INK PRINT EDITION
VOICE OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
The National Federation of the Blind is not an organization speaking for the Blind--it is the blind speaking for themselves
N. F. B. Headquarters
2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, Calif.
THE BRAILLE MONITOR
Published monthly in Braille and distributed free to the blind by the American Brotherhood for the Blind, 257 South Spring Street, Los Angeles 12, California.
Ink-print edition produced and distributed by the National Federation of the Blind, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, California. Subscription rate--$3. 00 per year.
EDITOR: GEORGE CARD, 605 South Few Street, Madison, Wisconsin.
News items should be addressed to the Editor. Changes of address and subscriptions should be sent to the Berkeley headquarters of the National Federation of the Blind.
Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2010 with funding from National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
WAS IT REALLY PASSED UNANIMOUSLY, OR DID THE RAILROAD RUN THROUGH THE MIDDLE OF THE HOUSE?
WESTERN CONFERENCE OF TEACHERS OF ADULT BLIND TAKES STAND ON KENNEDY AND BARING BILLS
BLIND APPLAUD ACTION ON KENNEDY BILL BY WESTERN CONFERENCE OF TEACHERS OF ADULT BLIND
OREGON COMMISSION AND ADMINISTRATOR GO ON RECORD AS SUPPORTING KENNEDY-BARING BILLS
GEORGE CARD JOURNAL
FURTHER PROGRESS IN CIVIL SERVICE
NFB BULLETIN ON BLIND STUDY COMMISSION BILLS
ALABAMA'S DONATION TO THE BRAILLE MONITOR
WHY SHOULD A STATE ORGANIZATION OF THE BLIND BE A MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND? by Dr. Newel Perry
NFB PRELIMINARY CONVENTION BULLETIN
HERE AND THERE
VENERABLE LEADER OF THE BLIND PASSES FROM THE SCENE
The Braille Monitor and the American Brotherhood are happy to cooperate with the Joint Uniform Braille Committee in surveying the reaction among blind readers to certain proposed changes in grade two. For this purpose you will find included with your Braille Monitor a pamphlet of twelve pages prepared by the Joint Uniform Braille Committee indicating what the proposed changes are and illustrating their use. The Joint Uniform Braille Committee is anxious to have your reactions. A questionnaire and the address of the Uniform Braille Committee are to be found on page eleven of the enclosure.
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At its annual convention in Chicago on July 12 of this year the American Association of Workers for the Blind "unanimously" passed (or, at least, so Congress and the general public were told) a resolution opposing the Kennedy Bill to protect the right of the blind to organize. The unbelievable story of what really happened at that AAWB meeting is only now beginning to be generally known. It should give cause for reflection to blind persons and agency employees alike, for in the light of what it reveals about the Chicago meeting it is clear that the AAWB leaders are now willing not only to ride roughshod over the blind in order to accomplish their ends but over their own members as well. Apparently the organization no longer speaks for the average agency employee in this country or even for the average agency administrator but only for its small group of leaders who maintain their dominance in the same way that they passed their July 12 resolution.
The latest revelations came at a meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, early in October. The occasion was the annual convention of the Western Conference of Teachers of Adult Blind. A proposal to endorse the Kennedy and the Baring bills was under discussion. Several persons, including the heads of two State agencies doing work for the blind, said that they had attended the AAWB convention and that they had tried to speak against the AAWB resolution but that the chair would not recognize them. They went on to say that they had voted against the resolution but that their votes were not recorded and that the AAWB leadership was now publicly saying that the resolution had passed unanimously.
There can be no doubt that the leaders of the AAWB are, in fact, making such statements. Mr. M. Robert Barnett, executive director of the American Foundation for the Blind, says in the September issue of the New Outlook for the Blind, referring to the AAWB and NFB Conventions held this summer (page 326 inkprint edition): "It is perhaps the most startling fact of the two Conventions viewed together to report that they unanimously differed on official attitude about one issue-that is the issue which is embodied in the proposal known now as the Kennedy Bill to protect the right of the blind to self-expression through their own organization."
Even though fear of reprisals was expressed, the Western Conference of Teachers put itself on record as endorsing the Kennedy and Baring bills. This means that teachers of the adult blind in almost one-fourth of the States, Hawaii and Alaska have lined up with the blind and against the AAWB leadership on the right of the blind to organize. No doubt other agency employees will make their voices heard as the story of the tactics used it Chicago spreads.
Apparently this is what happened. It was the last day of the AAWB convention. The resolutions committee brought in a resolution opposing the Kennedy Bill to protect the right of the blind to organize. This resolution was presented as a part of a package containing four or five other resolutions, thanking the hotel and similar courtesy matters. A request was made that the resolution be considered separately, but this was denied. One either had to vote for all, or against all.
This was July 12, and the Kennedy bill had only been introduced on June 27. Most of the delegates had never read it. Many had never heard of it. The Kennedy bill contains only two hundred and two words. Yet, the Kennedy bill was not read to the delegates before they voted on the resolution putting the AAWB on record as opposing it.
Only one person was allowed to speak against the resolution, and was given only three minutes. Further the chair permitted him to be booed and heckled as he talked. When the votes were counted the resolution had passed "unanimously."
One would not wish to be facetious about a situation which contains so many grave implications for the entire blind population. The AAWB leaders, however, have almost made themselves ridiculous in their attempts to cling to a dying prestige. The matter has almost come to have ludicrous overtones. After the exposure of the tactics used at Chicago, let us hear no more from these gentlemen about "professional processes" and "sound social thinking," about "ethical standards," and working for "all of the blind " Railroading is still an industry, not a profession; and Chicago remains the railroad center of the world. To quote the words of the popular song, "The railroad runs through the middle of the house since the company bought the land" (and, we might add, "the workers, too").
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Blind people all over the nation will be interested in a resolution passed on October 9 of this year by the Western Conference of Teachers of Adult Blind at its annual convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. This resolution put the Western Conference squarely on record as endorsing the Kennedy and the Baring bills to protect the right of the blind to organize. Its introduction touched off a lengthy floor fight, in which, strangely enough, the merits of the resolution were not at issue.
Almost all of the teachers agreed that the Kennedy and Baring bills were needed and should be supported, but a sizeable number expressed themselves as being afraid to have the Western Conference take an official stand. They argued that some of the agencies with employees present might take reprisals against those employees in such an event and that the personal security of conference members must be the first consideration. It was pointed out by these persons that many of the agencies represented had to depend for financial and technical assistance upon the American Foundation for the Blind, which was on record as strongly opposing the Kennedy and Baring bills, and that the leaders of the American Association of Workers for the Blind, also on record as opposing the bills, could have influence in many quarters.
At this point one of the proponents of the motion took the floor and said: "I, too, am employed by an agency doing work for the blind, but I did not give up all of my rights of citizenship when I went to work for the State. The fear expressed here today and the talk of reprisals are the most overwhelming arguments I can think of in favor of the passage of this resolution. We simply must pass it. We must do so because it is right, and because it is in our own best interest as teachers that the blind should be free and independent. Let us use the secret ballot in determining this matter, and then those who are afraid can go home to their agencies and say they voted against the resolution."
There was a great deal more discussion, but when the votes were counted (the secret ballot incidentally, was used) the resolution had passed by a substantial majority. It reads as follows:
WHEREAS the Western Conference of Teachers of Adult Blind is an organization of home teachers, social workers, and other persons concerned with the orientation and instruction of the adult blind of the eleven western States, Hawaii and Alaska and
WHEREAS this conference is dedicated to the proposition that the blind of this nation are first class citizens with all the rights and privileges enjoyed by other American citizens, and that the blind are capable of exercising these rights and privileges and of speaking for themselves through their own representative organizations, and
WHEREAS it is in the best American tradition for persons with similar interests on common problems to organize themselves and work together for their own welfare and advancement, and
WHEREAS certain individuals employed by agencies doing work for the blind have upon occasion used the power inherent in their official positions to curtail the rights of free speech, free association, and self-expression of blind persons dependent upon the services of their agencies by attempting to prevent blind persons from joining and participating in representative organizations of the blind, and
WHEREAS Senator John Kennedy of Massachusetts has recently introduced in the United States Senate S. 2411 entitled "A Bill to Protect the Rights of Blind Persons to Self-Expression Through Certain Organizations," And Congressman Walter Baring of Nevada has recently introduced the same bill in the House of Representatives as H.R. 8609;
NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Western Conference of Teachers of Adult Blind in annual convention assembled this 9th day of October, 1957, in the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, that the following statement of policy is officially adopted by this conference, and that copies of this resolution be sent to Senator Kennedy, Congressman Baring, and the members of the Congressional Committees to which these bills have been referred.
It is desirable for agencies doing work for the blind and organizations of the blind to consult and work together to promote the general welfare of the blind. We endorse S. 2411 and H.R. 8609, and we congratulate Senator Kennedy and Congressman Baring upon their introduction.
Another resolution passed at this meeting will also be of general interest. It commended the Nevada Federation of the Blind for its work in helping to establish Nevada's new home teaching program.
These resolutions were passed at the Wednesday morning business session. The conference sessions covered a three-day period, from October 7 through October 9. The session on Monday featured addresses by Mr. George Magers, newly appointed head of Nevada's Bureau of Rehabilitation for the Blind; Mr. Ed Sorrells, staff member of the Braille Institute of America in Los Angeles; and Mr, Kenneth Jernigan, NFB Board Member and employee of the Oakland Orientation Center for the Adult Blind.
The Tuesday session featured craft exhibits and a special luncheon, at which Mr. Alex Handel of the American Foundation for the Blind spoke. The banquet was held on Tuesday evening, and the principal speaker was Mr, K, O. Knudson, member of the Southern Chapter of the Nevada Federation of the Blind and presently the Grand Master of the Masons for Nevada. Wednesday's session was taken up entirely with the business meeting and with a trip to Boulder Dam.
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The courageous action of the Western Conference of Teachers of Adult Blind in going on record in support of the Kennedy-Baring Bills has received ringing response from organizations of the blind. On October 12 the California Council of the Blind, the California affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind, passed the following resolution:
WHEREAS the Western Conference of Teachers of the Adult Blind-which is an organization of home teachers, social workers, and other persons engaged in the instruction and orientation of adult blind persons in the eleven Western States, Hawaii and Alaska-discussed at its annual convention in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 9, 1957 the bill entitled "A Bill to Protect the Right of Blind Persons to Self-Expression Through Certain Organizations," recently introduced in the United States Senate by Senator John Kennedy of Massachusetts as Senate Bill 2411 and in the House of Representatives by Congressman Walter Baring of Nevada as HR 8609, and
WHEREAS during the discussion some of the teachers present said that they personally favored the passage of Senate Bill 2411 and H.R. 8609 but that they felt the Western Conference should not go on record as endorsing these bills because some of the agencies with employees present at the meeting might take reprisal against those employees in the event of such an endorsement, and
WHEREAS it was also brought out during the discussion that the American Foundation for the Blind, which is on record as being opposed to Senate Bill 2411 and H.R. 8609 had given financial help to the Western Conference in the past and was in a position to give financial help and technical assistance to individual agencies, or to withhold such help; and
WHEREAS fear was expressed by some persons present that the American Foundation for the Blind might take the action of the Western Conference into account in considering future requests for assistance if the conference should vote to endorse S. 2411 and H.R. 8609, and
WHEREAS certain persons present, including the heads of two State agencies doing work for the blind, stated that they were present at the convention of the American Association of Workers for the Blind in Chicago on July 12 of this year when that organization passed its resolution opposing the bills guaranteeing the right of the blind to organize, and that they had tried to get the floor to speak in opposition to the AAWB resolution but that they were denied the right to speak; and further that they had voted against the AAWB resolution but that their votes were not recorded and that the leaders of the American Association of Workers for the Blind were now officially stating that the vote in favor of the resolution opposing the right of the blind to organize was unanimous, and
WHEREAS despite this discussion and the fears expressed, the Western Conference of Teachers of Adult Blind passed a resolution endorsing the Kennedy and the Baring bills and voted to send copies of their resolution of endorsement to Senator Kennedy, to Congressman Baring, and to others:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the California Council of the Blind meeting in semi-annual convention in Fresno, California this 12th day of October, 1957 that congratulations are extended to the Western Conference of Teachers for their forthright stand and their courageous action. We deplore the fact that the American Association of Workers for the Blind, which ostensibly represents the views of its rank and file members as well as those of its leaders, should have taken the action which it did at its July meeting, and we express our appreciation to these teachers of the eleven Western States, Hawaii, and Alaska for making their views known in spite of the fears expresed by some that reprisals might be taken. The very fact that such a discussion occurred and that such fears were expressed is an overwhelming argument in favor of the bill. When rank and file workers in any field of endeavor cannot feel free to express themselves through official actions of their own organizations, the situation is serious indeed
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be sent to Mr. Wilbur Radcliff, president, Western Conference of Teachers of the Adult Blind 218 Palm, Compton, California; to the president of the National Federation of the Blind; to the president of American Associations of Workers for the Blind; to Senator John Kennedy; to Congressman Walter Baring; and to the members of the Congressional Committees to which S. 2411 and H.R. 8609 have been, or may be, referred.
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Last month's issue of Tlie Braille Monitor carried a long list of statements by administrators of State programs for the blind showing the benefits received by them in administering blind programs from their cooperative relations with the organized blind in their States. These statements exposed the basic fallacies contained in the AAWB resolution on the Kennedy bill adopted in Chicago. To these statements must now be added a resolution adopted by the Oregon Commission for the Blind and a letter sent by the Commission's administrator to Oregon's Congresswoman Green. The resolution and the letter place the Commission and the Administrator squarely on record as supporting the Kennedy-Baring bills and as seeking equal representation for the organized blind in the blind study commission proposed to be established by a number of bills now before Congress.
The resolution was adopted by the Oregon Commission for the Blind on August 28, 1957 and reads as follows:
At a regular meeting of the Oregon Commission for the Blind, August 28, 1957 at the Ella Munro Burdin Memorial Center for the Blind, 535 S.E. 12 Avenue, Portland 14, the following motion by Stan R. Pier, was passed:
A-That the Commission express its agreement with the two principles involved in H.R. 8609 and S. 2411, namely:
1 -Encouraging State agencies to consult with authorized representatives of the organized blind.
2-Protection of the right of the blind to freedom of expression through organizations of the blind.
B-That we endorse in principle the intent and purpose of H.R. 1955 and H.R. 8427, provided that these bills be revised to provide for a balance of contending interests in the area of work for the blind by granting equal representation to the Study Commission of
a-organizations of the blind
c-organizations composed of professional workers for the blind.
Note: Motion carried unanimously.
dministrator Stocker's letter to Congresswoman Green is so well expressed and so well reasoned that it deserves quotation in full:
State of Oregon, Commission for the Blind, 535 S.E. 12th Avenue, Portland 14, Oregon, September 3, 1957, to The Honorable Edith Green, Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives, Congress of the United States, Washington 25, D.C.
Dear Mrs. Green:
As per your request of August 7, I have asked the Commission for the Blind to consider House Bills 1955, 8427, and 8609 and indicate their opinion regarding same. These Bills were discussed at some length during the last regular Commission meeting held on August 28 and the Commission passed the following motion:
"That we endorse in principle the intent and purpose of H.R. 1955 and H.R. 8427, provided that these bills be revised to provide for a balance of contending interests in the area of work for the blind by granting equal representation on the Study Commission of (a) the public, (b) organizations of the blind themselves, (c) organizations composed of professional workers for the blind."
During the discussion several of the Commission members indicated some considerable concern that it has appeared necessary to introduce into Congress a Bill which would provide American citizens with the right to organize themselves into groups since such a right is obviously guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States but in spite of this existing right the Commission still gave its full support to H.R. 8609. I am sure you will agree that the introduction of this Bill in itself points up a need for giving rather serious and critical consideration to the activities of various officials of agencies who purport to be serving the blind for if the right of blind people to organize and to use the weight of their organization in an effort to effect a better program for the blind has been challenged by any of these officials then something must surely be done to correct such a travesty against the rights of blind people.
It is my personal opinion that some officials in agencies for the blind have put forth considerable effort to negate the influence of organizations of blind people and to abort the efforts of these organizations of the blind to make their opinions and influence effective in the development of the programs of these agencies and it is my further opinion that such activities on the part of these officials merits severe criticism and some measures to prevent their recurrence. I realize that there will be many times when persons in administrative capacities in agencies for the blind will encounter difficulty in obtaining a meeting of the minds with some of the blind organizations but I am quite sure such difficulties have also been encountered by management in dealing with labor unions. However, the thought has never entered the minds of most Americans that the influences of labor unions in affecting management decisions must be restricted. Certainly no one has ever challenged the right of laboring people to organize themselves into unions in groups which can speak for all of its membership.
During the last thirteen years it has been my privilege to serve in various administrative capacities with the Oregon Commission for the Blind and while serving in these positions I have had the pleasure of working with several different organizations of blind people. I assure you that we have not always seen eye to eye on various matters but we have always been able to discuss basic principles and purposes of the agency in such a manner as to arrive at a working solution which would permit the program to develop and which provided the greatest possible opportunity for the blind people to incorporate their ideas into the administration of the program. I am confident these blind organizations have contributed immeasurably to the benefit of the blind people of Oregon as a whole and have been of invaluable assistance to me in planning and administering our program of services for the State's blind residents. I can see no reason why such a scheme can not work effectively in other States and on a national level and I would, therefore, like to add my official approbation of H.R. 8609. I trust this is the information which you sought in your letter of August 7 and I assure you that all of us are deeply appreciative of your thoughtfulness in asking our opinion on these Bills. Should you desire to discuss the matter further or have any additional information, I hope you will not hesitate to request same.
I thought you might be interested in the enclosed Resolution which was recently passed by the National Federation of the Blind, I am quite sure you will find the arguments put forth by this organization sound and feasible. In the event you might wish further clarification of the opinions and feelings of this organization, I would suggest you contact their President, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, National Federation of the Blind, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, California, whom I have always found to be very logical and clear in his analysis of matters of this nature.
Thanks again and best wishes for continued success in your diligent service to the State of Oregon.
COMMISSION FOR THE BLIND
/s/ Clifford A. Stocker, Administrator
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October 13, 1957
We returned here today after a twenty-seven-day trip through sixteen States, during which we attended three State conventions and spent considerable time organizing in Virginia. Darlene and I were accompanied this time by Mr. Paul Kirton, newest member of the NFB staff, who has been assigned to my office for the next few months so that he can learn organizing and fundraising techniques. He is proving an apt pupil and was of real help in alternating personal calls on individuals during the twelve to fourteen-hour days we put in organizing. He also took over the night shift at the three conventions, which permitted the old folks to get some sleep.
We spent the first night as guests at the home of Clyde and Lucile Ross, in Akron, Ohio and then made brief visits with the Jamestown, Buffalo, Rochester, and Albany chapters in New York State, on our way to Worcester, Massachusetts, where I was the banquet speaker at the annual convention of our affiliate in the Bay State. It was a little saddening to witness the retirement of Newton Ottone from the State presidency because he has done such a tremendous job during his term of office. His successor, however, is a vigorous young blind attorney, Mr. John Nagle of Springfield, who will undoubtedly prove a fine leader. NFB visitors were present from New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, as well as from Wisconsin and Texas.
We left Worcester the afternoon of Sunday, September 22, and spent the night as guests in the home of Mr. George Greene, at Roxbury, Massachusetts. Mr. Greene, who is totally blind, has been a member of the Massachusetts Legislature for many years and has sponsored nearly all of the legislation improving the situation of the blind of his State. He has always worked closely with the NFB affiliate and there may be something very interesting to report in a few months as a result of our conference with him.
On Monday we drove to Portland and I spoke to the Board of Directors of the existing organization of the blind, the Maine Fraternal Association, which has a statewide membership and both men and women members. Its president is a young ministerial student at Bowdoin College. He requested NFB tapes and affiliation is being considered seriously.
Our next stop was in Media, Pennsylvania for a conference with Bill Taylor, which lasted most of an afternoon, and we spent the evening of that day in Wilmington, Delaware at the home of the president of the existing organization of the blind in that State. He and his wife, both blind, are top-flight people and expressed a good deal of interest in attending our Boston convention next year. Before leaving Wilmington the following day, I paid my respects to Dr. Francis Cummings, head of the Delaware Commission for the Blind and a former president of the AAWB-also Chairman of its Executive Committee in recent years. This chairmanship is now held by Mr. George Keene, of the Brooklyn Industrial Home for the Blind. When I remonstrated with Dr. Cummings for his part in the agency opposition to the Kennedy Bill he told me he had not been present when the vote was taken in Chicago on the AAWB resolution and that he had gone to Senator Kennedy's office as part of the opposing agency deputation because "I didn't want the Senator to think such a bill was needed in my State."
I brought up the subject of the Right to Organize Bill with every agency man or woman I encountered on this whole trip and not a single one attempted seriously to justify the AAWB resolution.
Friday, September 27, we reached Charlottesville, Virginia where the distinguished NFB Board member, Dr. Munford Boyd, teaches law at the State university. We spent a most pleasant and productive evening with Dr. Boyd and his charming wife. He gave me a number of names of key blind people in the State.
On Saturday, September 28, we began calling on blind individuals in Richmond, Virginia. Virginia and Mississippi are now the only two States where the blind have never had an independent organization of their own. Our work was interrupted the following day by a flying trip to Washington for a conference with staff members. We resumed interviews in Richmond on Monday and held our organization meeting there Thursday evening. Prior to that meeting I had also called on Vernon Hull, Rehabilitation Counselor for Southern Virginia, (and a member of the AAWB Board of Directors), on Dr. Douglas MacFarland, new head of the Virginia Commission for the Visually Handicapped, and on Col. L. L. Watts, former Director of the Commission and still active in the Virginia Association of Workers for the Blind. Both Mr. Hull and Dr. MacFarland appear to have liberal and enlightened views, very much in accord with basic NFB philosophy. Col. Watts came to our organization meeting and told those present that his Workers Association was already doing everything in Virginia that I claimed NFB affiliates were doing in other States-therefore he could see no need of duplication. Apparently very few were impressed by this statement since only one or two left with Col. Watts when he departed. Before he left, however, one of the blind persons present asked him whether he would hold it against anyone who became a member of the proposed organization. His reply: "No. This is a free country. Join anything you want to. I'm a chronic joiner myself." A chapter was then formally organized, with Miss Dorothy Walcutt as temporary president and Lydia Stuples as temporary secretary-treasurer. An Organization Committee was set up, under the chairmanship of Rev. Mason Armistead. I had had a recurrence of the ear trouble which badly marred my banquet speech at Worcester and had telephoned John Taylor to come down from Washington. John came to my rescue and made a splendid speech.
On Friday, October 4, we drove the short distance to Raleigh, where we attended the third annual convention of the North Carolina Federation of the Blind. John rode down with us and Dr. tenBroek joined us the following day. Also Tim Seward, our great ally among the Lions, who is also Administrative Assistant to Congressman Baring of Nevada, who introduced H.R. 8609, companion bill to S. 2411. Both these last two spoke at the convention banquet. Dr. tenBroek's address was a terrific, fighting speech. He had traveled all of the previous night without sleep, and was near exhaustion, but called on his reserve strength and made it. When he finished, a former blind minister leaped to his feet and shouted that this was the greatest speech he had heard in his whole lifetime and that he only wished ten million people could have heard it. The next speaker, Mr. Andrew Smith, president of the North Carolina Labor Council, began his remarks with the following: "If that man, (Dr. tenBroek), with his eloquent voice and his brilliant mind, had lived in the days of the American Revolution, we would never have heard of Patrick Henry."
At the business meeting on Sunday, Marie Boring was re-elected State president of the NCFB for another two-year term and Asheville was selected as the 1958 convention site. The delegates also voted to permit each chapter to decide for itself whether or not to accept members without reference to race. Blind Negroes had previously been made eligible to become members-at-large.
Among those present was a delegation from South Carolina, headed by Mr. Donald Capps of Columbia, president of our South Carolina affiliate.
On Sunday afternoon we drove to Norfolk, Virginia, listening to the fifth game of the World Series en route. We got started that same evening and the following four days were busy ones. With each call we became more absolutely certain that we were going to come up with a wonderful chapter here. The organization meeting on Thursday evening, October 10, exceeded our fondest hopes. I have had good reason to be very proud of many of the chapters I have had the privilege of starting but I have never before met such a group as this one in Norfolk. This time my pesky ear held out long enough and we had a fine question period after I finished speaking. Mr. Jake Jacobs, a blind attorney from Portsmouth, now second vice president of the AAWB, was present and said about the same things as had Col. Watts at Richmond, but made even less impression. When he left, the organization process was speedily concluded. Mr. Stuart Bowden, the first blind man to secure a teaching job in the State of Virginia, became temporary president. The temporary secretary-treasurer is Mr. James Martin, who lost his sight only three years ago but who has continued on in his old job in the advertising department of one of the leading papers of the State. Another charter member is Mr. Pat Knowles, first blind man in Virginia to hold an electrician's license, and who operates an electrical appliance store in Crittendon, Virginia. There are others of the same high calibre.
Meanwhile John Taylor is busily organizing chapters in Alexandria and Arlington, which are just across the Potomac from Washington. A conference of delegates from all Virginia chapters will be held shortly and it is expected that a constitution will be approved at that time and an application sent in for NFB affiliation.
Early Friday morning we started westward, headed for Wheeling, West Virginia, to see Chris Cerone. The distance was about four hundred sixty-four miles, the last half over treacherous, twisting mountain roads. We had to negotiate the last one hundred fifty miles after dark and we also forgot Wheeling was still on daylight time. It was midnight when we finally pulled in but Chris was still waiting and we had a fine visit.
We had about the same distance to cover the next day to reach Champaign, Illinois where the Illinois convention was being held. This time, however, there were no mountains and we arrived in time for the banquet. Delegates from nineteen of the twenty-three IFB chapters were present and enthusiasm ran high. We had a chance to renew many old and precious friendships here and Paul again took over the night shift when Darlene and I caved in. When we left Sunday noon the election had not yet been held but there seemed no doubt but that Bob O'Shaughnesay, the dynamic young president, would be re-elected. We reached Madison at seven Sunday evening.
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Another phase of the Federation's Civil Service story began in October of 1954 when Nyal D. McConoughey, an Army-Air Force civilian employee in charge of a printing reproduction shop at the, Tachikawa Airbase in Japan, became blind. After returning to this country and exhausting all medical possibilities for regaining sight, he contacted Dr. Jacobus TenBroek, President of the National Federation, to get help in finding employment. Dr. tenBroek suggested that he try to get reinstated in his former job. At first McConoughey was dubious. The printing reproduction shop at Tachikawa was a place where addressograph plates were made, records prepared, and cataloging and mimeographing done. He had been in charge of the entire unit, with two subordinate supervisors and a rather extensive clerical staff. It was hard for him to believe that he could continue to perform his regular duties efficiently.
By January 16, 1956 however, he could write to Dr. tenBroek: "I believe that, in view of my experience, I could do it with the help of Braille methods and a newly gained ability to type. I think it is significant that my responsibility for supervision is largely that of planning and executing work coordination for a multiple service unit. I can say, without qualification, that I am thoroughly familiar with the work and further that matters demanding physical sight have always been delegated to subordinate supervisors and clerks."
McConoughey and Federation representatives talked with the highest official in Washington in charge of civilian personnel appointments for the Army-Air Force. This official became convinced that McConoughey could do the work and should be reinstated, but those in charge at Tachikawa were adamant in their opposition. Since the military is in charge of civilian personnel at overseas bases, the Washington official could not order the reinstatement, but he continued to negotiate. Finally, the people at Tachikawa hit upon the device of writing into the job description of McConoughey's position that the supervisor must be "personally responsible for inspecting the final products of the shop." This, of course, was another way of saying that the supervisor must be able to read print, and with his own eyes.
All of this time McConoughey's wife and children were waiting for him in Japan, and it began to be financially more imperative that he get a job than that the principles of reinstatement be fought out to the end. Never before had any blind person been given civilian Federal employment overseas, but an agreement was reached that McConoughey would be given the first possible job at Tachikawa. On May 27, 1957 he was appointed administrative assistant to the military officer in charge of all billeting arrangements on the entire air base. He is now on the job and performing successfully.
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In the session of Congress recently ended, two distinct bills were introduced setting up a study commission to make overall studies of work for the blind and to make recommendations to Congress for the improvement of such work.
The Bills. One of these bills S. 2385, was introduced into the Senate by H. Alexander Smith of New Jersey. Its companion measure H.R. 8427, was introduced into the House by Congressman Wainwright of New York. This bill was prepared by the Federal Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and has the support of Marion Folsom, Secretary of the Department of HEW. It provides for a twenty-one-member commission to be appointed by the President "... with a view to securing a broad representation on the Commission of leaders in medicine, education, social work, psychology, rehabilitation, and related professions, representatives of public and voluntary agencies providing services to blind persons (including those which are not concerned exclusively with the blind) and representatives of industry, labor, and the general public.... Not less than three of the members shall be persons who are themselves blind." It should be noted that while this bill specifies that three of the members shall be blind, it does not say that they should be representatives of the organized blind and it is almost a certainty they would not be. Even if they were, the Commission is so rigged and the procedure which is apparently contemplated would be so circumscribed as to give them little effective voice in its deliberations. Identical bills to S. 2385 and H.R. 8427 have been introduced into the House by Mr. Elliott (H.R. 9055) and Mr. Fulton (H.R. 9484) from Alabama and Pennsylvania respectively.
The Matthews bill (H.R. 1955) is an American Foundation-inspired measure. It provides for a 9-man Commission consisting of the following:
(1) One individual from the Executive branch of the Federal Government;
(2) One individual from the Senate of the United States;
(3) One individual from the House of Representatives of the United States;
(4) One individual from among officers and employees of State governments;
(5) One individual from a national association of professional workers with the blind;
(6) One individaul from a national organization of the blind;
(7) One individual from a national research organization for the blind;
(8) One individual from the field of education of the blind; and
(9) One individual from the public at large.
It should be noted that one of the seats on the Commission is to be filled by a representative of the organized blind. Though to a lesser degree than the Administration proposal, the Matthews bill seems to be geared for domination by the agencies to be investigated. Like the Administration proposal, it also lacks safeguards and guarantees for a full and fair hearing for all points of view.
The Federation's Position. See attached Resolution 57-02.
The Federation does not endorse either of these bills. We do not oppose the idea of a Study Commission and feel that with the proper composition and procedure it could result in a great deal of good-in a healthy airing of actual conditions and constructive recommendations. We, however, intend to urge substantial changes in both the structure and procedure provided for in these bills. We are recommending a three-man Commission with one member appointed from the public at large; one from among the organized blind, and one from workers for the blind; and we will insist that, in any event, the Commission be so constructed as to insure it will not be controlled by the agencies which are being studied. We will insist that the Commission conduct studies by means of public hearings with due notice given; that it be given power to subpoena witnesses, records, and documents and that all interested parties be given an opportunity to hear and be heard; and that the final report and recommendations of the Commission be based upon the record so made.
Hearing on the Bills. On July 31, 1957 a hearing was held on these two bills, at which Congressman Matthews, Hulen Walker of the Foundation, Peter J. Salmon of the Brooklyn Industrial Home for the Blind, and Miss Mary E. Switzer, Director of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation appeared on behalf of one or the other of the two bills. Only one day of hearings was held and they are intended to be resumed when Congress reassembles. Questions and remarks by the sub-committee members seemed to give clear indication that at least some of them are cognizant of the same objections to the bills as we have ourselves raised. The witnesses were pressed for justification of the propriety of establishing a Commission composed largely of representatives of the governmental agencies to be investigated. Questioning also seemed to raise some doubts as to the practicability of having members of Congress serve on such a Commission.
The Sub-Committee. These hearings were held, and when they are resumed will continue to be held, before the sub-committee on special education of the House Committee on Labor and Education. It consists of five members, as follows:
Carl Elliott, Alabama-Chairman
Stuyvesant Wainwright-New York
Donald W. Nicholson-Massachusetts
George S. McGovern-South Dakota
Congressman Green in particular seemed, by her questions and comments, to be on the right track. Chairman Elliott also gave indication of a realization of the problems involved in creating such a Commission. Congressman Nicholson seemed to be unfamiliar with the principles and problems involved. The other two members did not take active part in the questioning.
What You Should Do. We strongly urge that you give special attention to the members of the sub-committee enumerated in the preceding paragraph, and acquaint them with your views on the proper composition of the Commission, pointing out especially that it should be under the control of representatives of the public, and of that segment of the public which is most directly concerned-namely the blind. You should also stress the necessity for giving the Commission access to all necessary data and evidence and ensuring that opportunity be given to all interested persons to appear and testify. It would also be advisable to communicate these same views to members of the entire House Committee on Labor and Education and to your own Congressmen.
The Importance of the Bills. As has been pointed out above, the establishment of such a Commission along the lines proposed by the Federation could quite conceivably result in a great deal of good. We would expect that mistaken views of the nature of the handicap of blindness and misguided methods of coping with it would be exposed and perhaps corrected, that examples of mal-administration, incompetence, inefficiency, discrimination, and neglect of duty could be pointed out where they exist, that waste and inefficiency could be eliminated by avoidance of the overlapping of functions and that valuable recommendations might be made for the enlargement and extension of existing programs and for developing new approaches and new services so designed to meet the real needs of the blind for admission into first class citizenship in the fullest sense of the word. On the other hand, if we allow the Commission to be established in the manner and form proposed by the Administration, it is conceivable that it can be used to bulwark existing evils and to buttress the view that regards the agencies as the custodians of an incompetent blind population.
NFB RESOLUTION 57-02
WHEREAS, upon the recommendation of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare has submitted to the Congress a proposal for the establishment of a twenty-one member Presidential Study Commission on problems of the blind; and
WHEREAS, S. 2385 and H.R. 8427 have been introduced into the Senate and House of Representatives respectively by Senator Alexander Smith and Congressman Stuyvesant Wainwright at the request of Secretary Marion B. Folsom; and
WHEREAS, these bills fail to provide specifically for representation upon the Study Commission for organizations composed of and speaking for the blind themselves, although the President is requested to make appointments from among "leaders in medicine, social work, psychology, rehabilitation and related professions, representatives of public and voluntary organizations or agencies providing services to blind persons... ; and
WHEREAS, the work of the Commission will actually be conducted by a staff selected by the Commission inasmuch as Commission members themselves will serve only part-time, and authorization is given to draw staff members from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and from among other professional workers for the blind; and
WHEREAS, both the composition of the proposed Commission and the stated scope of the Commission's activities make it clearly evident that the study to be made will not be carried out with any genuine independence from influence by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and other agencies presently conducting programs for the blind, and cannot, therefore, result in a fair and impartial survey and evaluation of existing programs and the directions in which they tend; and
WHEREAS, these bills fail utterly to recognize or make accommodation to the most significant reality today in the area of programming for the blind and evaluating the needs and problems of the blind; namely, the pervasive fact that the vital social and economic interests of the blind people of the nation do not coincide with, and in truth, differ sharply in many respects from the vested interests of professional workers for the blind in the perpetuation of outmoded practices and concepts relating to the social and economic role the blind can play; and
WHEREAS, a Study Commission so composed and so limited in the scope of its endeavors can scarcely produce at this time a genuinely useful review of programs for the blind, but instead, is more likely to buttress with Presidential authority the repugnant attitudes of paternalism and custodialism which are now prevalent among professional workers for the blind and which in large measure characterize existing programs conducted by public and private agencies for the blind;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled at New Orleans, Louisiana, this 6th day of July, 1957,
THAT this Convention urgently recommends to the United States Congress that S. 2385 and H.R. 8427 be drastically revised before enactment to accomplish the following purposes:
(1) To provide for a balance of the contending interests in the area of work for the blind today by granting equal representation upon the Study Commission to,
(a) the public
(b) organizations of the blind themselves
(c) organizations composed of professional workers for the blind; and
2) To provide for a Commission composed of fewer than twenty-one members which will be able itself to conduct the work of the Commission; and
(3) To provide for a staff to assist the Commission which will be entirely independent of existing programs for the blind in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and in State and private agencies expending Federal funds for aid to the blind or services to the blind; and
(4) To provide for subpoena powers sufficient to enable the Commission to assemble all relevant data from agencies expending Federal funds and to require testimony from any person employed by an agency or organization receiving benefits from Federal funds in order to carry out a program for the blind; and
(5) To provide that the proceedings of the Commission in their entirety shall be a public record revealing all facts brought to the attention of the Commission and expressing the views and evaluations of all persons and groups interested in matters relating to the blind.
(The foregoing resolution was unanimously adopted by the National Federation of the Blind Convention on July 6, 1957.)
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With many apologies to the Alabama Federation of the Blind, we wish to correct an error and supply an omission in the list of donors to The Braille Monitor which was published some issues ago. By inadvertence the name of the Alabama Federation did not appear on that list though they had made a contribution of one hundred dollars. We are only too happy now to acknowledge the gift.
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by Dr. Newell Perry,
California Council of the Blind
Such a question, when advanced by an American, will surprise anyone to whom it is addressed. In the twentieth century, organizing has become second nature to all of us. Daniel Webster would have replied simply that: "In Union there is strength." Aesop would have responded by narrating the fable regarding the boy, who after trying in vain to break a bundle of sticks, was advised to break each stick individually.
The weak can defend themselves from the strong, only by uniting their individual efforts. This is the universal truth which all history teaches. Rome, who readily accepted the idea of organization, came to rule the world, while the Athenians, a much more gifted people, but who rejected organization, lost their independence and were overrun and humiliated by Philip of Macedonia.
The blind are weak, economically. Their number is small. The demand for their labor is practically nil. Their poverty subjects them to much humiliation. Though their wants are many, they are too timid to insist that society should provide them with remunerative employment. They are inarticulate. Their discomforts are many, yet they dare not complain. To do so might displease a Social Worker and result in increased want and additional embarrassment.
Unlike the blind, other members of society met a similar situation by resorting to the labor union, using the strike as a weapon. Why did not the blind resort to the strike? Obviously, because no demand for the labor of the blind existed. What then should the blind do? While it is true that the principle of the strike cannot be made use of by the blind, it is nevertheless true that a resort to organization can still yield benefits to them. Organization of the blind will provide them with a means of propaganda, and it has been frequently demonstrated that a united effort at propaganda can succeed, and has succeeded in raising the blind man's standard of living. To propagandize requires courage, and membership in an organization will provide both courage and strength.
A conviction almost universally entertained by the blind to the effect that they are frequently unjustly treated by the Social Workers is allowed to go unexpressed, due to fear. Membership in an organization of the blind, for the blind, and by the blind will help to remove this fear, and frank and bold criticism would reach the ears of legislators and would help greatly by enabling your Congressmen and the members of your legislature to understand your needs. Be assured these men do not now understand your problem. However, much of your dissatisfaction now vented on your social workers-is misdirected. For example, your bitterness over the fact that your meager earnings are taken away from you through reductions in your aid, is not to be blamed on your social worker. On the contrary, the fault rests with your Congressmen. Congress has forbidden the State authorities to permit you to retain any of your earnings. To whom, then, shall we address our complaints? The answer is clear. We must complain to our Congressmen in Washington. Through what vehicle, then, shall I communicate my wants and my criticism to the Congressmen in Washington? The answer is not a State organization of the blind. Remember, Congress legislates-not for a particular State-but for all the States. If, therefore, we wish to petition Congress, we must do so through a National Organization. Since, from now on, we must look to Washington for relief, it follows that we must communicate with these Federal legislators through a nationwide organization which speaks, not for the blind of a particular State only-but for the combined blind of the whole country.
We have every reason to be proud of the achievements of the NFB. Practically every Congressman has already become aware of our national organization and regards it with respect. We must not return to our follies of former years. We must not make the mistake of sending forty-eight separate groups to explain our needs to Congress. Such a procedure would inevitably result only in giving Congress the impression that the blind do not know what they want, and as a natural consequence it would decline to take any immediate action.
To impress Congress, we must send to Washington our most able and best trained respresentatives. Fortunately, under the energetic administration of our President, we have done just that. Our campaign in Washington has been intensive and carried on by men who possess ability, industry, zeal, and understanding of the present needs of the blind. Let us continue to present a united front in Washington.
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Mr. John Nagle is in charge of convention arrangements on behalf of the host affiliate, the Associated Blind of Massachusetts. Its address is 182 State Street, Springfield 3, Massachusetts.
The National Federation of the Blind will hold its 1958 convention in Boston at the Hotel Somerset. The convention will last four days-July 4, 5, 6, and 7.
Hotel reservations should be made directly with the Hotel Somerset with a carbon copy to Mr. Nagle. Reservations should be made as early as possible since we may need more rooms than the number presently estimated. When you write to the hotel be sure to say you are requesting the reservation in order to attend the Convention of the National Federation of the Blind.
The Hotel rates are as follows:
One room unit with one single bed $ 5.00 All rooms with bath.
One room unit with double bed $ 9.00 Many but not all rooms.
One room unit with twin beds $10.50 are air-conditioned.
There are special group rates:
Four people in a one-bedroom suite (one bedroom and parlor) $4.00 per person
Four people in a family unit (two connecting bedrooms, 4 beds) $4.00 per person
Four people in a two-bedroom suite (2 bedrooms, living room and bath) $5.00 per person
All meetings of the convention will be held in the Louis XIV Ballroom. Beginning Thursday, July 3, the Regency Ballroom will be set aside as a social room. The registration desk will be in the West Lobby.
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A year ago David Norman, a young blind attorney, secured a position with the Civil Rights Unit of the Justice Department in Washington, D. C. Within the last couple of months two other blind attorneys have been employed by the Justice Department, this time in the Anti-Trust Division. They are John Wilson, who graduated from the University of Michigan Law School last summer, and John Sirignano, who has been in the employ of other branches of the government for some time.
The Christopher Publishing House, Boston, has recently announced the publication of Merrill A. Maynard's COME WALK WITH ME , a book of poems. Merrill Maynard is blind, a graduate of Perkins Institution and the New York School of Education for the Blind and is currently serving his third term as a member of the City Council. He is the founder of the Braille Poets' Guild, Inc., which issues a magazine, Inspiration, through which blind members exchange their verse in Braille. He is also the author of "America Mine" and many other selections published by the Boston Book Fellows and the anthology of contemporary blind poets, THEY SING IN THE NIGHT.
The Memphis Chapter of the Tennessee Federation of the Blind recently secured the dismissal of Carolyn Bloodworth as Rehabilitation Counselor in Memphis. The blind of Memphis have long been dissatisfied with Miss Bloodworth's work. Earlier efforts to secure improvements, however, had failed. This time the blind of Memphis took their case to the newspapers in a carefully itemized and documented series of complaints. Within a few days Miss Bloodworth was dismissed. She is currently taking an appeal.
President tenBroek's New Orleans' banquet address entitled "The Cross of Blindness" has been published in full in the September 15 issue of the well-known magazine Vital Speeches. There it stands in company with speeches by Charles S. Rhyne, president-elect of the American Bar Association; George Meany, president AFL-CIO; Willard G. Wyman, Commanding General, U. S. Continental Army; and Grayson Kirk, president, Columbia University.
The Braille Monitor has received an announcement of the SEARC Radio Library for the Blind, or SRLB. Its services are available to any blind person in the U. S. and Canada and specializes in materials dealing with electronics. Braille items are normally in Standard English Braille Grade 2, and tape recordings are normally dual track, 3.75 IPS, three to seven inch reels. The Library lists a nominal handling charge to defray its mailing and handling costs. Interested persons can write to SEARC Radio Library for the Blind, 11819 Parkview Avenue, Cleveland 4, Ohio.
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Fifteen State affiliates of the NFB have held their State conventions since the deadline for the last issue of The Braille Monitor. Reports covering two of these-Massachusetts and North Carolina are contained in the "George Card Journal" appearing earlier in this issue. Brief summaries of the proceedings of the remaining twelve are here set forth.
[Reprinted from he Michigan Council of the Blind Bulletin for October, 1957.]
The eighth annual convention of the MCB was held at Pontiac, September 14. It was well attended and everybody seemed to have a wonderful time. The American Legion Home provided color and comfort and the dinner was superb. The Congressman from the 18th District, the Honorable William Bloomfield, has a charming personality and his address was well received. Mr. Clyde Ross, president of the Ohio Federation of the Blind, was sent to us by courtesy of the National Federation. He is also second vice president of the NFB. He and his charming wife were just one of us and we were delighted. His address on the work of the National Federation and its affiliates was both informative and inspiring. It is interesting to note that we added twenty-one new names to our membership rolls in Pontiac.
Our dance orchestra which was supplied through courtesy of the Musicians' Union was excellent, and it seemed as though all our blind people took part and kept the floor full.
At our meetings Saturday afternoon and Sunday, we heard tape recordings from the National Federation Convention. The use of tape gives us first hand knowledge of the work of the National Federation and its brilliant leadership. When we say "first hand," we mean just that. It corrects cheap gossip which is inevitable in any national movement.
The annual convention of the Oregon Council of the Blind, held at the new Ella Munro Burdin Memorial Center for the Blind, September 21-22 brought to a close one of the most successful and productive years yet shown by the Council.
Highlighting the two-day proceedings was the guest appearance of Lyle Von Erichsen and his wife, from Spokane. On Saturday Mr. Von Erichsen participated in a panel discussion concerning the Washington Training Center for the Blind and Handcrest, Inc. Issac Myers, superintendent of the Training Center, and Kenneth Bryan, Services for the Blind supervisor, appeared also as members of the panel. The two-hour session was enthusiastically received by members interested in a similar program in Oregon. Sunday morning the Von Erichsens returned to explain in detail the operation of Washington's summer camp and Day for the Blind program.
An extensive legislative program was adopted at the meeting with Aid to the Blind high on the list. National legislation brought about the following action: (1) It was voted "that this convention strongly endorse the two principles involved in S. 2411 and H.R. 8609, namely: that the responsible leaders of the organizations of the blind themselves be consulted before determining policies and programs for the Blind; that the right of the Blind to self-expression and freedom of expression through their own organizations be protected." and (2) "That this convention go on record as endorsing the intent and purpose of H.R. 1955 and H.R. 8427 provided that these bills be revised to provide for a balance of contending interests in the area of work for the Blind by granting equal representation to the Study Commission of the public, organizations of the Blind, and organizations composed of professional workers for the Blind." Both passed unanimously.
The NFB New Orleans delegate report, White Cane mailings Loan Fund progress, Publicity report, etc.--all received prominent attention. New activities developed were (1) a program to supply where needed, tape recordings of specialized textbooks to blind college students; (2) a recreation program designed to give vacation opportunities, particularly to home-bound blind persons.
The banquet address Saturday evening was given by Lyle Von Erichsen who voiced a strong plea that organizations of blind persons must work together within their ranks before any goals will be achieved. His factual report of the Washington Association served as an example in stating his case for unity among the groups.
New officers elected were: E. B. Gehrke, president, Coos Bay; Fred Krepela, 1st vice-president, Salem; Melva Urban, 2nd vice-president, Portland; Edna Williams, Treasurer, Portland; Lilly Jones, recording secretary, Eugene; Stanhope Pier, corresponding secretary, Portland; and Iris Malcomb, member-at-large, Amity. Elected as NFB delegate to Boston was Robert Schauer, Portland; alternate, John Ragsdale, Medford.
The second convention this year of the Missouri Federation of the Blind got under way at the Rubideaux Hotel in St. Joseph on Saturday morning, September 21, and adjourned the following day at noon. Dr. tenBroek, NFB President, was on hand to deliver the banquet address. Several members of the State Legislature attended the banquet and some of the other sessions. Kenneth Jernigan, NFB board member, was also present at the convention.
At the Saturday afternoon session Mrs. Laura Welle, who was elected president of the Missouri Federation in the spring of last year, announced that, for personal reasons, she would have to resign. At a special election held the following morning Mrs. Alma Murphey of St. Louis was chosen to fill out Mrs. Welle's unexpired term. One of the high points of the convention was the part taken in its proceedings by Jack Murphey, Mrs. Murphey's brilliant deaf -blind husband. By means of signals which the Murpheys have worked out, Jack is able to keep up with everything that is happening and being said. His performance was nothing short of remarkable.
Among other things, plans were made to contact Missouri Congressmen and Senators to get their support for our bills on the right of the blind to organize. It was also decided to launch an active membership drive to try to bring in new chapters to the State organization. The drive will be jointly financed by the Missouri Federation and its present local affiliates.
The Kentucky Federation of the Blind held its meeting at the Kentucky Hotel in Louisville on the week-end of September 20. A varied program of papers and discussions included: a discussion of the activities of the Louisville Lions Club; a talk on Civil Defense; reports by the president of the Kentucky School for the Blind, the Association of Vending Stand Operators and the Louisville Association of the Blind; and a discussion on low vision optical aids led by three Louisville doctors. Resolutions were passed endorsing the King Bill and the Kennedy-Baring Bill. Clyde Ross and John Taylor represented the NFB, Clyde speaking Saturday afternoon and John delivering the banquet address Saturday night. The following officers and convention delegates were elected: president, Harold Reagan; first vice-president, Bob Whitehead; second vice-president, Ernest Bourne; third vice-president, Mrs. B. Taylor; recording secretary, Bill Fritsch; corresponding secretary, Eloise Becker; treasurer, Anne Cain; convention delegates, Harold Reagan, Glen Shoulders, Burt Becker, and R. Stringe.
The annual convention of the Nevada Federation of the Blind was in the nature of a celebration this year. The meeting got under way on Friday morning, September 27, and adjourned after the banquet the following evening. Throughout the entire two-day meeting a spirit of optimism and gaiety prevailed.
Mrs. Barbara Coughlan, Nevada's able welfare director, was present to review the progress of the past year. She told the assembled delegates that Mr. Russell Maki of Wisconsin had been appointed field worker and that he would begin his duties on October 15. Mr. George Magers, newly appointed head of the Bureau of Rehabilitation for the Blind, spoke at a special luncheon on Friday and outlined his plans for getting the program underway.
The Saturday program contained three items of special interest. Dr. Isabelle Grant, widely-known authority in the field of education of the blind, spoke at a luncheon. She outlined the goals which an educational program for the blind should strive to attain and pointed out the important part which the Federation should play in any such program which is truly progressive. After the luncheon Mrs. Bettye Powell, who taught last year at the Arkansas School for the Blind, told of the new pre-school classes for the bl : nd children which she is organizing under the sponsorship of the Reno public school system; and Mrs, Edith Henrich, a blind professor at the University of Nevada, told of her experiences as a teacher.
Elections were also held at the Saturday afternoon session, and John Cashman of Las Vegas was unanimously reelected as president of the organization. Mrs. Audrey Bascom of Las Vegas was elected first vice-president.
The climax of the two-day meeting came on Saturday evening with the banquet. Kenneth Jemigan, NFB Board Member, was the featured speaker, and Congressman Walter Baring was present.
Mr. Jernigan's speech dealt with the bills concerning the right of the blind to organize, recently introduced by Senator Kennedy and Congressman Baring. He read the resolution passed in July by the American Association of Workers for the Blind opposing the Kennedy and Baring bills and then subjected this resolution to a thoroughgoing analysis. At the conclusion of Mr. Jernigan's speech, Congressman Baring took the floor. The ovation which he received was deafening. He expressed outrage at the AAWB resolution and reaffirmed his intention of doing everything possible to secure the passage of H R, 8609 and S. 2411. The festivities ended with a vote by the membership to make Congressman Baring a member of the organization. This was officially confirmed when Congressman Baring received his NFB membership pin, which Mr. Jernigan attached to his lapel.
As these materials are being prepared for the November Braille Monitor the sad news has just reached us of the death of John Cashman. John was serving in his third year as president of the Nevada Federation of the Blind. He had been in declining health for some time. As first vice-president, Audrey Bascom will succeed to the presidency.
The third annual CFB convention was held October 5, 1957 in Denver. There were forty delegates and members to register. Due to a cancellation of a speaker, we were able to fill in at the last minute with Dr. tenBroek's taped speech "Within the Grace of God," The main portion of the program was "The Blind and the Right to Organize," another one of Dr, tenBroek's taped speeches. A panel discussion was held on Senate Bill S, 241 1. A number of resolutions were unanimously adopted-supporting the right of the blind to organize and Senate bill S. 2411. Donations were made: two hundred dollars, Braille Monitor; two hundred dollars, NFB endowment fund; sixty dollars, National White Cane Week Committee.
At the banquet, the Wyoming Association of the Blind was ably represented by its president and our guest, Mrs. Darken McGray. The highlight of the convention was an address by Mr. Allen G. Jenkins of Oakland, California.
The following were elected to office for a two-year term: president, William E. Wood, 1115 S. Emerson St., Denver 10; first vice-president, Samuel A. Matzner, 2425 Robinson Street, Colorado Springs; second vice-president, Marvin Milan, 1160 Corona Street, Denver 18; corresponding secretary, Imogene Wilkowski, 721 E. 14th Avenue, Denver 3; recording secretary, Grace Matzner, 2425 Robinson Street, Colorado Springs; treasurer, Marie Jensen, 2255 South Adams Street, Denver 10.
Board Members: Clifford Jensen, 2255 South Adams Street, Denver 10; Charles Brammer, 228 South Corona Street, Denver 10; Keith James 2024 West Platte Avenue, Colorado Springs.
The annual convention of the Louisiana Federation of the Blind was held in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday, October 5, 1957. Eighty delegates attended from the various chapters.
Some significant items of business passed by the convention were as follows:
1. Increase the number of delegates the State will send to the National Federation of the Blind convention in Boston to two.
2. To prepare and circulate recordings of pertinent National Federation of the Blind and Louisiana Federation of the Blind literature. These recordings would be donated to the regional library who in turn would distribute them to the talking book readers. Copies would also be made available to the various chapters of the state organization and individual members.
3. To prepare and re-introduce into the Louisiana Legislature a public assistance bill modeled after the Nevada and California Acts.
4. To amend the "Blind Made Products Act" to include all services rendered and all goods manufactured by the blind.
5. To seek for blind persons additional points on the scores of State Civil Service examinations similar to those already granted to veterans in this State.
One of the highlights of the convention was the banquet held on Saturday evening. Mayor Jack Christian, Baton Rouge gave the welcoming address. The principal speaker was W. B. Bridges, Director of the Bureau for the Blind. Also addressing the group was W. C. Gill, Superintendent of the State School for the Blind.
1958 convention city will be New Orleans, Louisiana.
State officers for 1957-58 elected at the convention are as follows: president, Pharoah Taylor, Shreveport; vice-president, L. E. Roy, New Orleans; secretary, Mrs. Jerry Brown, New Orleans; treasurer, Dr. G. W. Slemmons, Shreveport; sergeant-at-arms, Robert Buison, New Orleans.
The Indiana Council of the Blind held its annual convention at the Gary Hotel in Gary, Indiana October 11-12-13. Especially interesting discussions were held on public assistance, disability insurance, techniques of lobbying, the legislative programs of the NFB and the Indiana Council in which prominent guest speakers and organization members participated. Dr. tenBroek represented the NFB and delivered the banquet address. The following officers were elected or re-elected: president, John Miller of Crown Point; vice-president, John Janssens of South Bend; second vice-president, Robert Peterson of Goshen; secretary-treasurer, Jane Hawkins of Indianapolis; associate secretary, Mary Watts of Indianapolis.
The California Council of the Blind, Inc. held its semi-annual convention on October 10th, 11th and 12th at the Hotel Californian in Fresno. The meeting was attended by more than one hundred fifty members from thirty-eight affiliates, plus the delegates at large and ten delegates by position.
The agenda covered a variety of subjects. Emphasis was given to activities of local organizations, especially in regard to their methods of supporting State and Federal Legislation. Kenneth Jernigan presented his paper, "Programs for Local Chapters." Catherine Skivers, 1957 White Cane Week chairman, gave the results of the campaign. Her report shows that California had achieved its most successful year to date. George Fogarty and Tom Long presented plans for the 1958 White Cane Week campaign. These plans include the usual mail campaign, plus a state-wide sale of White Cane Week Club Memberships at one dollar each, the member holding the receipt with the lucky number to win a 1958 deluxe Chevrolet. Plans include the sale of 50,000 memberships. Other highlights of the Friday session included a panel discussion on "The Right to Organize Bills," followed by an address by Mr. Paul L. Reeves, vice-president of California State Federation of Labor. The panel discussed the Kennedy and Baring bills, the background which led to their introduction in Congress, the opposition which has developed on the part of agencies for the blind and methods which should be used to assure passage of these bills. Mr. Reeves, in talking on the right to organize, stressed the importance of organization and gave assurance that labor would support the blind in this and every other worthy cause.
Another important item of the Friday session was a report by the Loan Fund Committee. Dorothy Glass, chairman of the committee, reported that the loan fund had been established. Miss Glass also announced that any person contributing ten dollars or more or any club contributing fifty dollars or more before the spring meeting of 1958 would be listed among charter contributions and that a suitable document with the names of all such contributors would be presented at that meeting. The committee hopes to see a substantial fund established within a comparatively short time. Fred Pearson, who has been representing the Council on the planning committee for the Governor's Conference on Rehabilitation of Physically Handicapped, reported on the plans for the conference, which will be held in Sacramento on November 12, 13th and 14th. He announced that the council will have five representatives at this conference.
Saturday's session included the adoption of some proposed changes in the by-laws of the council. The most important of these changes was the giving of two votes to each local affiliate and the designation of twelve delegates holding important positions in agencies serving the blind, the latter positions to be re-affirmed every two years. Perry Sundquist discussed "New Welfare Legislation," emphasizing the provisions of the Disability Insurance Program and the new Medical Assistance Program in California. B. V. Yturbide and Ernest Leslie discussed the problems concerning State legislation which have been referred to an interim committee for study. This legislation concerns chiefly the need for improved rehabilitation services and the method of obtaining Federal funds for other services, such as the Orientation Training Center and the Field Work Services, and at the same time the necessity of maintaining the integrity and essential characteristics of the latter two. Other highlights of the Saturday session included a report by George Fogarty on the New Orleans NFB Convention and a report given by Dr. Isabelle Grant on her travels in Europe in which she visited many schools for the blind, talked to educators of the blind and attended the World Conference on the Education of Blind Youth.
Several important resolutions were adopted, including resolutions on the right to organize; registering a protest concerning an article which appeared in the Braille Minor on the right to organize bills and requesting equal space for the presentation of the Kennedy bills; full participation of membership of the Council and its affiliates and enjoyment of rights and privileges regardless of race, color or creed; congratulating the Western Conference of Teachers of the Adult Blind on their endorsement of the Kennedy bill; requesting the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation to issue regulations in conformity with the Federal requirements which will assure vending stand operators security under the provisions of new legislation requiring annual renewal of licenses; authorizing a committee to act as a clearing house for job opportunities and to consider the feasibility of job finding and placement services by the council; requesting all interested parties, especially agencies for the blind, to join with the council in the achievement of the goal of the council to provide for security and independence of the blind.
The Illinois Federation of the Blind had its State convention on October 11th, 12th, and 13th. Three new chapters were added to the federation making a total of twenty-three. The names of these three new organizations are: The Mary Bryant Home Association, with Rev. Fred G. Foster, president, Neponset, Illinois; Fox Valley Association of the Visually Handicapped, Dr. H. S, Peterson, president, 525 North Street, Aurora, Illinois; and Piano Technicians of Illinois, Tom Lockerbie, 1520 Isabella Street, Wilmette, Illinois. About one hundred and fifty people registered at the convention, and one hundred and thirty-one persons attended the banquet.
The banquet speaker was Walter Woodcock, executive secretary, Freeport Chamber of Commerce, Freeport, Illinois. His subject was "Let's Expose our Wares," His talk mostly concerned itself with the importance of strong organizations. Mr, L. J, Flood, Superintendent Illinois Braille and Sight Saving School, received the Mary McCann Award this year. Mr, Flood in his acceptance speech praised the IFB in detail for its organizational work in Illinois.
Many resolutions were passed. The organization went on record supporting the Kennedy-Baring Bills. It resolved to sponsor an investigation of workshops in Illinois.
The IFB on October first hired a part-time secretary. This secretary will be in Springfield, Illinois and work mostly on project type work such as publicity and White Cane, and of course work with the Legislative representative when he is in Springfield.
Officers and board members of the Illinois Federation of the Blind, Inc. president, Robert O'Shaughnessy; first vice-president, Fred Lilley; second vice-president, Harry Reints, 1436 High Street, Freeport, Illinois; secretary, George Pople; treasurer, Jack Reed; four-year board member, Jack Warren; three-year board member, Victor Buttram; two-year board member, Holland Horton; one-year board member, Floyd Cargill. National Federation of the Blind delegates are: Robert O'Shaughnessy, Vic Buttram, Jack Reed, Fred Lilley.
The annual convention of the Arizona State Association of the Blind was held in Phoenix this year at the Arizona Hotel on Saturday and Sunday, October 12 and 13. The Saturday afternoon program featured an address by Mr. Manuel Cajero, newly appointed head of the reorganized Blind Services Unit in the Department of Welfare. Mr. Cajero outlined his plans for the future and then opened the floor to questions. In the discussion which followed Mr. Cajero said, among other things, that he felt it was desirable for the blind to organize and state agencies for blind to initiate consultation with representative organizations of the blind. He said that he was willing to begin such a program of consultation immediately.
Kenneth Jernigan, NFB Board Member, delivered the banquet address on Saturday evening.
At the Sunday session Richard Stotera announced that he was resigning as editor of Arizona's Wliite Cane Journal in order to launch a private publishing venture of his own. He said that he plans to begin the publication of a magazine to be known as Insight, which will deal with the problems of handicapped people generally, but that probably eighty percent of its material will deal with affairs of the blind. The convention voted to try to continue the publication of the White Cane Journal and left the matter of finding a new editor to the board of directors.
A resolution was passed requiring each local club to conduct at least one local fundraising drive each year-fifty percent of the proceeds to be kept by the club, twenty-five percent to go to the State organization and twenty-five percent to be sent to the national office of the Federation. It was also voted to send a contribution of fifty dollars to The Braille Monitor, This was not an election year, but Fay Langdon of Phoenix was elected delegate to next year's NFB Convention in Boston. Mrs. Langdon, the treasurer of the Arizona State Association, has been very active in bringing new members into the organization. In 1955 she organized the Cochise County affiliate, and this year, with the help of George Card, she organized Yuma. Richard Stotera was chosen alternate delegate. A motion passed that the State Association would pay part of the expenses of a delegate from each of the local clubs, provided the local club would bear the rest of the costs.
A resolution was passed endorsing S. 2411 and H.R. 8609 and instructing a committee from the State association to deliver copies of the resolution of endorsement to each member of Arizona's congressional delegation. Yuma was selected as next year's convention site.
The Empire State Association of the Blind held its second annual convention at the Yates Hotel in Syracuse, October 19 and 20. The legislative committee and the board held meetings Thursday night and all day Friday. Allen Jenkins and Earl Scharry on behalf of the NFB assisted in the formulation of legislative plans. On Sunday these plans dealing with rehabilitation, public assistance, employment of the blind in the teaching profession and other phases of work for the blind were adopted by the convention after discussion. Saturday afternoon talks were presented by Miss Bernard, Supervisor of Public Assistance for the Blind; Mr. Brown, in charge of the State's program for rehabilitation; and Miss DeWitt, Manager of the Binghamton Workshop for the Blind. A lively discussion followed each of these speeches and the archaic character of New York's public assistance program as well as the inadequacies of the vocational rehabilitation program were fully exposed. Dr. tenBroek delivered the banquet address Saturday night.
The Empire State Association of the Blind now has eleven chapters. Two were not represented at the convention. Dr. tenBroek invested the nine who were represented with their charters of affiliation. The following officers were elected: Peter Roidl, president; Anthony Parise, first vice-president; Julius Conner, second vice-presdient; Maryjane Hills, recording secretary; Irene Sekelis, corresponding secretary; Wilbur Webb, treasurer. Mr. Roidl and Mr. Webb were elected delegates to the 1958 NFB convention in Boston.
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With the death of William Ulmer Parks on September 25, one of the really pioneer figures in the organized blind movement has passed from the scene, His death came in the ripeness of time and after his great contribution had been made. In singling bim out for distinction at the Omaha convention of the National Federation of the Blind in 1955 president tenBroek summarized him and his work in these words: "Ordained minister of the Congregational Church, pioneer organizer of the blind, for twenty years the devoted administrator of a pilot State program of services to the blind, active and energetic lobbyist in the cause of the blind, wise and far-sighted leader of the organized blind of Wisconsin for many years, now a revered patriarch."
Although serving a parish in another State at the time, Dr. Parks took a leading part in the formation of the first organized group of Wisconsin blind in 1897, the alumni association of what was then called the Wisconsin School for the Blind, He served on its board of directors during most of the next half century. Between 1897 and 1924 he returned to his native State many times to appear at legislative hearings and to attend meetings of the organized blind. In 1922 he received a call from a church in Tacoma, Washington, but two years later there came an urgent summons from Wisconsin to return and become the first head of the new State agency for the blind.
During the following twenty years, Dr. Parks not only demonstrated that a blind man can successfully administer a large State agency for the blind, but also that he can at the same time put the interest of the rank and file blind ahead of everything else and himself participate actively in all their affairs without thereby losing prestige in his position, Dr, Parks contrived to spend as little time as possible at his desk. He had little patience with bureaucratic methods or red tape of any sort With his devoted sighted wife as chauffeur he travelled up and down the highways and byways of Wisconsin visiting every known blind person in his home, shop, or office. He used every conceivable method to find the needy blind. He did battle with the penurious county welfare agencies. He himself did the work of home teacher, rehabilitation counselor and placement agent, He inspired his little staff of workers to prodigious efforts. The sound of his hearty baritone voice and his never-flagging cheerfulness brought comfort, hope, and new courage everywhere he went.
Dr. Parks joined what is now the Badger Association soon after it was formed and a little later helped to organize the Fox River Association which later became the present Midwest Association for the Blind, He was an associate member of both the vending machine operators and the stand operators. He spearheaded the formation of the alumni revolving fund to help blind persons get started in a business or trade or profession. This fund was started with nickles and dimes of the blind themselves. For more than thirty years he was chairman of the committee which administered this fund. Under his wise stewardship more than two hundred blind persons were enabled to make a start through this fund.
Dr. Parks also played an active role in the creation of the adult summer session which is conducted each year at the Janesville school. This institution was in full flower long before any of the present adjustment or orientation centers were thought of. During Dr. Park's regime, seventy to eighty blind men and women, many of them newly blinded, attended an eight-week session of intensive training and re-training.
In 1944 Dr. Parks reached the legal retirement age of seventy-five. Retirement pensions were not as liberal then as they are now and he did not have an easy time of it. Despite this he continued to give unstintingly of his time, his strength, and his slender resources. At the age of eighty-four he sat up all of two nights in a railroad coach in order to attend a meeting in the western part of the State. The year before he made a thirty-six hour trip from Arkansas in order to appear at a legislative hearing in Madison. He made a dramatic and impressive appeal at that hearing with less than an hour's rest.
Dr. Parks served on the Wisconsin Council from its birth until 1953.
On the occasion of his eightieth birthday a jubilee banquet was held in his honor in Milwaukee and was attended by many scores of loyal friends and administrators from all parts of the State. He received a number of gifts but what pleased him most were the oral tributes delivered by chosen representatives of the five organizations of the blind to whose success he had contributed so much. One of these said: "Our beloved guest of honor tonight has been and still is the living symbol of unity to which all of the blind of Wisconsin turn."
Along with Ross Koen and Dr. Newel Perry, Dr. Parks was given the special rank of Senior Counselor in the NFB.
Dr. Parks has passed from the scene but the monument he has left of himself in the lives of individual blind people and in the life of the organized blind movement will be a living reality in the indefinite future.
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