studies reveal that interracial couples who have c
ome together with a thorough understanding of conditions that exist, have marrie
d and lived together very happily.
PD. Ebony, September 1957, p. 74.
1. While it is unclear how the initial arrangements for "Advice for Living" were
made, King completed preliminary work on this column in July (see D. Parke Gibs
on to King, 22 July 1957). Lerone Bennett, Jr., a fellow Morehouse graduate and
associate editor at Ebony,facilitated work on the column by mailing readers que
stions to King in Montgomery. Bennett may also have helped interest King in the
idea. An advertisement for the column appeared in the 5 September 1957 edition o
f Ebonys sister publication Jet, advising readers to send family or religious p
roblems to King: "Let the man that led the Montgomery boycott lead you into happ
ier living."
Question: Why did God make Jesus white, when the majority of peoples in the worl
d are non-white?
Answer: The color of Jesus skin is of little or no consequence. The whiteness or
blackness of ones skin is a biological quality which has nothing to do with the i
ntrinsic value of the personality. The significance of Jesus lay, not in His col
or, but in His unique God-consciousness and His willingness to surrender His wil
l to Gods will. He was the Son of God, not because of His external biological mak
e-up, but because of His internal spiritual commitment. He would have been no mo
re significant if His skin had been black. He is no less significant because His
skin was white.1
Question: Our family has had more than its share of pain and trouble. Does God s
end pain and anguish to punish us for our sins and the sins of our fathers?
Answer: You are really raising the question, Why do men suffer? It is often true t

hat we suffer because of sins we consciously or unconsciously commit. There are

moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws, and when we dis
obey these moral laws we suffer tragic consequences. It is also true that the in
terrelatedness of human life often necessitates our suffering for the sins of ou
r forefathers. We must admit, however, that we are often the victims of pain and
suffering that cannot be explained by sins committed by ourselves or our forefa
thers. We must admit that there is some mystery surrounding Gods being. There are
certain things that happen in our lives and in the life of the universe that we
just cant explain in rational terms. You must live by the faith that all sufferi
ng has some purpose which the finite mind of man can never comprehend.
Question: My husband follows the horses closely. He says that it is legally righ
t to gamble, but I say it is morally wrong. Is it possible to reconcile our conf
licting viewpoints?
Answer: Your husband is correct in saying that gambling is often legally right.
You, however, are correct in saying that gambling is morally wrong. One should l
ive by the principle that he will not take from society without giving to it. Th
e orderly existence of society is dependent upon this type of reciprocity. Gambl
ing is based on the principle of taking from society without giving anything in
return. It is really getting something for nothing. Powerful, organized gambling
makes for a breakdown in the structure of social life and a breakdown in the mo
ral principles of any society. You should seek to get this idea over to your hus
band by patiently explaining the moral issues involved. You should make it clear
to him that a thing may be legally right and morally wrong.
Question: How do you reconcile Pauls statements on obeying duly-constituted autho
rities, Romans 13 :1-7, with the Negros campaign of passive resistance in the Sou
Answer: Like many Biblical affirmations, the words of the Apostle Paul must be i
nterpreted in terms of the historical setting and psychological mood of the age
in which they were written. The Apostle Paul--along with all of the early Christ
ians--believed that the world was coming to an end in a few days. Feeling that t
he time was not long the Apostle Paul urged men to concentrate on preparing them
selves for the new age rather than changing external conditions. It was this bel
ief in the coming new age and the second coming of Christ which conditioned a gr
eat deal of Pauls thinking. Early Christianity was far from accepting the existin
g social order as satisfactory, but it was conscious of no mission to change it
for the better. It taught its adherence neither to conform to the external frame
work of their time, nor to seek directly to alter it, but to live within it a li
fe rooted in a totally different order. Today we live in a new age, with a diffe
rent theological emphasis; consequently we have both a moral and religious justi
fication for passively resisting evil conditions within the social order.
Question: I believe in integration and work for it with all my heart, but I am u
nable to reconcile my feelings on this point with continued support of the Unite
d Negro College Fund. Am I wrong?
Answer: I feel that you are wrong in your feeling concerning the United Negro Co
llege Fund. There is no contradiction in believing in integration and supporting
the United Negro College Fund. You must remember that although Negro colleges a
re by and large segregated institutions, they are not segregating institutions.
If these colleges are properly supported they will survive in an integrated soci
ety. Many of these colleges already have white students. It is not true to feel
that as soon as integration becomes a thoroughgoing reality the so-called Negro
private colleges will close down. In supporting these Negro colleges we are only
seeking to make sure that the quality and caliber of these schools are of such
nature that they will be appealing to all people.

Question: Im confused, I hear some men of God argue persuasively in favor of segr
egation and then others say its sinful. I would like to know once and for all, wi
th no ifs, ands and buts, can a man be a Christian and a staunch segregationist,
Answer: I do not feel that a man can be a Christian and a staunch segregationist
simultaneously. All men, created alike in the image of God, are inseparately bo
und together. This is at the very heart of the Christian Gospel. This broad univ
ersalism standing at the center of the Christian Gospel makes segregation morall
y evil. Racial segregation is a blatant denial of the unity which we have in Chr
ist. There is not a single passage in the Bible--properly interpreted--that can
be used as an argument for segregation. Segregation is utterly unchristian. It s
ubstitutes the person-thing relationship for the person-to-person relationship.
PD. Ebony, October 1957, p.53.
1.Following the publication of this column, King received a follow-up question f
rom a reader who was disturbed by Kings apparent acceptance of the belief that Jesu
s was white: I believe, as you do, that skin color shouldnt be important, but I dont b
elieve Jesus was white. What is the basis for your assumption that he was? King d
id not reply (Questions and answers for Advice for Living, 21 October 1957).
Question: My husband is one of the pillars of the church. He attends all service
s and contributes generously to all church activities. But when he comes home, h
e changes completely. He is a complete tyrant at home. He seems to hate me and t
he children, too. What can I do? He was once a good man.
Answer: I would suggest that you analyze the whole situation and see if there is
anything within your personality that arouses this tyrannical response from you
r husband. Second, you should sit down and patiently talk over the whole matter
with your husband, showing him the unhappiness and disharmony that he is bringin
g within the whole family. Third, since your husband is a devout church-man, you
may consider counseling with your minister on this problem. He could probably s
ay things to both of you that would restore the balance and stability of the hom
Question: Do you think God approves the death penalty for crimes like rape and m
Answer: I do not think God approves the death penalty for any crime--rape and mu
rder included. Gods concern is to improve individuals and bring them to the point
of conversion. Even criminology has repudiated the motive of punishment in favo
r of the reformation of the criminal. Shall a good God harbor resentment? Since
the purpose of jailing a criminal is that of reformation rather than retribution
--improving him rather than paying him back for some crime that he has done--it
is highly inconsistent to take the life of a criminal. How can he improve if his
life is taken? Capital punishment is against the best judgment of modern crimin
ology and, above all, against the highest expression of love in the nature of Go
Question: Is love really the solution to the race problem? Are there not times w
hen a man must stand up and fight fire with fire? I will grant that love, as Jes
us lived it, is the ultimate ideal. But it seems to me preachers ought to be hon
est and tell folks if they live by the turn-the-other-cheek doctrine, the sharp
boys out here in this cold world will strip them and boil them in oil. Why dont y
ou preachers admit that love, in the highest sense of the word, is impractical i
n the world of today?
Answer: I am convinced that love is the most durable power in the world. It is n
ot an expression of impractical idealism; but of practical realism. Far from bei

ng the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, love is an absolute necessity for

the survival of our civilization. To return hate for hate does nothing but inten
sify the existence of evil in the universe. Someone must have sense enough and r
eligion enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil, and this can only be done
through love. Moreover, love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unit
es; hate tears down and destroys. The aftermath of the fight fire with fire method
which you suggest is bitterness and chaos; the aftermath of the love method is
reconciliation and the creation of the beloved community. Physical force can rep
ress, restrain, coerce, destroy, but it cannot create and organize anything perm
anent; only love can do that. Yes love--which means understanding, creative, red
emptive goodwill, even for ones enemies--is the solution to the race problem. Oft
en love is crucified and buried in a grave, but in the long run it rises up and
redeems even that which crucifies it.
Question: Our social set seems to be typical. The husbands are interested in not
hing but Scotch, sports cars and girlie magazines, and the wives do nothing but
gossip, drink gin and buy clothes. My husband gets along well with this group, b
ut I dont. It seems to me that there are more important things in life. Am I bein
g snobbish?
Answer: I do not think you are being snobbish; you are simply responding to the
highest and best in your being. You are not saying that you are better than thes
e persons intrinsically, but that you are giving your life to better spiritual a
nd creative principles. You are simply living by the principle that every indivi
dual is made for that which is high, noble, and good. Man is more than a dog to
be satisfied by the bones of sensory pleasure and showy materialism: He is a bei
ng of spirit, born for the stars and created for eternity. He who lives his life
on the shallow level of the social set that you mention deprives himself of lif
e in its fullness and makes impossible the fullfilment of his creative developme
Question: I was raised in a Christian environment. My father placed great stress
on premarital virginity. Of late, I have begun to doubt the validity of his tea
ching. I am now 29. Over the years, I have lost many boyfriends to other girls w
ho had a more liberal attitude toward sex. I recently met a wonderful fellow, wh
o says no general rule is applicable to all situations. Is he right?
Answer: I think you should hold firm to the principle of premarital virginity. T
he problems created by premarital sex relationships are far greater than the pro
blems created by premarital virginity. The suspicion, fears, and guilt feelings
generated by premarital sex relations are contributing factors to the present br
eakdown of the family. Real men still respect purity and virginity within women.
If a man breaks a relationship with you because you would not allow him to part
icipate in the sexual act, you can be assured that he did not love you from the
Question: Im finding it hard to adjust in a white school in the North. The white
students are either distant or so gushingly nice that it makes you sick at the s
tomach. The Negro students, on the other hand, divide into two groups: a minorit
y who aggressively seek white companionship and avoid being identified as Negroe
s, and the majority who cut themselves off from the whites and associate only wi
th Negroes. Which direction do you think is right?
Answer: This is a problem that usually arises in the transition from segregated
to integrated living. You must face this problem by dealing with your fellow stu
dents as human beings rather than members of particular racial groups. The white
ness and blackness of the skin should in no way determine the relationship. Prop
erly speaking, a Negro should never have a white friend; he should have a friend w
ho happens to be white. A white person should never have a colored friend; he shou
ld have a friend who happens to be colored. So you should seek to freely associa

te with white and Negro students, realizing that the relationship is determined
by the common humanity of all rather than by race.
Question: We have seven children and another one is on the way. Our four-room ap
artment is bursting at the seams and living space in Harlem is at a premium. I h
ave suggested to my husband that we practice birth control, but he says that whe
n God thinks we have enough children, He will put a stop to it. Ive tried to reas
on with him, but he says that birth control is sinful. Is he right?
Answer: I do not think it is correct to argue that birth control is sinful. It i
s a serious mistake to suppose that it is a religious act to allow nature to hav
e its way in the sex life. The truth is that the natural order is given us, not
as an absolute finality, but as something to be guided and controlled. In the ca
se of birth control the real question at issue is that between rational control
and resort to chance. Another thing that must be said is that changes in social
and economic conditions make smaller families desirable, if not necessary. As yo
u suggest, the limited quarters available in our large cities and the high cost
of living preclude such large families as were common a century or so ago. A fin
al consideration is that women must be considered as more than breeding machines.
It is true that the primary obligation of the woman is that of motherhood, but a
n intelligent mother wants it to be a responsible motherhood--a motherhood to wh
ich she has given her consent, not a motherhood due to impulse and to chance. An
d this means birth control in some form. All of these factors, seem to me, to ma
ke birth control rationally and morally justifiable.
Question: Im a preacher in a small town in Mississippi. For a long lime now, I ha
ve been dissatisfied with the way things are here. I dont think I can stand the J
im Crow and segregation much longer. But if I speak out and ignore the Jim Crow
laws, Ill either be killed or run out of town. Ive been praying and trying to figu
re a way out. What do you think I should do?
Answer: I can well understand the predicament you find yourself in. You have at
least three choices: First, you can leave Mississippi and go to a relatively non
-segregated community. Second, you can tacitly accept the Jim Crow laws of Missi
ssippi. Third, you can courageously stand up against them and suffer the consequ
ences. I would not suggest that you accept the first two choices. As a Christian
minister and a symbol of the new Negro you have the responsibility to stand up
courageously against the Jim Crow laws of your city regardless of the consequenc
es. The fear of physical death and being run out of town should not be your prim
ary concern. Your primary concern should be a devotion to truth, justice, and fr
eedom. Often this means bearing a cross, but like Jesus you must be willing to b
ear it, realizing that unearned suffering is redemptive. This is hard to do, but
it is a sacrifice that we must make if we are to be free.
Question: My six-year-old daughter has been emotionally upset since the birth of
her infant sister. My friends tell me she feels unwanted because the new baby r
eceives more attention than she does. What can I do as a mother to help her adju
st to the fact of having a new child in the family? My baby has been sickly and
requires constant care.
Answer: This is not at all an uncommon problem. Almost every child feels a mixtu
re of jealousy and love at the coming of a new brother or sister. There are time
s when the jealous response is dominant. This seems to be the case with your six
-year-old daughter. You therefore have two jobs: to protect the baby, and reassu
re the older child that you love her. It may be that your child is a little more
sensitive at this point than the average child. The child who turns mopey in hi
s jealousy, being of a more sensitive and inturning nature, needs affection, rea
ssurance and drawing out even more than the child who eases his feelings by mino
r violence. You may also help your daughter by making her feel that the baby sis
ter is hers, not just in words, but in action. Let her help if she feels like it

, in getting the babys bottle from the icebox and bringing the towels for her bat
h. Let her hold her in her lap while she sits on the floor. Above all dont allow
yourself to be overly excited over the new baby in the early weeks. Treat her ca
sually. Dont gloat over her. Dont talk a lot about her. As far as possible take ca
re of her while the older one is not around. Finally, help your daughter to find
interests outside the family circle. Much of the jealousy will pass away as the
child draws away a little from her parents and builds a position for herself am
ong her friends.
Question: Do you believe that the development and use of nuclear weapons of war
should be banned?
Answer: I definitely feel that the development and use of nuclear weapons of war
should be banned. It cannot be disputed that a full scale nuclear war would be
utterly catastrophic. Hundreds and millions of people would be killed outright b
y the blast and heat, and by the ionizing radiation produced at the instant of t
he explosion. If so-called dirty bombs were used, large areas would be made uninha
bitable for extended periods of time, and additional hundreds and millions of pe
ople would probably die from delayed effects of local fall-out radiation--some i
n the exposed population from direct radiation injury and some in succeeding gen
erations as a result of genetic effects. Even countries not directly hit by bomb
s would suffer through global fall-outs. All of this leads me to say that the pr
incipal objective of all nations must be the total abolition of war. War must be
finally eliminated or the whole of mankind will be plunged into the abyss of an
Question: I am a widow in the mid-fifties. Recently, I met and fell in love with
a 28-year-old man. My friends say I am being foolish; they say this man is only
after the money my late husband left me. But they are wrong. I love this man de
eply and Im sure he loves me. Im sure my late husband would understand. Do you t
hink we should go ahead and get married despite the objections of my friends and
the catty talk well have to face in the community?
Answer: I think you should think a great deal about this venture before you ente
r it. I must frankly say to you that the possible disadvantages of such a union
are far greater than the advantages. With such a tremendous age gap there is lit
tle possibility for compatibility, either physically or emotionally. Marriage is
at bottom a state of adjustment between two individuals who are seeking to be o
ne; and with the adult life of your mate still unfolding it is almost impossible
for this adjustment to take place. It is probably true that you love this young
man, but love must always be tempered with reason. Love devoid of rational and
practical considerations can become a wild and fanatical emotion that can only l
ead to psychological disintegration.
PD. Ebony, December 1957, p. 120.
Question: I live with my father who is ill. I want to marry the man I love, but
I am afraid my relatives will get angry if marry and leave my father. I have two
sisters--one is twelve and the other is fourteen--who can take care of him. Sho
uld I marry?
Answer: You are to be admired for being so devoted to your father and so concern
ed about his condition that you will consider postponing marriage at this time.
I do not feel, however, that your fathers condition should deprive you of the gre
at experience of marriage. I am sure that your father would feel the same way. S
ince you have sisters who are old enough to give some attention to your father y
ou may well alternate with them in taking care of him. It seems to me that you c
ould very well marry at this time and have a clear understanding with your husba
nd concerning your fathers condition. You can make it clear that because of his i
llness you have a moral responsibility to assist in taking care of him. With thi

s clear understanding you should be able to marry and still keep things together
at your fathers home.
Question: I have been married 21 years and they have all been hell. Excuse the w
ord, but that is the case. What can a man do to make a marriage a success? My wi
fe will not go with me to our pastor or to a social worker. I work two jobs so t
hat she can have anything she wants. But she shows no interest. The house is alw
ays dusty and dirty. She just doesnt seem to care.
Answer: In advising anyone on marital problems I usually begin by urging each pe
rson to do an honest job of self analysis. Although you feel that you have done
all within your power to make the marriage a success it would be well to ask you
rself the question whether you have done anything to cause your wife to react th
e way she does. After this I feel that you should have a heart to heart talk wit
h your wife and seek to show her the points at which she can improve and at the
same time admit that if there are any points at which you are lacking you too ar
e willing to improve. No marriage can be successful without mutual respect, abid
ing faith, and absolute love. If these factors are present you can work out the
seemingly insoluble problems you now confront. I think you should also insist th
at your wife join you in discussing this matter with your minister. Often when m
arital difficulties develop a counsellor can be of immeasurable help in strength
ening the union.
Question: My problem is different from the ones most people have. I am a boy, bu
t I feel about boys the way I ought to feel about girls. I dont want my parents t
o know about me. What can I do? Is there any place where I can go for help?
Answer: Your problem is not at all an uncommon one. However, it does require car
eful attention. The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an
innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired. Your reasons
for adopting this habit have now been consciously suppressed or unconsciously re
pressed. Therefore, it is necessary to deal with this problem by getting back to
some of the experiences and circumstances that lead to the habit. In order to d
o this I would suggest that you see a good psychiatrist who can assist you in br
inging to the forefront of conscience all of those experiences and circumstances
that lead to the habit. You are already on the right road toward a solution, si
nce you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it.
Question: The harder I work the further in debt I get. I cant seem to get on an e
ven keel. Please tell me what I should do.
Answer: In order to deal with your problem it is necessary for you to get to the
root of it. There are many reasons why one can stay in continual debt, no matte
r how hard he works. For instance, you should ask yourself whether you are livin
g above your means. This is one of the most prevalent ways to stay in an economi
c strain. This simply means that the price that you pay for your automobile, hom
e, clothes, etc., should be within the bounds of your basic income. It has been
proposed by some of the best economists that ones automobile should not cost more
than half of his annual income, and his home should not cost more than twice hi
s annual income. If one follows this pattern he can avoid much economic frustrat
ion. I would also suggest that you save something every week, no matter how smal
l your salary is. If you follow a consistent pattern at this point you will be s
urprised to know how much you have saved by the end of the year. With such a sav
ing you will always have something to fall back on when emergencies arise.
Question: I have been divorced from my husband for nine years and I have been da
ting a young man for six and one-half years. We are very much in love, but he fe
els that it is wrong for us to marry while my ex-husband is still alive. Will we
be living in sin if we marry now?

Answer: The young man that you are dating probably feels that it is sinful to ma
rry while an ex-husband or wife is still alive because this has been a strong te
aching in many religious bodies. However, I feel that religion, while remaining
true to absolute moral standards, should forever help individuals adjust to the
changing problem of life. The Christian Church must continue to take a strong st
and on the problem of divorce which is plaguing the American family, while at th
e same time continuing to give guidance to those individuals who, for various re
asons, find it almost impossible to live together. In the light of these conside
rations I would not consider it an immoral act for you and your boy friend to ma
rry if you are in love. I would strongly advise you to profit by the experiences
and mistakes of your former marriage.
Question: I find so many Negroes trying to be everything but a Negro. Why is the
Negro so ashamed of his race? Why cant you find books about Negroes in the homes
of Negroes?
Answer: A sociologist has recently written a work in which he affirms that the N
egro middle class has no cultural roots because he rejects the culture of the ma
sses of Negroes and is himself rejected by the white middle class with whom he s
eeks to identify. This lack of cultural roots leaves him victimized with a tragi
c sense of inferiority and self-hatred. This analysis, while lacking at some poi
nts, has many elements of truth. The Negro must always guard against the danger
of becoming ashamed ofhimself and his past. There is much in the heritage of the
Negro that each of us can be proud of. The oppression that we have faced, partl
y because of the color of our skin, must not cause us to feel that everything no
nwhite is objectionable. The content of ones character is the important thing, no
t the color of his skin. We must teach every Negro child that rejection of herit
age means loss of cultural roots, and people who have no past have no future.
Question: I
orld that I
here are no
y? I do not

am an Oklahoma white woman. I feel so antagonistic toward the word C

because of white peoples attitude toward the colored peoples of the w
cannot make myself attend church and worship under such hypocrisy. T
interracial churches here. Is it necessary for me to worship publicl
feel free to ask this question of a white preacher.

Answer: I can well understand your antagonistic attitude toward the Christian ch
urch for its failure to match practice with profession in the area of the brothe
rhood of man. It is still appallingly true that eleven oclock on Sunday morning,
when we stand to sing In Christ There Is No East or West, is the most segregated h
our in Christian America. In spite of this, the church is making progress. More
and more the moral conscience of Christendom is being aroused on the question of
race. It is for this reason that I would advise you to stay with the church. It
will be persons like yourself that will keep the church moving on toward the id
eal of brotherhood. You can always help a situation more when you are in it than
you can from the outside. Internal criticism is always more effective than exte
rnal criticism. I hope you will stay with the church and continue to sting its c
onscience on the question of race and color.
Question: My husband and I have been married for nine years and have five childr
en. We have never had an understanding about money. I have never had any money f
or personal use or anything else. When I ask him about his salary or his money,
he gets mad and starts to arguing. This has been going on for nine years. Is a w
ife entitled to an allowance or a little money from her husband for personal use
? Does a wife have a right to know her husbands salary?
Answer: I think you are quite right in feeling that your husband should give you
money for personal use. There are always those personal items and individualist
ic concerns that a woman should not be deprived of simply because she is married
. I also feel that it is a good idea to know your husbands salary and as many of
his business concerns as possible. This is in no way to infringe upon his indivi

duality, but it is simply a safeguard in the event that something happens to him
. It is unfortunate indeed that many husbands have passed on and left their wive
s without one iota of business judgment. This has often resulted in the unnecess
ary loss of money. Therefore, I would advise you to seek to show your husband th
e practicality as well as the morality of discussing his salary and business con
cerns with you. Marriage is a cooperative enterprise in which two individuals ar
e seeking to become one. You may do well to seek to convince your husband of the
wisdom of having joint bank accounts.
Question: Ive been in trouble one way or another all my life. My problem is that
I dont like to fight unless I have to. Like you said in a speech once, when someo
ne hates you dont fight back but love them and pray for them. Well, I do that, bu
t it doesnt seem to help. Last night I got into an argument with one of my friend
s. When I walked off he hit me over the head with an iron pipe. The fellows told
me I should have killed him, but instead I went home and prayed for him. What s
hould I do to get people to understand me?
Answer: It is very difficult to get a dont fight back philosophy over to a group of
people who have come up under a tradition that so strongly expresses a philosop
hy of hitting back. It is very difficult to get over a philosophy of non-violenc
e to people who have been taught from the cradle that violence must be met with
violence. But you must somehow continue to follow this way in word and in deed.
You must get over to your comrades that the man who does not hit back is the str
ong man. To return violence for violence does nothing but intensify the existenc
e of violence and evil in the universe. Someone must have sense enough and moral
ity enough to cut off the chain of violence and hate. It is ultimately the stron
g man who can do this. He who accepts violence without returning it is much stro
nger than he who inflicts it.
Question: I am a white boy who is in love with a girl of your race. A few of my
white "friends" (I use that word very loosely) say that the Bible is against int
erracial marriage. They cannot point out the passages and I have found no such p
assage in the Bible. Can you advise me?
Answer: I have not found any passage in the Bible condemning interracial marriag
e. It is true that there are occasional references condemning marriage between p
ersons of different religious groups, but it is never on the basis of race. In o
ther words, the Jews were often admonished not to marry persons of another relig
ion. But there was never condemnation of one marrying beyond racial lines. There
fore, one who stands against interracial marriages can find no justification in
the Bible for that particular view. Actually, there is nothing immoral or irreli
gious. Marriage is at bottom a mutual agreement between two individuals. One alw
ays has the freedom to say yes or no to the agreement. Individuals marry, not ra
Question: I was under the impression that the NAACP was strictly a Negro organiz
ation. Is it true that it is was founded by whites and that it is run and backed
by whites today?
Answer: The NAACP has never been strictly a Negro organization. It has been an i
nterracial organization from the very beginning. The organization grew out of a
conference between Mary White Ovington, William Henry Walling and Henry Moskowit
z which was held in January, 1909 to discuss problems of discrimination against
Negroes in the United States. A second conference was held in May of 1909 in New
York City and a committee of forty was formed to begin the national work. It wa
s at this meeting that the NAACP was organized as a permanent body. W. E. B. DuB
ois became an executive in the association and publication of the Crisis Magazin
e begun in November 1910 with DuBois as editor. So it is clear that the NAACP ha
s been interracial from the very moment of its origin. It continues to be an int
erracial organization to the present day. Many of the officers and board members

are white persons. It is not quite true to say that the organization is run by
white persons today. It would be more accurate to say that white persons of good
will are working cooperatively with Negroes to solve a problem that is harmful t
o the whole of America. The white persons who work with the NAACP are persons wh
o have a great passion for human dignity and racial justice.
Question: Do you think Negroes are partly responsible for their plight? They dont
stick together and they dont help each other. Negroes, for example, will walk pa
st a Negro-owned grocery store or shoe shop to get to a white place. Instead of
trying to make themselves financially independent, most Negroes are trying to ke
ep up with the Joneses. Isnt it time for us to stop begging and stand on our own
Answer: I quite agree that there is a great deal that the Negro can do to lift h
imself by his own bootstraps. Well has it been said by one that Negroes too ofte
n buy what they want and beg for what they need. Negroes must learn to practice
systematic saving. They must also pool their economic resources through various
cooperative enterprises. Such agencies as credit unions, savings and loan associ
ations, and finance companies are needed in every Negro community. All of these
are things that would serve to lift the economic level of the Negro which would
in turn give him greater purchasing power. This increased purchasing power will
inevitably make for better housing, better health standards, and for better educ
ational standards.
Question: Young parents nowadays cater to every whim and wish of their children.
I was in a home the other day where a three-year-old child read the riot act to
his mother. The mother took it with a sheepish smile. This, I am told, is permi
ssiveness. It seems to me that what modern children need is a large dose of pare
ntal permissiveness applied to their backsides. Do you agree?
Answer: It is quite true that many modern parents go too far in allowing their c
hildren to express themselves with hardly a modicum of discipline. Many parents
justify this by arguing that the children must have freedom. But freedom can ver
y easily run wild if not tempered with discipline and responsibility. This almos
t lunatic fringe of modern child care has been responsible for most strange and fa
ntastic methods of child rearing in many American homes. The child is permitted
to almost terrorize the home for fear of having its individuality repressed. Som
ewhere along the way every child must be trained into the obligations of coopera
tive living. He must be made aware that he is a member of a group and that group
life implies duties and restraints. Social life is possible only if there exist
s a balance between liberty and discipline. The child must realize that there ar
e rules of the game which he did not make and that he cannot break with impunity
. In order to get all of these things over to the child it is often necessary to
subject the child to disciplinary measures.
Question: I made a mistake when I was young. I had a child out of wedlock. When
I got married, my husband constantly reminded me of it. So the marriage failed.
And now I am right back where I started. I am the black sheep of my family and o
f the small town in which I live. How long must I pay for one mistake? Should I
pick up and go to another town to live?
Answer: Your problem is one that must find its solution in the domains of psycho
logy and religion. There is the danger that you will develop a morbid sense of g
uilt as well as an extremely sensitive attitude toward your past mistake. This w
ould be tragic. You must somehow turn your vision toward the future rather than
the past. You should concentrate on the heights which you are determined to reac
h, not look back into the depths in which you once fell. With this wholesome att
itude you will be able to stand up amid all of the criticisms that persons in yo
ur town will direct toward you. In other words, you can so outlive your past mis
take that even the most ardent critic will develop a warm respect for you. You c

an still live in the same town and win the respect of the community. I would als
o suggest that you give your life to certain high and noble pursuits. In so doin
g you will be able to concentrate on such challenging and ennobling ideas that y
ou will not have the time for self pity.
Question: I have attended the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, the Church o
f Christ and the Church of God in Christ. I have also talked to members of the J
ehovah Witnesses. All of them say they are right, that their way is the only way
to salvation. They cant all be right because in many instances the doctrines are
contradictory. Is there a one and only way to God?
Answer: I would answer your question with an emphatic NO. No denomination can va
lidly claim that it is the one and only way to God. God is bigger than all of ou
r religious denominations. The boundless sweep of Gods revelation can never be li
mited to any particular church. It is true that most of the denominations have c
ertain doctrinal and ritualistic differences, but there is a deeper unity which
makes them all one. Although there need not be uniformity between the various re
ligious denominations, there should be unity. Actually, no major denominations w
ithin Protestantism claim to possess absolute truth. So l would suggest that you
join the church which can best serve your religious and spiritual needs, realiz
ing all the time that no church possesses absolute truth.
Question: I am in love with a white woman who lives in a southern state. Its law
s forbid us to marry. I feel guilty about my desire to break the law. I think ou
r love for each other is right and true. If it is, why does the law say otherwis
Answer: It is quite true that all southern states legally prohibit interracial m
arriages. In fact, several of the states outside of the South have laws forbiddi
ng marriage between different racial groups. These laws exist because of certain
misguided religious views as well as long entrenched social customs. Many peopl
e sincerely feel that the Bible prohibits interracial marriages. Others are oppo
sed to them because they have come up under a system in which the folkways and m
ores are firmly opposed to them. The religious convictions and social customs of
the South have become so crystallized against interracial marriages that it is
very difficult to get any rational thinking on the subject. Indeed, the whole qu
estion of intermarriage has developed many irrational fears within the white sou
th. It is a subject in which sheer emotionalism takes over and rationality is pu
shed entirely in the background. Of course, there is no justification for laws a
gainst interracial marriages either on religious or rational grounds. The Bible
neither condemns norcondones intermarriage. It simply does not deal with the que
stion. On purely rational grounds one comes to see that marriage is a mutual agr
eement between two individuals and not between two races. Therefore, there shoul
d be no laws against intermarriage.
PD. Ebony, March 1958, p. 92.
Question: My husband and I were members of the same church. A few weeks ago, in
a church meeting, I took sides with the minister. My husband got very angry. He
recently joined another church and now he will not let our daughter go to the ol
d church. He insists that I attend the church he joined. Is he right in making t
his decision?
Answer: It is always very unfortunate for anyone to leave a church because of so
me disagreement with the minister. Unless the situation is unalterably bad, you
should calmly and patiently seek to convince your husband that it would probably
be better for him to seek to become reconciled with your minister rather than i
nsist on you and your daughter joining the other church. Through such a reconcil
iation it will be possible for your husband to honorably come back to his old ch
urch. This is a very touchy problem, but if it is handled properly I believe it

can be worked out. If you can convince your husband that your roots are in your
church and that his roots are also there, he will probably come to see that it w
ill be better for him to return to the old church than for you to go to the new
church. You should also discuss this whole question with your minister and show
him the urgent need for your family to be together. Through such mutual intercha
nge I think the problem can be solved.
Question: I am a 17-year-old musician and I belong to the church. I play gospel
music and I play rock n roll. Is it a sin to play rock n roll music for a living?
Answer: The question of whether playing rock and roll for a living is sinful or
not sinful is really not the basic question confronting you. The real question i
s whether one can be consistent in playing gospel music and rock and roll music
simultaneous. It seems to me that one must decide to either play gospel music or
rock and roll. The two are totally incompatible. The profound sacred and spirit
ual meaning of the great music of the church must never be mixed with the transi
tory quality of rock and roll music. The former serves to lift mens souls to high
er levels of reality, and therefore to God; the latter so often plunges mens mind
s into degrading and immoral depths. Therefore, I would say that you would be gi
ving your life to a more noble purpose if you concentrated on the music of the c
hurch rather than rock and roll. Never seek to mix the two.
Question: Since Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, t
he church has almost always been on the side of the rich, the powerful, and the
prejudiced. Preachers and priests have ever been the defenders, the supporters o
f the status quo. In view of these facts, why do ministers maintain that Christi
anity coincides with the struggles of the disadvantaged peoples of the world?
Answer: Honesty impels me to admit that the church has often been on the side of
the rich, powerful, and prejudiced. The church has often been relegated to an i
nstitution which served to crystallize the patterns ofthe status quo. Even minis
ters of the gospel have often turned to the Bible to find some erroneous justifi
cation for the preservation of the old order. This, however, is not the whole ch
urch. The church at its best has always stood as the conscience of society. It h
as been willing to broaden horizons, challenge customs and even break mores. The
re has always been and always will be that section of the church that joins in t
he struggle of the disadvantaged and disinherited peoples of the world. Although
they are far too few there are still those ministers who recognize that the pow
er of the gospel can never be clothed in the garments of a particular class. Whe
never the church is true to its genuis it recognizes as Jesus did, that it must
preach the gospel to the poor and deliver those who are captives.
Question: I am in love with a young woman who is obviously unsuitable for me. On
the other hand, I know another girl who wants to marry. I think the latter girl
would be perfect for me, but I dont love her. We have the same background, the s
ame tastes and we enjoy the same things, Should I marry her? Isnt romantic love,
which is at best transitory, a slippery thing to bet your future on?
Answer: I would not say that romantic love is merely transitory. Romantic love,
at its best, is an enduring love which grows with the years. I do agree, however
, that it is quite risky to base a marriage purely on so-called romantic love wi
thout taking other basic factors into account. For it may be possible that what
we feel as real romantic love is at bottom a passing fantasy or a temporary infa
tuation with no real substance. Many marriages have broken up for this very reas
on. Persons marry on the basis of a temporary emotional feeling, and when the sl
ightest conflict arises the marriage breaks up because it is not planted on a so
lid foundation. I think it would be far better for you to at least pursue the re
lationship with the young lady who has the same background and similar interests
as you have. If you continue to associate with her it is altogether probable th
at you will grow to love her. At least with a similar background and similar int

erests, you have something basic and solid to build on. In the case of the first
young lady that you mentioned you may simply have a feeling that may pass away
with the wind.
Question: My wife has no respect for my profession as an entertainer and believe
s I should get a more secure job that would permit me to spend more time with th
e children. I cant make her understand that my work is rewarding and that my poss
ible success will provide greater security. Since the "job" problem is creating
a crisis in our home, what should I do?
Answer: If, as you say, your work is rewarding to you and has the possibility of
greater economic security for the future, it would be well for you to patiently
and calmly attempt to convince your wife that you should stick with this profes
sion. You must seek to get over to her that ones life work is much more meaningfu
l and creative when it is something that the person enjoys doing. I can see how
your wife would be desirous of your spending more time with the family and certa
inly you should seek to arrange your working schedule so that it will be possibl
e to devote more time to your home life. In spite of this, however, you must see
k to get your wife to see that it often takes a little time for people to get es
tablished in certain professions. Give her the example of the numerous persons w
ho are now at the top of their professions, but who took several years to get es
tablished and secure.
Question: I have a 16-year-old daughter by a previous marriage. My present husba
nd doesnt like my daughter and my daughter doesnt like him. He is always picking o
n her. It has gotten to a point where either my husband or my daughter must go.
It is impossible for the three of us to live together. Should I divorce my husba
Answer: I do not think a divorce is the answer to your problem. It would only cr
eate new and more complicated problems, especially with reference to your own pe
rsonal adjustment. A better approach to the problem would be to seek to bring ab
out a degree of understanding between your daughter and your husband. People fai
l to get along with each other because they fear each other. They fear each othe
r because they dont know each other. They dont know each other because they have n
ot properly communicated with each other. This is probably the case with your da
ughter and husband. They have probably never known each other nor properly commu
nicated with each other. If you can bring them together and urge them to honestl
y discuss their differences and confess their mistakes, wherever they have been
made, this, I believe, will go a long, long way toward restoring a broken relati
Question: I am a white man (so-called), who is interested in the Negros fight for
equality. I am a NAACP member, but it seems to me that the organization is an e
xclusive club: people can join but there is no forum for expressing individual o
pinions. I live in New York. Where can white people go to help, what can individ
uals do in this fight for freedom?
Answer: It is certainly commendable that you have such a passion for freedom and
human dignity, that you are in quest for an organization through which you can
best express your interest. You mentioned the NAACP as an organization which lac
ks the resources to serve as the proper channel through which your interest can
flow. I would suggest that you reconsider your attitude toward the NAACP; it see
ms to me that the NAACP always leaves the way open for individuals to express op
inions through the various branches. This organization has done more to achieve
the legal and constitutional rights of Negro citizens than any other organizatio
n to which I can point. I feel that continued support of this organization is on
e of the ways that people of goodwill can further extend the rights of Negro Ame
ricans. Since you are in New York, you may very easily familiarize yourself with
the resources, methods and techniques of the NAACP by consulting the national o

ffice. Of course there are numerous other organizations working for the rights o
f Negroes, and many of them are doing exceptionally good jobs. There are organiz
ations in the South, for instance, that are working on the local level to implem
ent the decisions that the NAACP has won through the courts. These organizations
are in dire need of financial and moral support. You may consider giving assist
ance to some of these organizations.
Question: My problem is my mother and my half brothers and sisters. My mother gi
ves them all her attention. She takes them out, buys them pretty clothes. She ne
ver notices me. Her other children are light-skinned. I am dark. What can I do t
o make her love me, too?
Answer: You can probably best deal with your problem by beginning with an analys
is of self. I know this sounds rather strange to you, since you have already con
cluded that your mother and half-brothers and sisters are responsible for the pr
oblem. But you must honestly ask yourself the question, whether the problem has
arisen because of an inferiority complex that you have developed as a result of
your complexion. You must be sure that you do not unconsciously develop a bitter
ness because of your color, and thereby drive persons away from you. Maintain a
wholesome attitude at all times and a radiant personality. These qualities, I am
convinced, will awaken within those around you a responding attitude of kindnes
Question: I am a single woman, in my forties. I have a small business, but I am
not pretty. My friends tell me they wish I could find a husband. So do I, but wh
ere is the man who is looking for anything else besides beauty? Dont good morals
and knowing how to make a home and an honest dollar count?
Answer: You desire to find a husband is certainly a normal and reasonable one, a
nd I hope our generation hasnt come to the point that men only look for external
beauty in a wife. A marriage that is only based on external beauty lacks the sol
id rock of permanence and stability. One must discover the meaning of soul beaut
y before he has really discovered the meaning of love. I quite agree with you th
at good morals, and knowing how to make a home and an honest dollar are the thin
gs that ultimately count in making a meaningful relationship. Whether or not you
will find the man who has the wisdom to appreciate these values over against th
e passing value of physical beauty, I am not prepared to say. But at least you c
an live by the assurance that you have cultivated in your life those great imper
ishable values that are ends within themselves.
Question: I am a housewife and the mother of two children. I have found out that
many Negroes have inferiority complexes, especially about their looks. It start
s when they are children, The stories they are told--Goldilocks, Black Sambo--an
d the pictures they see play down the Negro. Are there any childrens stories, f
ables or religious stories that contain Negro characters?
Answer: It is certainly true that many Negro children grow up with inferiority c
omplexes. This is basically true because they grow up in a system which forever
stares them in the faces saying, You are less than, "You are not equal to. Segregat
ion generates a feeling of inferiority in the segregated. This sense of inferior
ity comes into being as a result of segregation. This sense of inferiority is fu
rther generated, as you suggest, by the inferior roles played by Negroes in pict
ures that they see and the stories that they read. It must be admitted that Amer
ican society has done far too little in presenting the Negro in a realistic role
. The stereotype role in which he has been traditionally presented is distastefu
l to any well thinking Negro. Fortunately many things are happening to change th
is trend. More and more through television, movies and other public channels, Ne
groes are being presented in a realistic manner and their creative abilities are
increasingly coming to the forefront. This remains a real challenge for Negro a
rtists and entertainers as well as writers.

Question: My problem, I suppose, is a

ths. My husband says he loves me just
ed to a night out. The wife, he says,
ink a man should have a night out? If

common one. I have been married for 18 mon

as much as ever, but he think he is entitl
is not supposed to go out alone. Do you th
so, shouldnt a wife have a night out, too?

Answer: The question of having a night out is one that needs careful examination
. If it means simply having a night during the week that one can spend some time
with friends of his own sex and social group, then a night out is a privilege w
hich should come to husband and wife alike. There is a certain degree of individ
uality that all persons desire--a privilege of which marriage should not deprive
them. On the other hand, if a night out means participating in activities and a
ffairs that cannot be known by your mate, then it is something that neither husb
and nor wife should request. Actually, the idea of a night out is a meaningless
concept if ones intentions are pure. If one intends to do the right thing, the qu
estion of a night out need never arise, for it may be necessary to have two or t
hree nights out.
Question: About two years ago, I was going with a young lady who became pregnant
. I refused to marry her. As a result, I was directly responsible for a crime. I
t was not until a month later that I realized the awful thing I had done. I begg
ed her to forgive me, to come back, but she has not answered my letters. The thi
ng stays on my mind. What can I do? I have prayed for forgiveness.
Answer: You have made a mistake. This you admit. Your admitting this fact is ver
y wholesome, for it is the first step in the process of repentance and personali
ty integration. One can never rectify a mistake until he admits that a mistake h
as been made. Now that you have prayed for forgiveness and acknowledged your mis
take, you must turn your vision to the future. You must not become morbidly abso
rbed in a past mistake but you must seek to outlive it by creative living in the
future. Now that you have repented, dont concentrate on what you failed to do in
the past, but what you are determined to do in the future. This sense of penite
nce and this creative living will do more to cause the young lady to forgive you
than anything you can say in words.
Question: This question has bothered me for a long time. Why is it that if our m
en or women are fortunate enough to gain fame and fortune, they almost always ma
rry white?
Answer: First, let me say, I dont think it is true that the majority of Negroes o
f fame and fortune marry white persons. I could give a long list of Negroes who
have risen to the heights of fame, and yet who have married within their own rac
e. However, there is some truth in the statement that many persons of fame unite
in interracial marriage. One of the basic reasons for this is that Negroes of f
ame are brought into contact with white persons more than the average Negro. Thr
ough such contact a relationship often develops which eventually leads to marria
ge. Also, there is something about fame that causes people to minimize the super
ficialities of race or color. People are often drawn to fame by the sheer fascin
ation of its qualities, forgetting the fact that the possessor of the fame happe
ns to be a Negro. It must also be emphasized that a Negro man or woman cannot ma
rry a white person without the latters consent. In the final analysis, marriage i
s a mutual agreement between two individuals. It should be based on similar inte
rests, abiding faith and genuine love.
Question: Ive been separated from my wife for about nine years. My problem is, ho
w do I go about meeting nice women. I know lots of women, but they are drinking
people. I go to church, but all the women seem so distant. I am very unhappy bec
ause of my lack of companionship.
Answer: You seem to have a problem meeting people. This probably grows out of so

me personality trait on your part rather than any deficiency on the part of all
of the women in your community. You should do a thorough job of self-analysis an
d see if there is anything within your personality that causes you to withdraw f
rom people or causes them to withdraw from you. In either case, you can easily i
mprove the situation if you find the cause for it. It is possible that you are n
ot out going enough and that you are not active enough in church and community a
ffairs. I am sure that if you will become more active in such areas, you will be
able to meet companionable and likable persons whose interests will be in the s
ame area as yours.
Question: Please help me and my wife to settle our
erstanding is that a man and his wife are to be as
tist and she is a Seven-Day Adventist. She goes to
o church on Sunday. I dont think that is being as

religious differences. My und

one in everything, I am a Bap
church on Saturday and I go t
one and I dont think God is plea

Answer: There can be no gainsaying of the fact that it is always a wonderful thi
ng when husband and wife attend the same church. However, when such an arrangeme
nt does not exist, the family need not live in continual disharmony. The problem
may be solved by concentrating on the unity of your religious views rather than
accentuating your differences. There are certain basic points, such as the God
concept, the lordship of Christ and the brotherhood of man that all Christians s
hould be united on. Consequently, there can be unity where there is not uniformi
ty. If you and your wife will concentrate on these points of unity and seek to m
inimize the ritualistic and doctrinal differences, you will come to see that you
are not as far apart in your religious views as it appears to you on the surfac
Question: I have made many friends, most of them white. My closest Negro friends
tell me I am prejudiced against my own race.
Answer: The only way you can prove to other persons that you do not choose frien
ds on the basis of their color is through the sincerity of your motive in choosi
ng friends. If you choose friends on the basis of mutual interests and mutual co
mpanionship, then your motives are sincere. If you choose friends merely because
they are white in order to boast of the number of white friends you have, then
your motives are insincere.
Question: My husband and I are whites. We recently moved to California where my
husband teaches in a small community. He has a very emotional Negro boy in his c
lass. Fortunately, he likes and respects my husband. Things go smoothly when the
boy and my husband agree, but if he is corrected or disciplined, he reasons tha
t my husband doesnt like him because he is a Negro. How can we help him? He cant g
o on hating and fighting and being insecure.
Answer: It is quite true that no one can go through life hating, fighting and be
ing insecure. This type of response not only harms the object of hate, but it al
so does irreparable harm to the hater. It is both spiritually and psychologicall
y damaging. It is important, however, to understand the causal basis for such pe
rsonality responses. Few of us realize how far-reaching the impact of the traged
y of Little Rock has been upon not only the Negro schoolchildren, but upon white
children also. The toll that injustice, segregation, discrimination and violenc
e take on Negro schoolchildrens emotions is tragic indeed. Consciously and uncons
ciously, all types of reactions are being manifested and it is people of goodwil
l, like you and your husband, who will have to carry the cross of patience, love
and understanding. I would suggest that you get in touch with the boys parents,
see his home environment, get the thinking of his parents. It may be that over-e
mphasis of the racial problem is being discussed in his presence and he may be t
rying to cover a feeling of guilt or shame for not measuring up to what your hus
band expects of him, or even what he expects of himself. I am sure that you and

your husband can do a great deal to help this boy. We cannot afford to lose one
youth in this struggle for full citizenship in which we find ourselves.
Question: I am 15 years old and I live in a small North Carolina city. When I fi
nish high school should I stay here and be called names or go up North where I w
ill have greater opportunities?
Answer: Going North will not guarantee that you will not be called names. Name c
alling is not peculiar to the South. Everywhere you go, you will find those who
take keen delight in calling names. Some individuals must have the courage and m
oral strength to remain in their communities no matter how bad they are, and see
k to lift them to new levels of creative living. I would suggest that you apply
yourself diligently to your studies and think about what you would like to choos
e as your lifes work. Look around your immediate community for the best school to
prepare for this work. If there are no schools, consult your parents and school
advisers about schools in other areas.
Question: My husband is an alcoholic. He recently started making physical attack
s on me. I hate to break up our home, but I cant stand this brutality. Can I do a
nything to help him?
Answer: First, let me say that the person who becomes an alcoholic is victimized
with a real sickness. The Yale studies on alcohol reveal that the alcoholic has
a disease which is as serious as any other organic disease. Consequently, the a
lcoholic is in need of sympathy and understanding rather than scorn. Just as we
would not scorn the person with tuberculosis, we should not scorn the alcoholic;
rather we should seek to help him cure the disease. I would suggest that you ha
ve your husband talk with your clergyman and also contact Alcoholics Anonymous-a wonderful organization. In his sober moments, you may try to convince your hus
band of the injury that such a habit is bringing to his personality and to the w
hole family. Also seek to show him that he can never be helped unless he decides
to help himself. I am sure that the brutality that you are suffering is quite m
iserable, but if you stay with the situation a little longer, you might contribu
te to your husbands rediscovery of himself.
Question: Ever since my marriage last June, I have had in-law troubles. At first
, my husbands sister and her children were living with us. Now, his mother has mo
ved in and she has taken over the house. She buys the groceries, opens the mail
and pays all the bills (with his money). Whenever I complain, my husband blows u
p. What can I do? I feel like a child in my own home.
Answer: There is an expression that no home is big enough to have two women at i
ts head. Certainly many homes have broken up over this very familiar problem. It
is a very touchy problem, and it must be handled with the most judi- cious care
. I would suggest that you have a frank talk with your husband and your mother-i
n-law simultaneously. Explain to them that you want to assume the full responsib
ility of a wife, and it will be wise, as well as good psychology, to ask your mo
ther-in-law if she would be kind enough to teach you the things that she did for
her son that made him the man that you loved and married. A new bride can alway
s learn something, and it is a smart wife who will never place her husband in th
e position of having to choose between his wife and his mother.
Question: Is your church segregated? Do whites attend your service?
Answer: No. The Dexter Avenue Baptist Church is not a segregated church. It is o
pen to men and women of all nations and races. Hardly a Sunday passes that we do
not have white visitors. Most of them come from other sections of the country,
but occasionally we have white persons from the Montgomery community to worship
with us.

Question: You give wonderful advice. I hope that you will help me. I worry all t
he time. I worry about little things and big things and sometimes when there is
nothing to worry about at all I create something. How can I stop wmying so much?
Answer: Worry stems from several sources. Such things as a feeling of inadequacy
, repressed emotions, illusions projected into reality and subconscious fears ar
e all causal factors for continued worry. So your real problem is to discover th
e thing that is causing the worry. You probably cannot do this on your own. It w
ill require the skilled and technical know-how of a person trained in this area.
I would suggest that you talk with your physician and he can make definite reco
mmendations. Another source to which you can turn is religion. One of the things
that a positive and healthy religious faith gives an individual is a sense of i
nner equilibrium which removes all basic worries. Religion does not say an indiv
idual will never confront a problem, or that he will never worry about anything;
it simply says that if the individual is sufficiently committed to the way of r
eligion, he will have something within that will cause him to transcend every wo
rry situation with power and faith. With this combination of medical advice and
healthy religion, I am sure that you can solve your problem.
Question: I am a deacon in the church and my wife teaches Sunday school. We were
shocked recently when our youngest boy was arrested for taking part in a teen-a
ge gang war. He is only 14, but we found he has been smoking and drinking for th
e last year. He has every advantage, love, spending money and a lot of friends.
Where did we go wrong? What can we do to get him back on the right track?
Answer: I can well understand the deep shock that came to you and your wife afte
r the arrest of your son for taking part in a teen-age gang war. Whether you, as
parents, went wrong at some point and must take some of the responsibility for
this incident, I am not sure. I would have to know more about the situation. Cer
tainly, the environmental conditions outside of the home had something to do wit
h it. The whole problem of urban dislocation is one of the usual factors for muc
h of our modern juvenile delinquency. But your real concern now should be what y
our son needs at this moment, rather than what he has already done. He is in tro
uble, and he is going to need the combined love, patience and understanding of h
is parents. He needs to be assured that he is not lost, even though he did make
a mistake; that the past is behind him and a great bright future ahead. Give him
love and more love. Often youngsters are driven to gangs because they do not ge
t the proper sense of belonging and the proper recognition in the home. Be sure
that you are never so busy that you do not spend vital moments and hours with th
is son who needs more than anything else a real sense of belonging. This type of
genuine love, combined with strong moral teachings exemplified in your lives, w
ill do a great deal to change the course of your sons life.
Question: My husband is having an affair with a woman in our housing project. He
promised to stop, but he is still seeing her. We have children and I dont believ
e in divorce, but I cannot and will not share him. What must I do?
Answer: Your unwillingness to share your husband is perfectly natural and normal
. No person wants to share his or her mate with another. But your problem is a v
ery delicate one, and needs to be handled with wisdom and patience. First, I wou
ld suggest that you attempt to get your husband to go with you to talk with your
clergyman or a marriage counselor. I am sure that they could be helpful in solv
ing your problem. In the meantime, since the other person is so near you might s
tudy her and see what she does for your husband that you might not be doing. Do
you spend too much time with the children and the house and not pay attention to
him? Are you careful with your grooming? Do you nag? Do you make him feel impor
tant. . . like somebody? This process of introspection might help you to hit upo
n the things that are responsible for your husbands other af-fair. Certainly, I w
ould not suggest a divorce at this point. I strongly would urge you to exhaust e
very possible resource in your power and seek to rectify the situation before ma

king any drastic changes.

Question: Few Negroes in our town register to vote, although the lists are open
and there is little or no intimidation or violence. Why are so many Negroes indi
ffient about their basic right?
Answer: Indifference of Negroes concerning their basic rights is appalling indee
d. Some of this indifference is rooted in the injurious effects of segregation a
nd discrimination on the soul of the Negro. The tragedy of segregation is that i
t not only harms one physically, but it injures one spiritually. It scars the so
ul and distorts the personality. It gives the segregated a false sense of inferi
ority. Many Negroes are apathetic concerning their basic rights because they hav
e a sense of inferiority and a real lack of self-respect. Another source of the
apathy of the Negro is found in the feeling that freedom is something that will
be handed out on a silver platter. Many individuals fail to see that freedom is
never attained without suffering and sacrifice; so they complacently sit by the
wayside, waiting on the coming of the inevitable. Other individuals are apatheti
c because they sincerely feel that there is nothing that they can do to better t
he racial situation. They have come to the pessimistic conclusion that all of th
eir struggles are in vain. Such persons have become exhausted in the quest for f
reedom. Of course, all of these attitudes are unfounded and unfortunate. Negroes
must rise above a sense of inferiority and come to see that they can do somethi
ng about the problem through persistent agitation and hard work, combined with d
iscipline and dignity.
Question: I am a Negro, but I dont like Jews. What can I do to overcom this feeli
Answer: It is very unfortunate that you dislike Jews. This is a problem which yo
u need to solve immediately, because it is no different from the attitude that m
any whites have concerning the whole Negro race. In order to deal with this prob
lem, you must get at the roots of your dislike for the Jews. Most hate is rooted
in fear, suspicion, ignorance and pride. You must be sure that all of these fac
tors are removed from your personality where the Jews are concerned. The word pr
ejudice means literally to prejudge, that is, to pass judgment before you have a
ll of the facts. You have probably prejudged the Jewish community by an experien
ce you had with one or more Jews or by some half-truths and distorted ideas that
you have heard circulated concerning Jews. You can only remove this by knowing
the truth and realizing that no one shortcoming can characterize a whole race. I
would suggest that you seek real personal fellowship with Jews and you will dis
cover that some of the finest persons in our nation are members of the Jewish co
mmunity. Through this type of personal fellowship, you will come to know them an
d love them and thereby transcend the bounds of bigotry. Men hate each other bec
ause they fear each other; they fear each other because they dont know each other
; they dont know each other because they are so often separated from each other.
Question: I am 13 and I want to be an air stewardess when I grow up. Do you thin
k the air lines will ever hire Negroes? What training should I take in order to
prepare myself?
Answer: A few airlines are already employing Negro stewardesses. By the time you
are ready, it will not be a matter of race or color, but qualification, and tha
t is all that we ask in our battle for equality. Write to any airline and they w
ill be glad to tell you of their need. Your daily newspaper Peoples Column will als
o tell you. In the meantime, apply yourself diligently to your studies and keep
in good health.
Question: How can the crime wave among Negroes be reduced? Shouldnt the church ta
ke a stand on this problem?

Answer: There is both an external and an internal solution to this problem. Both
must work simultaneously if the problem is to be solved. The external solution
to the problem is to work passionately and unrelentingly to remove the condition
s which make crime possible. The Negro is not criminal by nature. Indeed crimina
lity is environmental, not racial. Poverty and ignorance breed crime whatever th
e racial group may be. So we must work to remove the system of segregation, disc
rimination and the existence of economic injustice if we are to solve the proble
m of crime in the Negro community. For these external factors are causally respo
nsible for crime. On the other hand, the Negro must work within the community to
solve the problem while the external cause factors are being removed. Community
agencies and the church must work untiringly to give Negroes moving into the bi
g industrial urban areas a sense of belonging and help them to adjust to urban l
iving. The church must extend its evangelistic program into all of the poverty-s
tricken and slum areas of the big cities, thereby touching the individuals who a
re more susceptible to criminal traits. By bringing them into the church and kee
ping them in touch with the great moral insights of religion, they will develop
more inner stability and become more responsible citizens.
Question: Do you belieue that Nuclear tests should be stopped ?
Answer: I definitely feel that there should be a cessation of Nuclear tests. Som
e of the best scientists tell us that it is hardly possible to produce a so-call
ed clean bomb. This means that hundreds of thousands of people can be affected fro
m delayed effects of local fall out radiation. It is also possible that these Nu
clear tests will do harm to succeeding generations as a result of genetic effect
s. Even if these assertions are not true, and scientists are capable of producin
g a clean bomb, it seems to me to be a wise course of action to suspend the test
s until scientists come to some unanimous conviction on this question. We should
not risk the lives of hundreds and thousands of individuals now living and mill
ions yet unborn, while scientists disagree over such a basic issue. There is als
o a greater reason why I feel that Nuclear tests be banned; that is, that the pu
rpose of the tests is to strengthen nations in military might and thereby prepar
e them for Nuclear war, if necessary. It cannot be disputed that full scale Nucl
ear war would be utterly catastrophic. Hundreds of millions of people would be k
illed outright by the blast and heat and by the ionizing radiation produced at t
he instant of the explosion. All of this leads me to say that the principal obje
ctive of all nations must be the total abolition of war, and a definite move tow
ard disarmament. War must be finally eliminated or the whole of mankind will be
plunged into the abyss of annihilation.
Question: Is Christianity, as a religion, more valid than the tribal religions p
racticed at one time by Africans?
Answer: I believe that God reveals Himself in all religions. Wherever we find tr
uth we find the revelation of God, and there is some element of truth in all rel
igions. This does not mean, however, that God reveals Himself equally in all rel
igions. Christianity is an expression of the highest revelation of God. It is th
e synthesis of the best in all religions. In this sense Christianity is more val
id than the tribal religions practiced by our African ancestors. This does not m
ean that these tribal religions are totally devoid of truth. It simply means tha
t Christianity, while flowing through the stream of history has incorporated the
truths of all other religions and brought them together into a meaningful and c
oherent system. Moreover, at the center of Christianity stands the Christ who is
now and ever shall be the highest revelation of God. He, more than any other pe
rson that has ever lived in history, reveals the true nature of God. Through his
life, death, and resurrection the power of eternity broke forth into time.
Question: My problem is that I dont have any confidence in myself. I cant hold a j
ob and in social situations l am always afraid that I will say or do the wrong t
hings. l am married and I have a daughter, who is two years old. Please help me.

People are always calling me stupid and dumb.

Answer: I would suggest four things to you as a guide to confident living: First
, know thyself. This means that you should analyze yourself and discover your po
tentialities as well as your limitations. Secondly, accept yourself. Never try t
o be anybody else. Realize that you have something unique to offer society howev
er humble it is. Third, trust thyself. In spite of the inevitable limitations yo
u may have, never develop an inferiority complex. Always develop an internal sen
se of security that no external situation can remove. Fourth, deny thyself. You
probably lose confidence in yourself because you are thinking too much about you
rself. Dont continually keep thinking what other people are thinking about you. N
ine times out of ten people are not thinking about you at all but about their ow
n problems. You have much to be thankful for, a wife and baby daughter. Think of
all the things you can do, little things to make them happy--Also how you can m
ake your fellow workers happy. Soon you will find that you spend so much time th
inking of others that you have little time to think of yourself. There is so muc
h more to think about than ourselves.
Question: Last Sunday my preacher did something that disturbed me. He mixed a lo
t of worldly things in his sermon. My question is this. Should God and the NAACP
be mixed in the pulpit?
Answer: I know of no way to separate God from the noble work that the NAACP is d
oing. Religion at its best is a two-way road. On the one hand it seeks to change
the soul of the individual so that he can be one with himself and with God. On
the other hand it seeks to change environmental conditions so that the soul can
have a chance once it is changed. Therefore any religion that professes to be co
ncerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about economic conditions th
at cripple them and the social conditions that damn them is a dry as dust religi
on in need of new blood. Therefore your minister by including so-called worldly t
hings in his sermon revealed that he is a man of great spiritual depth and deep c
ivic conscience. He revealed his awareness of the fact that the gospel of Jesus
Christ deals with the whole man--his body as well as his soul, the earthly as w
ell as the heavenly.
Question: I am a high school boy, 18 years old. My father drinks and does a lot
of things that make me ashamed. About a month ago, he got into some real trouble
and since then I havent been able to gain friendship with any nice boys and girl
s. What can I do to gain their friendship back? Should I run away to another tow
Answer: You have my deepest sympathy in the problem you present to me. I know ho
w sensitive a youth of eighteen can be of the public behaviour of his parents. H
owever, running away to another city will not solve your problem. It may remove
you from the external expression of the problem, but you will still confront the
internal reactions in your own life. I can realize how difficult it is to face
other young people who shun you because of your fathers condition. But these youn
g people are not the sincere friends that you need if they judge you by your fat
hers actions. I would suggest that you get some person whom your father has impli
cit confidence in to talk with him--maybe your minister. You must come to see th
at he is ill. Alcoholism is a disease which needs the most expert medical care.
A person whom he trusts can probably persuade him to seek this expert treatment.
He could probably be directed to Alcoholics Anonymous, a very fine organization
which helps people who want to be helped. I would further suggest that you your
self try talking with your father in one of his sober moments. Tell him how hurt
you are of his acts. It may well be that this frank expression will be the one
thing that will shock your father back to reality. Running away is not the answe
r because this may start you on a course of running as soon as a problem which s
eems insurmountable confronts you. Everywhere you go you will have problems, may
be not so potent as this one, but nevertheless problems. And if you solve this o

ne each succeeding one will be easier. You have youth, health and strength--and
I hope love--on your side. So you can afford to be patient with your father and
help him out of this abyss that he is too weak to rise from without outside help
Question: I have been in the South only once in my life. Now my husband, who is
in the air force, has been transferred to Georgia. Our little girl, who is 9, is
an honor student in a very good school in our community. She knows little about
prejudice and discrimination. My parents say I should not take her out of the i
ntegrated New York school and expose her to the bias of Georgia. Do you agree?
Answer: There is a great deal of truth in the advice that your parents have give
n you. It would certainly be a difficult transition for a child who has attended
integrated schools all her life to suddenly be shifted to a segregated school w
ith inadequate facilities and an inferior curriculum. Such a transition could ea
sily lead to inner conflicts and other psychological problems. However, your pro
blem may be solved if your husband lives on the base. It is a definite policy no
w, as a result of a Federal executive order, that there can be no segregation in
schools on army, naval and air force bases. If you can get your daughter in an
integrated school on the base, I dont think the other aspects of southern life wo
uld do her extreme harm since she would have little contact with segregation per
se. If living quarters cannot be arranged on the base it might be better for yo
u to sacrifice a few months and keep your daughter in the New York school.
Question: A horrible car accident wrecked my family a year ago. My five-year-old
son was killed and my husband has been in the hospital since last July. I am st
ill bothered by my arm, which was fractured. I worry and I am lonely and I have
fears. Please help me. I am 28.
Answer: You are probably lonely and in fear today because you have not succeeded
in getting the tragedy which befell your family out of your mind. Lonesomeness
and fearfulness almost always stem from an over absorption in self. When one thi
nks only about his problems and misfortunes he cannot help living in fear and wo
rry. First, you must rise above your misfortune enough to see that it is not so
bad that it couldnt be worse. Second, you must find proper avenues of escape from
self pity. Cultivate a love for great music. Give yourself to some purpose or c
ause beyond yourself. Develop a genuine love for your lifes work. Cultivate genui
ne and abiding friendships. And above all develop regular habits of religious wo
rship. Many people who have been burdened down by the problems of life have foun
d great resources of power in prayer and worship. These are just a few things th
at can help you transcend your worries and fears.
Question: My problem is men. I am 24 and a high school graduate. I
d a steady boy friend. I meet a young man and we are friends for a
n when sex comes up we just dont see eye to eye. What can I do to
ng man, one who will want to be with me because he knows that I am

have never ha
while and the
find a nice you
a nice girl?

Answer: One of the first things that you should do in an attempt to get at your
problem is to go through a process of self examination. Are you sure that you ha
ve a radiating personality, a pleasant disposition, and that feminine charm whic
h every man admires? These are questions which you must honestly ask yourself. I
f you fall short in any of these qualities you should seek to improve them. It m
ay be a lack of some of these qualities, rather than disagreement on the questio
n of sex which prevents you from having a steady boy friend. If a fellow ceases
dating you because you refuse to engage in the sexual act, you can be assured th
at he is not genuinely interested in you, and therefore would make an undesirabl
e husband. Every well thinking man admires a woman who has high moral stan- dard
s on the question of sex. Maintain your moral standards and improve your persona
lity traits--if such improvement is needed--and the right fellow will come along

Question: I am publicity director of a civic

em is that I find it hard to find words that
es at the same time. If I please the whites,
e Negroes, the whites get mad. What should I

organization in Tennessee. My probl

will satisfy white people and Negro
the Negroes get mad. If l please th

Answer: There is only one way to deal with this problem--tell the truth with sin
cerity and love. All people of goodwill are moved by truth when it is honestly a
nd sincerely told. Too many public figures spend time attempting to win the admi
ration of certain groups or individuals by smooth words and perfunctory back sla
ps. Often these methods lead to the opposite effect. People soon look beneath th
e surface and discover signs of insincerity. So your first concern must be to te
ll the truth without rancor or bitterness. Both whites and Negroes will respect
you for this. And remember, no matter what approach you use, you can never pleas
e all of the people.
Question: I am engaged to a wondeful young woman. She is 19 and I am 23. She was
raised as a Christian Scientist and I was raised as a Baptist. Our problem is r
eligion. If we cant decide which one of us will change his or her religion, shoul
d we get married?
Answer: Your problem is a serious one and should be carefully considered. Religi
ous differences can cause a lot of conflict in a marriage relationship, and if a
t all possible, should be reconciled before marriage takes place between two ind
ividuals. Many couples fail to recognize the possible conflict which religious d
ifferences can bring about in marriage, thus finding themselves in later years a
t the verge of a separation. This problem should be faced honestly by both of yo
u. Having a common religious faith would make for a more harmonious relationship
in marriage. If you cannot persuade your fiance to accept your religious faith,
and if you are not willing to accept her religious faith, both of you should be
willing to learn as much as possible about the others faith.
Question: What do you do about a relative in her second childhood? This relative
is 80 and the language she uses is awful. And she talks about everybody. Church
doesnt do her any good, because she comes right out of church and takes a drink
of whiskey. I know old folks have special problems, but this old woman is a mess
. How should we handle her?
Answer: If your relative does the things you mention she is going through more t
han a second childhood. It seems that she is giving expression to some deep imbe
dded habits which are problems of immorality rather than old age. Her real need
is that of regeneration. If she is still alert enough to talk about people, she
is certainly alert enough to be talked to. I would suggest that you turn this pr
oblem over to your minister, urging him to talk with her about this needed chang
e. It would be well to remind her how near she is to the end of her earthly life
, and how tragic it would be if she passed on without rectifying these habits. T
his realization might shock her into her better self.
Question: I have been a hardworking Christian woman for 28 years. Recently, I ma
de an off-hand comment in the presence of the pastors wife to the effect that p
eople who are leaving the church are leaving because they have never been saved.
Since then, the pastor has insulted me several times. What shall I do? Shall I
ignore him or should I leave the church?
Answer: I think it would be a mistake for you to leave your church as a result o
f the temporary misunderstanding between you and the pastor. It seems clear that
the pastors attitude toward you grew out of what he considered an unwarranted cr
iticism on your part. The statement which you made in the presence of his wife,
however well intended, gave the impression of being a sly attempt to undermine t
he effectiveness of his ministry. Since this misunderstanding has developed, it

is your Christian duty to seek to become reconciled with your minister. You must
go out of the way to clarify your position, and make it clear that you were not
seeking to minimize him. You must even be willing to go so far as to apologize
for what might have been an ill-timed statement. Remember, a true Christian is w
illing to go any length to restore brotherly relationships.
Question: All my life I have tried to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I re
cently met and fell in love with a boy who is just the opposite. He drinks heavi
ly, gambles and runs around with a wild crowd. Should I marry him? Do you think
he will change when we are married?
Answer: I think it is too risky for you to marry with the hopes that your boy fr
iend will change after the marriage takes place. If he has these unbecoming habi
ts now, there is no reason to feel that they will be miraculously changed after
marriage. If you do not see some definite changes before the marriage it would b
e both unwise and impractical to go into a venture that can lead only to ultimat
e destruction.
Question: I dont like my mother or father. They dont understand me and I dont under
stand them. I am a 17-year-old girl. The only person who cares about me is an ol
d friend, a married man. I would like for his wife to be my friend, too, but I t
hink she would object. What should I do? My life is a mess.
Answer: The best way to deal with your problem is to go back and seek to underst
and your parents. You may be assured that if one dislikes his mother and father,
he will find it difficult to like other persons. An integrated home makes for a
n integrated personality. You are old enough now to sit down and have a heart-to
-heart talk with your parents. You should be frank and honest with them. Only th
rough such an approach can you get to the real cause of the misunderstanding. It
might be necessary to call your minister in to guide and direct the discussion.
Being an impartial person, he could probably keep emotions from running too hig
h. It is imperative, however, that you come to a new understanding with your par
ents. This will mean more to your personal development than anything else at the
present time.
Question: I am a South American composer, a Negro. My wife is white and we have
three lovely children. I have been treated very well and I have travelled quite
extensively. An old dream of mine is to work in America. What problems will I fi
nd there? Will my wifes race complicate things?
Answer: An honest answer to your question impels me to admit that an interracial
marriage does present some problems in America. The degree and intensity of the
problem would vary with certain sections of the country. Although interracial m
arriages are legal in most sections of the United States, there are still custom
s and traditions which condemn such ties. Often these traditions and customs hav
e religious sanction. It must be stated, however, that many interracial couples,
after realistically facing these facts, have lived together very happily in the
United States. I am sure that as time goes on, growing urbanization and wider w
orld contacts will diminish the problem even more. So I would say that if you an
d your wife are deeply in love and emotionally secure, you can probably face all
of the problems that would emerge without doing injury to your family
Question: I was shocked by the recent attack on you. What are your current plans
? What can I do to help you and the work to which you have dedicated your life?
Answer: I am very happy to know of your deep concern over the unfortunate incide
nt that I recently experienced in New York City. Such expressions of genuine con
cern are of inestimable value in giving me the strength and courage to face the
ordeal of this trying period. My future plans include a few more weeks of conval
escing which my physicians strongly urge. After that, I plan to rejoin the ranks

of those who are working ceaselessly for the realization of the ideal of freedo
m and justice for all men. I do not have the slightest intention of turning back
at this point. There are several ways that you can help in this struggle--a str
uggle that may well determine the destiny of our nation. First, the struggle ahe
ad will entail tremendous financial responsibilities. This means that all of the
financial aid that you can possibly give to civil rights organizations will be
extremely helpful. Also, your moral support will be needed. And above all, you c
an help by taking a nonviolent, yet determined stand against segregation and dis
crimination wherever you find it in your local community.
Question: Reporters say you demonstrated unusual grace after the attack. How can
one reach the peace and inner certainty you seem to have? And what are your fee
lings about the repeated attacks on you and your family, despite your oft-procla
imed message of love and nonviolence?
Answer: If I demonstrated unusual calm during the recent attempt on my life, it
was certainly not due to any extraordinary powers that I possess. Rather, it was
due to the power of God working through me. Throughout this struggle for racial
justice I have constantly asked God to remove all bitterness from my heart and
to give me the strength and courage to face any disaster that came my way. This
constant prayer life and feeling of dependence on God have given me the feeling
that I have divine companionship in the struggle. I know no other way to explain
it. It is the fact that in the midst of external tension, God can give an inner
peace. As far as the repeated attacks on me and my family, I must say that here
again God gives one the strength to adjust to such acts of violence. None of th
ese attacks came as a total surprise to me, because I counted the cost early in
the struggle. To believe in nonviolence does not mean that violence will not be
inflicted upon you. The believer in nonviolence is the person who will willingly
allow himself to
be the victim of violence, but he will never inflict it upon another. He lives b
y the conviction that through his suffering and cross bearing, the social situat
ion may be redeemed.
Question: Some liberal whites blame Negro leaders for the present integration cr
isis. They say the Negro should stop filing law suits and give up some of his co
nstitutional rights in order to live at peace with his white neighbors. Do you a
Answer: The present integration crisis has not been brought about by Negro leade
rs. The crisis has been brought about by individuals who are using all types of
subversive methods to resist the law of the land. If this resistance did not exi
st, there would be no crisis in race relations. I do not agree that Negroes shou
ld stop filing law suits and give up some of their constitutional rights in orde
r to live at peace with their white neighbors. To do this would be purchasing pe
ace at too great a price. It would not bring true peace. It would mean a negativ
e, undesirable peace. It would also mean that the Negro allows himself to cooper
ate with evil. This would be both immoral and unchristian. It is not enough to c
ooperate with good; we must refuse to cooperate with evil.
Question: I am the butt of all my husbands jokes. He seems to receive pleasure
from degrading me an company. He always makes cracks about my family. Some of th
em are true, but they always hurt. What can I do?
Answer: I think there are two ways to approach this problem. First, you should s
it down with your husband and in a calm dispassionate manner have a heart to hea
rt talk with him concerning the displeasure and embarrassment that his public jo
kes are causing you. Maybe he is not aware of the damage growing out of such act
ions. You should also point out to him that he is not only hurting you, but in a
real sense he is hurting himself. He will begin to show up before people in a b
ad light. Secondly, you should examine yourself and ask the question of whether

there is anything in your personality that precipitates this type of action from
your husband. Sometimes individuals embarrass other individuals in public in an
attempt to pay them back for being humiliated in private. Ask yourself whether
you are doing anything, even unconsciously, to arouse a resentful attitude on th
e part of your husband. This type of thorough self-examination might well be the
solution to your problem.
Question: Are there any similarities between the recent bombings of Jewish Templ
es and the bombings of Negro churches in Montgomery? Is there a close connection
between racial and religious bigotry?
Answer: There is definitely a similarity between the bombings ofJewish Temples a
nd the bombings of Negro churches in Montgomery. They are similar in the sense t
hat both grow out of hate, bitterness, prejudice and misunderstanding. These bom
bings reveal to us that hate never limits itself to the object that it starts ou
t hating, but it ends up hating everything in its path. The tragedy of hate is t
hat it can never be limited to controllable boundaries. If a white person starts
out hating the Negro, he will end up hating members of other minority groups an
d even other white persons. Start out with racial hatred and you will end up wit
h religious bigotry. Hate, like wildfire, continues to spread and spread until i
t touches everything in its path.
Question: It is often said that you cant change deep-seated customs by passing la
ws. Is this true?
Answer: This is not entirely true. It is true that laws cannot change internal p
rejudiced attitudes, but they can control the external effects of bad attitudes.
While a law cannot make an employer have compassion for an employee, it can kee
p him from refusing to hire individuals because of the color of their skin. Laws
do not change attitudes, but at least they control behavior. We need laws to ch
ange the habits of men while we wait on religion and education to change their h
PD. Ebony, December 1958, p. 154.
1. Ballou to Hazel A. Henry, 14 July 1959. Plans for King to write an opinion co
lumn for Ebony beginning in early 1959 never materialized (Lerone Bennett, Jr. t
o King, 17 November 1958).