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
2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, Calif.
NOVEMBER ISSUE 1960
THE BRAILLE MONITOR
Published monthly in Braille and distributed free to the blind by the National Federation of the Blind, 329 Insurance Exchange Building, Des Moines 9, Iowa.
Inkprint edition produced and distributed by the National Federation of the Blind, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, California, Subscription rate-- $3.00 per year.
EDITOR: KENNETH JERNIGAN, 329 Insurance Exchange Building, Des Moines 9, Iowa.
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.
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National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
Open Letter to Monitor Readers
"Ye Gods! Power over Whom?"
by Jacobus tenBroek
The Free Press Is Too Democratic
by Kenneth Jernigan
Round-Up of Free Press Agitation
Free Press Takes Off the Mask
by Kenneth Jernigan
A Letter from Peter Salmon
A Letter from Sandford Allerton to George Card
Booms and Boomerangs
by M. Robert Barnett
Special Legislation vs. Equality--A False Dilemma
by Jacobus tenBroek
"Blind School 'One Big Mess'--Massive Repairs Ordered"
Here and There
From Our Readers
In assuming the duties of editor I would like to say a few words to all Monitor readers. First, this: My success or failure as editor will largely be determined by you. I know that I need not dwell upon the troubled times in which the Federation finds itself or the difficult circumstances under which I assume this task. I also know that the members of the Federation throughout the country will, as they always have, respond to the situation. I will need your comments and criticisms. I will also, need material for publication.
This, too, I would like to say: I shall do the best that I can to report to you factually and fairly events as they occur. This does not mean, of course, that I am, or intend to become, a neutral in the civil war which now besets our organization. I believe in the Federation and the principles for which it stands. I believe that our organization is, and that it always has been, democratic and progressive. I believe that our president is a devoted man and not a thief or a scoundrel.
Since I do believe these things, my editorial policies will inevitably be-governed accordingly. To say otherwise would be less than honest. Furthermore, I do not believe that it should be the function of the Monitor to have no views and no policy at all. Rather, I believe the magazine should follow the policies established democratically by the delegates at Federation conventions. Differing view-points have a legitimate place in the magazine but not unfounded charges of slander and vilification, which can only serve to weaken our movement. The purpose of the Monitor should be to build the Federation, not to destroy it.
Finally, I would like to say this: Even if an editor tries, it is impossible for him not to have an editorial policy. Consider the Free Press, for instance. It claims to present all points of view and to be open and unbiased. Yet, almost every article it prints is an attack upon the Federation and its leadership. By very virtue of what he selects to be printed an editor establishes a policy and espouses a cause.
I pledge to the members of the Federation that I will do my best to see that they get a factual and fair account of what is occurring throughout the nation, but I also pledge that I will do everything possible to strengthen and build the Federation through the pages of the Monitor, keeping the members informed of what the minority faction is doing and promoting the policies established by the majority at conventions.
Again I say that I shall need the help of all of you if the task is to be a success.
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by Dr. Jacobus tenBroek
President, National Federation of the Blind
The former editor of the Braille Monitor, George Card, whose resignation from the NFB staff and adherence to the McDaniel faction were reported in these pages last month, has now returned to journalism via the back door-- i.e., through the publication of a bitter attack upon the Federation's leadership in the factional house organ, the Free Press.
Entitled "The Miami Lynching Party"--the reference, of course, is to the democratic decision of the 1960 national convention to suspend six state affiliates--Card's article is mainly a repetition of the familiar accusations and insinuations broadcast over recent years by the embittered minority to whom Card has now offered his services.
The moral level of Card's discussion may be seen from the sneering reference at the outset to the president's "three principal henchmen--Kenneth (Sultan of Des Moines) Jernigan, John ("Me too.'") Taylor, and Russell (Charlie McCarthy) Kletzing."
The reliability of Card's evidence is indicated by the frequent appearance of such phrases as "he is said to have told...", "it is reported that..." and "it was heard. ..." (These phrases are invariably followed by a whopper.)
The logical quality of Card's reasoning is illustrated by his righteous denunciation of the practice of sending "instructed" delegates to the national convention--which follows the announcement of his own grand tour of the states for the avowed purpose of committing as many delegates as possible to a fixed anti-administration line next July.
The misleading character of Card's use of analogy is shown by his talk of the "pistol at the head" of the convention. "We voted," says Card, "with a pistol at our heads--in the form of this terrifying threat." The terrifying threat was simply my statement that, if the majority proved unable to act to defend itself and to preserve its organization against the destructive attacks of the McDaniel faction, I would voluntarily resign both as president and as a member. This was the "pistol at the head." The threat was not to remain after defeat, and to conduct internecine and guerilla warfare on the majority a la the McDaniel faction; it was to go away and bother them no more. If the threat of the president to go away was terrifying, and a pistol at the head, then this could only be because people wanted him to stay: i.e., because there was support for the administration. If, on the other hand, there is any truth in the Card-McDaniel portrayal of presidential tyranny and brutality--of moral corruption and political conspiracy--surely the president's promise to go away was no "terrifying threat" but an occasion for rejoicing.
The principal charge contained in Card's Free Press article is, not surprisingly, the same theme that has nourished the McDaniel faction over more than three years--merely brought up to date to include the events of last summer. It is the charge that democracy has been thoroughly trampled under by the Federation and its conventions, and specifically that the great majority of delegates who persist in voting against the wishes of the organized minority must have been somehow bribed, threatened, or intimidated--or else are the gullible dupes of a ruthless clique of leaders dominated by a power-hungry president. It is not always quite clear who is supposed to be the chief villain in this conspiracy. At times it serves the purposes and strategy of the Card-McDaniel group to portray the president as himself the dupe of still more sinister forces; thus Card writes ominously that "Some delegates were in doubt as to whether it was Dr. tenBroek or Kenneth Jernigan who was really calling the shots." Despite such oddly contradictory assertions, however, the Card article generally follows the established practice of depicting the NFB's president as a demagogue and megalomaniac, tyrannizing over all who come within range, gleefully tearing up the constitutions both of the Federation and of the United States, bullying and terrorizing convention delegates ("placing a gun at their heads"), and in general wallowing in enjoyment of his absolute despotic power.
This is a frightening spectacle--even if age and repetition have somewhat dulled its edges. Let us see what relation it bears to reality. What exactly is this awful power that the Federation's president wields, which evidently crushes all before it and reduces the membership of our national organization to such fear and trembling? What dread things can the president do? Can he by an exercise of arbitrary will set a police force in motion? On the contrary, he is so far from commanding a police force that our conventions (unlike those of nearly all comparable organizations) have lacked even a sergeant-at-arms to help keep order. Can the president then by executive edict send anyone to jail? He cannot. Does his tyranny consist, like that of Captain Bligh, in the power to have the disobedient flogged? Hardly. The president in simple fact has no judicial power, no police power, no power to punish, no power whatever to deprive any person of property, of livelihood--or even of speech and protest!
What then is the actual power of the Federation's president? It is, of course, only that of a democratic leader: the power to propose policies and carry out programs authorized by the convention--the power, in short, to lead. He may, to be sure, bring to the office the "power" of his own personality: the strength of his own character and the depth of his own conviction. He can, and he should, be vigorous in his administration and vigilant in his defense of the organization and its purposes; but the power that he exercises is only the power of the organization which stands behind him. If the members accept his ideas and endorse his administration, he has indeed a certain moral authority; if their support is withheld or withdrawn, he is utterly powerless. He is their agent, the executor of their majority will, fully accountable to them and readily removable by them. In short, it is not the president but the majority that rules in the Federation--and it is against this principle of majority rule, not against the nonexistent power of an imaginary dictator, that the Card-McDaniel faction has in fact arrayed itself.
The legend of the president's terrible power over the organization and its members; so assiduously cultivated by the minority faction, crumbles before the simple fact of the faction's own vicious and sustained agitatiom What is to be said of the "power" of a president who is himself the primary target of a campaign of defamation, insinuation, and character assassination--which seizes upon his every act and word, his private life and personal affairs as well as his public performance, as grist for the mill of revenge and retaliation? Every embittered renegade, each ambitious office-seeker, any discharged employee, is wholly free to carry his grudge into all our meetings and to pour out his venom in speech and writing without restriction. In the voluminous collected works of Scharry and Krause, Card and McDaniel, Archibald and Boring, there is scarcely an epithet which has not found print or a libel which has not been hurled at the head of the NFB's president.
In the face of this ceaseless drumfire of abuse and insult, the real question is not one of power but of powerlessness. The question is why the president, since he is powerless to prevent it, continues to endure such vilification. Surely the easy path, from any standpoint of personal convenience or peace of mind, would be to accede to the minority pressure and retire from the fight. Only a sense of responsibility to the Federation and its cause; only an appreciation of his obligation to the great majority of members who continue quietly to affirm their support; and only a recognition that to be driven from office by the abuse of a minority would mean the surrender of every democratic principle on which the Federation is founded--only these considerations can serve to answer that question. Although the president is powerless to halt this organized agitation, he does at least have the power--and the determination--to resist it.
No one has more thoroughly exposed and exploded this fantasy of the president's despotic power than George Card himself--in an article written last spring for publication in the Monitor (and never used simply because it seemed unnecessary). The title of Card's article--which now gains added pertinence in light of its author's present editorial career--was "Some Random Comments on the 'Free Press' and on Those Who Write for It and Give It Their Active Support." Here are a few of Card's comments:
"The Free Press characterizes the vote which followed the thirteen hours of free and open discussion at Santa Fe as 'rigged' and the election which took place the next day as a 'purge.' The inescapable implication is that every delegate who voted the 'wrong way' must have been either bribed or coerced. At least those are the only two ways I can think of by which the election could have been 'rigged.' And apparently the Free Press definition of a 'purge' is an election which results in the defeat of those candidates it had favored....
"It seems hopeless to try to figure out what these people mean when they talk or write about democracy. If the national conventions of the National Federation are not representative democracy in its purest form, then I have been mistaken all my life as to the meaning of that term.
"Just what is it that they want? Are they advocating a new formula for democratic procedure--to wit, that the policies of the NFB should be determined in accordance with the expressed will of whichever side casts the fewest votes? This is carrying absurdity to the ultimate but if 'Hope Inferred' is subjected to any sort of reasonable analysis the new formula would seem to be what emerges.
"According to the weird reasoning of its Editor and of some of the other writers who have conferred upon the Free Press the benefit of their amazing contributions, there is something highly culpable and reprehensible on the part of the present NFB president because he has won and kept the loyalty, the confidence and the faith of the great majority of Federation members.' He must employ some sort of black magic! They do not quite dare to challenge what everyone knows to be the truth--that he has given to the Federation twenty years of consecrated devotion, thousands of hours of gruelling, heartbreaking, exhausting toil--with never a thought of material advantage to himself. During that period he has had to deny himself many of the joys and satisfactions of normal family life. He has had to deprive himself of those precious leisure hours which he could otherwise have devoted to the scholarly pursuits of research and writing which he so dearly loves and for which he is so eminently-qualified. They know full well that he has given himself without stint but that, of course, counts for nothing in their estimation. It counts for nothing because he has done it through an insatiable lust for power. Ye Gods! Power over whom, may one venture to ask? It is very hard for me to realize that anyone who has the slightest knowledge of the history of the Federation to which he professes loyalty can believe, or be persuaded to believe, such fantastic nonsense."
Ye Gods! Power over whom, indeed?
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by Kenneth Jernigan
Everyone knows that the Free Press Association is made up of dedicated reformers. The Free Press would never have been established if its members could have received fair play and just treatment in the Federation. Despite slander and vilification by the tenBroek administration and others, the Free Press and its adherents practice democracy in its purest form. Let those who doubt the truth of this statement consider the following comparisons between the National Federation of the Blind (which everybody knows to be a notorious dictatorship) and the Free Press group:
The National Federation conventions are open meetings. Anyone may attend. Anyone may make tape recordings. Anyone may take notes. Anyone may speak on any issue, subject only to time limitations voted by the majority after discussion and debate. At the Miami convention of the Federation and at the Santa Fe convention in 1959 members of the Free Press group made tapes of the entire proceedings.
Compare with this the meetings Of the Free Press Association. At Nashville this year during the Labor Day weekend the Free Press leaders stopped people at the door and demanded to know what their sentiments were before they could enter the room. Now, wait! I know what you're thinking! Don't jump to conclusions. You can't call this undemocratic. You see, this was not a "meeting" It was simply a session of the Free Press held as a committee of the whole. Yes, I know that meetings of the resolutions committee and other committees of the Federation are open to all who wish to attend, but you just don't understand. A new organization has to protect itself against spies and tyrannical majorities. As I was saying, at the Free Press meeting in Nashville people were questioned at the door as to their loyalties and sentiments before they could enter. Permission was denied for anyone to make tape recordings. The president of the Federation requested the right to attend, either personally or by representative, but permission was denied.
During the Free Press meeting one person was caught taking notes. Mr. McDaniel immediately explained that no one could take notes except "the official note takers." Of course, these "official note takers" had not been elected by the group. One person who managed to get into the meeting and who said, when asked about her loyalties, that she hadn't made up her mind but had come to observe, was asked to leave the meeting. She did leave. In other words, the Free Press proved that it certainly practices what it preaches.
Also, consider the state get-togethers of the Free Press groups and of Federation groups. When Alma Murphey, president of the Missouri Federation, intended to play tapes in Kansas City after the Miami convention for the purpose of convincing people of the undemocratic character of the Federation, she tried to make it a closed meeting. Specifically, she tried to have John Taylor, NFB first vice president, thrown out. The majority of the Missourians present, however, had still not fully accepted the new era and failed to go along. Acting in accordance with the old-fashioned, dictatorial tenBroek practices, they voted to permit everyone to stay and participate in the meetings.
A few weeks later at St. Louis, Mrs. Murphey invited Durward McDaniel to sit in on her tape playing session for that part of the state, and there wasn't a single protest. She even "hired a hall," paying $25 for it out of Missouri Federation funds.
Now, stop interrupting! You persist in misunderstanding. The Free Press is too democratic.
What's the use of trying to tell you more? I could talk to you about the Georgia convention, where the tenBroek crowd was not allowed time to speak. Or I could tell you about the Tennessee convention, where Donald Capps, NFB second vice president and an invited guest, was hissed and booed by the Free Press group. Or I could even tell you about meetings of the Associated Blind of California (a Free Press group in that state), at which guards were stationed at the door and secret passwords like "eureka" were used to identify the faithful.
But what's the use? I can see already that you wouldn't understand. The Free Press is too democratic.
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With their strength augmented by the addition of George Card the minority faction continues to agitate in an attempt to discredit and overturn the decision of the Miami convention of the Federation to suspend six affiliates. That agitation has taken several forms and been on a variety of fronts:
Writing to Dr. tenBroek early in October, Dr. Gordon Slemons of Shreveport announced that the Louisiana Federation was officially giving up its charter and disaffiliating with the Federation. His letter was the kind of blustery, bitter document which might have been expected. According to Dr. Slemons the disaffiliation was an official action of the board of directors of the Louisiana affiliate taken after submitting the matter to local chapters.
George Card Campaigns in Alabama--Free Press Faction Loses at State Convention.
Although the Alabama Federation's constitution provides that in order to qualify for representation at the state convention the names and dues of all members must be submitted to the secretary by the end of September, such a minor technicality did not deter George Card. He spent the week prior to the October 15th convention campaigning in Alabama against the stand taken at the Miami convention by the Alabama delegation. He put together a hastily organized chapter in Anniston with Jack Lewis, a member of the suspended Georgia Federation, elected as its president, and arranged to have it seek admission to the state organization. When the Alabama Federation's board of directors considered the new chapter's application, Eulasee Hardenbergh expressed the belief that the Alabama Federation should abide by its constitution. In a belligerent tone accompanied by menacing actions and waving of the arms, Jack Lewis answered in such abusive terms that the police were called in.
On the floor of the convention Mr. Lewis admitted that the members of his chapter really knew nothing about the NFB controversy. Even so, they were voted as a block in support of the Card-McDaniel faction. Mr. Card's "constructive" activities were to no avail, however; for loyal Federationists were elected in every instance to the state offices, Eulasee Hardenbergh being chosen president.
George Card's Travels.
During the past month George Card traveled throughout the length and breadth of the land contacting individuals and speaking before state conventions to attack the Federation and its president. He appeared at the Missouri convention, where he made a bitter personal attack upon the Federation's president and worked with Alma Murphey to secure the passage of a resolution demanding the unconditional re-admission of the six suspended affiliates. The groundwork had been carefully laid, and the resolution passed by a substantial majority.
Mr. Card also appeared at the New Jersey convention and requested that he be permitted to come to Rhode Island to speak to that affiliate. This request was denied by President Antone Santos, who explained to Mr. Card that the Rhode Island Federation had just passed a resolution supporting the National Federation and its administration. It is reported that Mr. Card also attended a meeting of the Michigan Council of the Blind in an attempt to woo votes and plans to invade Arkansas prior to its convention in November.
Reports have reached the Monitor editor that the Illinois Federation of the Blind at its convention held on October 15th voted to suspend itself from the Federation and to serve notice to the national body that no more greeting cards should be mailed into Illinois after January 1, 1961. It is further reported that the Illinois Federation threatens to commence permanent disaffiliation and to bring legal action if the National Federation has not declared its intention of complying with the Illinois demand within thirty days after the January 1st deadline. This is simply one more example of the "constructive" activities which are now being carried on by the Card-McDaniel faction.
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by Kenneth Jernigan
Ever since the Boston convention the minority faction in the Federation has been claiming that it is not a revolution bent upon disrupting the Federation or destroying its goals but that it is simply a minority group legitimately expressing a different point of view in the traditions of democracy and self-government. It has compared itself to a political party in a free country. It has repeatedly asked, "What's wrong with having a two-party system? After all, that's democracy, isn't it?"
The great overwhelming majority of us in the Federation have said, on the other hand, that the Free Press group has simply not lived up to its professions. It is one thing to have different political parties in a democracy, but it is quite another to have a group leading a revolution by force with the avowed purpose of rule or ruin. No democratic organization or government can legitimately tolerate any political faction which seeks to overthrow the government by force.
The Free Press has sometimes sought to excuse its violence and its disruptive tactics on the grounds that it is not fighting the Federation but only the leadership of the Federation, that the tenBroek administration does not truly represent the members, and that the Free Press is determined to "liberate" the people. Also, the Free Press people have always publicly proclaimed that they were "true Federationists," as dedicated as any of the rest of us to promoting the announced goals of the NFB.
The August issue of the Free Press (which hit the mails in October) sets all of this controversy at rest. The faction has now taken off the mask and publicly admitted what was obvious all along.
First, consider these statements by George Fogarty which appear in the column "Letters to the Editor": "The time must come, ...when we will have to acknowledge that these are the acts of the Federation rather than of the tenBroek administration, for this they actually become... Whether we designate it as the tenBroek faction or the NFB seems of little consequence... So, why continue kidding ourselves by referring to the tenBroek administration when, to everyone else it will be looked upon for what it is, the action of the Federation."
Or consider these comments made by Bradley Burson of Illinois: "At the St. Louis meeting, I commented on the folly of talk about a 'new national organization of the blind' inasmuch as we already had it and that it only remained to nurture and develop it into a forceful and productive instrumentality.... On July 4, 1958, I unequivocally relegated the NFB leadership to the hopeless pile. At the Santa Fe convention the same disposal was made in my own mind of the organization itself.... Let us be done with feuding. Let those of us who wish to concern ourselves with personal vindictiveness and revenge concentrate on stirring up resistance to the NFB in our home organizations. Let us go to Kansas City and continue the brawl. Let us continue to disgrace the organized blind by continuing to acknowledge the shell of an organization.... Let us bury what is dead; let the decadent stew in its own juice. Whatever leadership ever existed within the NFB now resides in our ranks.... Let us found an organization that this undiscovered potential will seek, and let us concentrate on accomplishing these purposes."
Or consider these very revealing comments made by Earl Scharry in his article entitled "Out of the Hills": "For the past two years we have been guerrillas fighting a revolution in the hills of the Federation. It is time that we come out of the hills and embark upon a constructive program of action, rather than reaction." To this, one can only say amen. It is, indeed, time for the Free Press people to stop being guerrillas in the hills fighting a revolution. It is long past time for them to "embark upon a constructive program of action, rather than reaction." At this late date they deserve scant praise for finally being honest enough to admit the true nature of their so-called "reform."
Mr. Scharry has other things to say. In the second paragraph of his article we find this statement: "It is time that we come out of the hills into which tenBroek has led us and in which he still fights his ancient revolution with his outmoded weapons and his anachronistic battle cries. It is time we leave those hills behind us, shave off our beards, and face the new future with a new organization." The revolution which the Federation has been fighting may be "ancient"; our weapons maybe "outmoded"; and our battle cries "anachronistic," but Mr. Scharry will probably have a difficult time convincing the blind of the nation that the Hartke amendment was unnecessary. He may be surprised to find how few blind people agree with him that the battle cries for our right to organize bill, improvements in civil service for the blind, the elimination of residence requirements, the minimum wage for sheltered workshop workers, and the rest of our programs and goals are either "outmoded" or "anachronistic."
In case it should appear that Mr. Scharry really does not mean what he says, he drives his point home with these words concerning competitive employment: "This is at the same time the most challenging and the most illusive goal for which an organization of the blind should strive. Admittedly its attainment presents many baffling and heartrending problems. Their solution demands imagination and daring. Yet the tenBroek leadership has brought to it nothing but the petulant charge that realization of the goal of enlarged employment opportunities is thwarted by the stupidity of employers and the slothfulness of agencies. Instead of realistically coming to grips with the problem, they vehemently repeat the sterile assertion that the blind can do anything, but that the public obstinately refuses to accept this fact. They have been more interested in exploiting their supposed accomplishments than in devising new approaches."
Is competitive employment really an "illusive goal?" Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines the word illusive as "deceiving by false show; illusory; unreal." Is this really the way an organization of the blind should regard competitive employment? If Mr. Scharry said what he meant and if he spelled the word correctly, the Federation and the Free Press certainly do differ in the most basic and fundamental of all goals. We believe that competitive employment for the blind is by no stretch of the imagination illusive. The work of the Federation in opening Federal Civil Service to the blind, in securing opportunities in the field of telephone switchboard operation, and in a hundred other ways stands as a shining example of the practical nature of our goals and the correctness of our philosophy.
There are far too many articles in the August issue of the Braille Free Press for us to be able to analyze them all, but every blind person in the nation should read this magazine for himself and see what it really has to offer. Each blind person should make the determination as to whether we have misrepresented the Free Press. Each should determine for himself whether he wants the kind of "liberation," the kind of "democracy," and the kind of attitudes toward self-organization which the Free Press advocates. The editor of the Free Press announces that all may receive it. We urge that all of you accept his offer. The address is: Mr. Hollis Liggett, Editor, 3440 Farmville Road, Memphis 12, Tennessee.
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(Editor's note: The following letter, dated September 1, 1960, from Peter J. Salmon, executive director of the Industrial Home for the Blind, Brooklyn, will be of special interest to Federationists throughout the country-- especially so in view of some of the recent charges made by the minority faction in the Federation. In the Free Press and during the convention at Miami the minority charged that the Federation had accomplished nothing legislatively since the firing of A.L. Archibald in 1957. In fact it will be remembered that Archibald wrote a long article to this effect which was published in the Free Press. While the minority faction was spending all of its efforts and energies in a campaign of disruption, others were working constructively. The groundwork was being laid for the passage of one of the most significant pieces of legislation for the benefit of the blind ever adopted by the Congress. It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of the Hartke amendment. The sliding scale principle for exempt earnings which it embodies is a giant stride on the road from the Elizabethan poor laws to real social enlightenment. The part which the Federation played in securing this legislative triumph is recognized by all concerned. It will be interesting to see how the minority faction attempts to explain away Mr. Salmon's letter and telegram.)
'Mr. John F. Nagle
National Federation of the Blind
1908 Que Street, N. W.
Washington 9, D.C.
"I am attaching a copy of a telegram I have just sent to Senator Hartke, which is self-explanatory. "George Keane is at the A.AW.B, Convention in Miami, but I know I can speak for George as well as for myself when I tell you that this bill would never have been passed without the tremendous amount of work you and the Federation membership have put into it. You certainly deserve great credit, and I want to be sure to acknowledge this to you heartily.
"I hope the President will sign the bill. It represents a real step forward.
"Congratulations and best wishes.
Cordially, Peter J. Salmon
"Senator Vance Hartke
Senate Office Building
"You have rendered a great service to blind persons by introducing and pressing to completion your bill giving certain exemptions to employable blind persons. We hope indeed that the President will sign this bill. Please accept our appreciation for getting your bill through even in this turbulent session of Congress.
Peter J. Salmon, Chairman
Joint Legislative Committee
Greater New York Council
of Agencies for the Blind
New York State Federation
of Workers for the Blind"
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"October First, 1960
"Certainly my feeling of warm personal friendship for you could never be lessened because of organizational issues. As I have said before and all occasions, you are always welcome.
"It is true that I have not been very enthusiastic about attending a meeting for propaganda purposes, as I personally feel that talks against the administration could only do more harm than good both to the NFB cause and to our own group.
"You see, I am for Dr. tenBroek because I still believe that he is the greatest leader of the blind in our time. This may be an illusion, an over confidence but the facts as I see them warrant that conclusion. I know of nobody in the rebel group who could take his place. He has the intelligence, the personality and the very necessary large capacity on all levels which few individuals possess. I am perfectly willing to grant that he has human faults, that he can be mistaken, and we all realize that. But I do not agree with the rebel doctrine of hate that 'tenBroek Must Go.' I regret to hear that you too have been preaching that text.
"This seems so strange to me because you also were their target. It was said that you were paid out of illegal funds, as you recall and by the dictatorial hand of Chick himself. Your policy in the Monitor was castigated and was partly responsible for the Free Press itself where they could go to town on both you and the administration.
"We could not tolerate an organization within an organization and suspended six states until they promised to go along. I am not of the opinion that we should accept them back unconditionally simply because they demand it regardless of the thinking of the rest of us. Their whole approach as a minority was and is intolerant, persistent, and malicious. Their threat to form a new organization unless we the majority surrender to their proposals is nothing new to me.
"It is perfectly true that I personally had hoped that now they are out, we would settle down to a more liberal reorganization and remove what might appear to be threats on the other side. It would appear to me to be the wiser part of statesmanship, and I still think it is likely.
"So far as we in Michigan are concerned we have no personal enemies in the NFB. We have received much assistance all around and it has put our organization on the map in a real way. Kenneth Jernigan has been here and gave a wonderful address which few of the blind who attended will forget. He has made many suggestions. His friendship with both the organization and personally with me has been quite sound. Chick has taken a personal interest in our program and has always been amenable to discussion. In my letters to Chick, I have often been critical and never hesitated to say what I think, even about the change in the editorship of the Monitor which I still think was premature. However, I have no reason to condemn Kenneth's work before it has a chance to survive.
"There are things which I do not like. But that is no reason why I should espouse the cause of the rebels. I have no hatreds and do not wish to cultivate any.
"I have also put in a lot of time and effort. I have sacrificed time and effort for the past eleven years. I can say with pride that it has not been in vain. Many others including many capable individuals have also put in their efforts with me, and I am fortunate in never having to work alone. We have deliberately tried to keep our state free from controversy in the NFB. I would hate to see it all undone for the cause which is political in the extreme. I do not believe that you will get a majority to go along with you, but I do think the rebels are using you to good advantage. The result may very well be that you will only divide the groups further. In my opinion, the rebels have always hoped to walk out of a convention and carry as many as possible with them. Suppose they had formed a new group without your advice? Would it not have remained small and insignificant?
"I am not acquainted with politics in the NFB as you are, and perhaps I am much happier that way. But it seems to me that the NFB has done a lot this year with some success on the legislative front and a very good meeting of minds at the last convention over issues which are of much greater importance than whether or not we have a dictator or other scoundrels. The only charge I can find against tenBroek is that he governs the roost with an iron hand. There is nothing said about his program, his position, his ability to cope with people on all levels. I am quite aware that in one year Alma Murphey is the queen of the ranch, and in another, it is George Card, or Kletzing; who is greatly overated, and I also know that perhaps the members of the Board mean little or nothing which is one reason I was not anxious to waste my time there. But we have failed only among ourselves in perpetuating threats and terror on both sides. Suppose the rebels do succeed? What kind of an organization would we have with political pull on all sides rampant and mediocre leadership.
"No George. I think we should be left alone to make our own decisions. If the NFB is as bad as you suggest, it is in the end bound to fall of its own imponderables. If more affiliates are cast out, and if little consideration is given to putting our house in order on a sane basis, the end will not be far to seek. In the meantime, we should not jump from the frying pan into the fire. I think things are more serious than is realized but if compromises can save the day it should be with principles and not with personalities.
"You think differently because you are or seem to be personally involved, which I can understand, but we have to think objectively and in terms of the greatest good not only for the NFB, but for our affiliates and our program. We stand to lose too much in those matters which mean a better life for the blind in our state. So why expose us to the turmoil?
Very sincerely yours,
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by M. Robert Barnett
Executive Director, American Foundation for the Blind
(Editor's note: The following article appeared in the June, 1960, issue of Listen, published by the Catholic Guild for the Blind of Boston. It will be of interest to Monitor readers for more reasons than one. The principal feature of the legislation referred to by Mr. Barnett did not die "without action when the Congress" adjourned but was adopted as the Hartke amendment. At this critical state in the development of programs affecting the blind the issues raised by Mr. Barnett deserve consideration and analysis.)
"...Special legislation permitting some individuals to receive benefits under conditions identical to those under which benefits are denied to others is, in our opinion, undesirable and contrary to sound principles of equity and justice..."
The foregoing statement reads as though it might have been taken from the writings of some sociological philosopher--and, for that matter, perhaps the individual who wrote it is such a one. It must be reported, however, that it was taken not from some weighty volume of past or present social philosophy, but rather from a simple letter. The statement and the letter were part of an exchange between federal administrators and the federal Congress, and in them there is considerable food for thought for all of us in the field of service to blind persons.
This report is written without bias, it is hoped. It is not the intent to argue the pros and cons of current legislation, but rather to show what may be happening to the attitudes of legislators about blindness and to assist us all in attempting to determine whether the trend is good or bad.
The specific letter quoted above--with excerpts to follow--was written over the signature of Arthur S. Flemming, Secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, as a report of administrative opinion to a committee of the House of Representatives with regard to a bill which would have liberalized benefits for blinded persons under the disability feature of the Social Security Act. In effect, as a result both of that letter and of many other complicating factors, that bill probably will have died without action when Congress adjourns. Regardless of our reactions to the specific legislation itself and its fate, we ought to consider the very remarkable statements that the administration made--undoubtedly with sincere belief in their truth.
"...Our major objection to the bill is that it would give persons with visual impairments very great advantages over other persons with equally severe impairments of another type. Blindness is no more disabling insofar as work is concerned than many other severe types of impairment. As a matter of fact, many blind persons have demonstrated the ability to earn a living in spite of their impairment and much is being done through both public and private means to encourage and aid the blind to be self-supporting..."
The dilemma of our field is here presented to us again in a very succinct fashion. For years, many of us have felt that there was something inconsistent in our arguments concerning the social and economic acceptability of blind persons--their normalcy, if you please--while on the other hand we have argued for, and have secured preferential benefits or services on the basis that blindness somehow automatically makes a person subnormal. As long as this possible contradiction had to do only with the comparison of blind persons with non-handicapped sighted persons, it was not too difficult to straddle both horns of it on the argument that such benefits simply equalize the contest, and that with the help thus provided, blind persons can and do lead "normal" lives.
The issue that is confronting us in the recent Congress and also in our professional planning throughout the land is now quite different--it is the issue of whether blindness is any more disabling than many other physical conditions. This country has seen within the past few years a breath-taking growth of the concept of assistance, insurance, and rehabilitation for millions of individuals with various disabilities, constituting in the social welfare field a boom which predictably has not yet reached its peak.
Consider the fact that again this year we are faced with the question of whether the categorical approach for the purpose of administration of public assistance is sound, effective and fair. It is generally known that the present administration has spoken out with a philosophy that is shared by many who are not the administration and which states that there is a real question about the value of categorical aid. Political skirmishes will be avoided, of course, through the simple process of leaving such decisions to the states, but the predictable removal of categorical requirement in federal law will have a tremendous effect upon state programs.
In addition to benefiting from the existing categorical program for blind persons in public assistance, blind persons have enjoyed the special provision that they may earn a certain sum of money each month without deduction from their grant. Many of us in this field have been trying to secure an even more liberal provision--again only for the blind. Practically all welfare administrators are hostile to the existing program, and it is, therefore, not surprising that the effort to extend it has met with failure.
In a letter which he wrote to associational backers, Congressman Cecil R. King said in part, "...I regret to report that the Department officials continue in their strong opposition to this bill. I questioned these officials extensively as to the basis for their opposition, and it appears that they do not approve the bill because they contend it would create a pension program for the blind, would have great implications with regard to the other titles of the Social Security Act (in terms of a precedent), would not in fact achieve the objective sought, and would have considerable cost implications, and other reasons too numerous to enumerate here. Needless to say, I do not agree with their opinions. ...In addition, they stressed the fact that any further step in this program would raise implications of considerable consequences for all of the other programs under the public assistance titles. ...It would be futile to push the bill further at this time in the face of that opposition. ..."
Do these expressions really convey anything new? There are those who might say that opposition of administrators is certainly not new, and that everything gained in our field has been through a fight. Again, however, there does seem to be something new in this year's opposition since it is based so completely upon the refusal further to separate out blind persons while at the same time our country is striving to assist all disabled people more effectively than ever before. Perhaps this year really will be seen in retrospect by social historians as the turning point of special legislation for blind people in areas of assistance and insurance. Our protestations and demonstrations of normalcy might almost be a boomerang if the concept of blind people as only one small group of the disabled is judged to be harmful.
On the other hand, the Australian aborigines who invented the boomerang as a weapon for hunting were also very proficient in its use, and the boomerang in their case served them well. It is for us in this field, whether we agree or disagree with the trend, to be come more skillful in seeing to it that the rapidly growing services for all people do in fact as well as in theory include the blind.
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by Dr. Jacobus tenBroek
President, National Federation of the Blind
"...Special legislation permitting some individuals to receive benefits under conditions identical to those under which benefits are denied to others is, in our opinion, undesirable and contrary to sound principles of equity and justice. ..."
This quotation appears at the head of the regular editorial column by the Executive Director of the American Foundation for the Blind, M. Robert Barnett, in the June, 1960, issue of Listen. The quotation is subsequently identified as part of a longer communication recently sent to Congress by Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Arthur Flemming in opposition to pending bills designed to liberalize provisions for the blind under the Social Security program. The editorialist goes on to quote Secretary Flemming further to the effect that the proposed legislation (mainly embodied in the bill introduced by Congressman Cecil R. King of California) would give to the blind "very great advantages" over other handicapped groups not so aided, and that "blindness is no more disabling insofar as work is concerned than many other severe types of impairment."
These observations, according to Mr. Barnett, present "the dilemma of our field... in a very succinct fashion." That "dilemma," it soon appears, consists largely of the well-worn charge that the blind cannot injustice claim that they are "normal" while pressing for special programs "on the basis that blindness somehow automatically makes a person subnormal." In addition, another (equally familiar) "issue" has now been added by Listen's editorialist: i.e., "the issue of whether blindness is any more disabling than many other physical conditions." The implication is plain that, if in fact blindness is not more disabling than many other physical conditions, it becomes a question whether the system of separate aid categories--and, indeed, the whole principle of special provision for handicapped groups--should be abolished in favor of blanket treatment of all recipient groups.
No one is likely to disagree with the platitude that it would be undesirable and unjust for "some individuals to receive benefits under conditions identical to those under which benefits are denied to others."
Presumably, however, neither Secretary Flemming nor Mr. Barnett would maintain that it is unjust or undesirable for some individuals to receive specialized services under conditions distinctively different from those of other individuals. If the pertinent "conditions" imposed by blindness--social, economic, psychological, and so on--are not "identical" to those of other disabled groups, then the Secretary's principle, while still unexceptionable, is simply irrelevant. In a moment I shall try to show that this is in fact the case.
But suppose we grant, for argument's sake, that the enunciated principle is perfectly relevant and should be guiding. Does it follow that the blind are undeserving of the services which they now receive under Aid to the Blind, and should forthwith cease their efforts to liberalize and further improve them? Does it follow, to take a specific example suggestively raised by Mr. Barnett, that blind recipients should not receive an exemption of earned income, of any amount, under public assistance? Surely, if this is what the Secretary's principle entails, its consequence can only be to cut back and dismantle all that has been gained over the past generation in public aid and rehabilitation of the blind, so long as there are any other handicapped groups to whom these services have not been made equally available.
But is this what the Secretary's principle necessarily entails? Suppose we put his statement, which now sounds so restrictive, the other way around: viz, "No individuals should be denied benefits under conditions identical to those under which benefits are received by others." Stated in this affirmative and equalizing form, the principle of equity and justice remains intact but the focus of attention has been significantly altered. It is not the provision of aids to the blind which is seen to be unjust and undesirable, but the denial of similar services to others of the severely handicapped who can be demonstrated to need and deserve them. Such a policy of denial and exclusion is not, and has never been, supported by the organized blind; on the contrary, the National Federation has actively pressed for the extension to other categories of the relevant features of the King bill and related legislation. It is, however, widely recognized by such other groups that the best service that we of the organized blind can perform for all the physically handicapped is to get our own programs enacted. The simple fact that blind recipients have established their right to these services has been shown to be the most effective possible argument with legislators for extending them to others of the severely disabled--as in my own state of California, where liberalized Aid to the Blind provisions have furnished the precedent for substantial and continuing improvement of that state's permanently and totally disabled program.
Oddly enough, both the opponents and proponents of improvements in Aid to the Blind are in complete accord on one point: that reforms in this category are a bellwether for the entire range of public assistance categories. Not long ago a national organization of workers for the blind rested its hostile case against the Kennedy-Baring bill (granting the blind the right to organize and to be consulted) principally on the ground that it would set a dangerous precedent for other handicapped and deprived citizen groups to follow. This warning has since reverberated through the testimony of certain administrative and custodial agencies at virtually every congressional hearing in which proposals to improve blind-aid services have been discussed. Nothing could convey more clearly the apprehension of these officials that their favorite charge of inequity and injustice among the categories may be on the way to losing its substance. Indeed, nothing more graphically exposes the inconsistency of their position; on one hand a vocal concern for fairness and justice to all the handicapped; on the other hand a pervasive fear that others of the disabled may soon come to demand (and even to receive) what is rightly theirs.
It is, however, one thing to say that numbers of the severely handicapped may have unmet needs equivalent or parallel to those of the blind. It is quite another thing to say that the characteristics of all these varying disabilities, and the conditions which they impose, are "identical." The only significant condition shared by all the millions of the severely handicapped is the existence of some form of disability. What else, besides this elementary datum, does the victim of muscular dystrophy have in common with the blind person? What other needs and problems does the double amputee share with the mentally retarded? Surely, at this level, it is not sheer prejudice to seek to distinguish among these grossly disparate forms of impairment; rather, prejudice would seem to lie in the all-too-easy and evasive device of merging all who are physically deprived within a common rubric and casting their lot together.
We cannot too often be reminded that it is no less an injustice to the blind to regard them as possessing no common and distinctive characteristics whatsoever than it is to regard them as in all respects different from others. Although blindness by itself means only the loss of sight, the social and economic consequences to the blind person--and in particular his rehabilitative needs--create an environmental handicap demonstrably distinct from that faced by any others. This is not at all to argue that the handicap of the blind person is more "severe" than that of numerous others; on the contrary, it is far less severe than numerous others by any standard of judgment. Nor is it to maintain that there are not significant similarities and equivalences, at various points, among their respective needs and problems; it should be incontestable, as I have argued above, that where such parallel needs exist parallel services should be provided. But insofar as the conditions and limitations faced by the blind are found to be particular or unique, then particular and specialized resources are required to meet and overcome them.
On this point I should like to put a question to Mr. Barnett. How does he justify the existence of a separate, distinct, and highly specialized agency limited exclusively to the provision of services for the blind--such an agency, for example, as the American Foundation for the Blind? Why should this agency not be expanded to embrace the lame and the halt as well as the blind (under the more just and equitable title of the "American Foundation for All the Handicapped")? Or, alternatively, why should it not be abolished as failing to provide uniform services to all the disabled? If the question were put to me, I should argue in defense of the Foundation that it has wisely chosen to concentrate upon those problems which are peculiar to blindness and the blind, and that it has quite enough to do in this specialized sphere without attempting to handle other and different problems as well . Nor would I consider it responsible criticism to assert that the Director of the Foundation should not speak of the essential normality and competence of his blind clients while at the same time furnishing them services on a segregated and exclusive basis.
But I do consider it relevant to recognize that the categorical program of Aid to the Blind under public assistance is no more categorical or exclusive than the benefits and services of the American Foundation for the Blind. If it is proper to dissolve the one in favor of an overall category of physical disability, then it is proper to dissolve the other as well. I should be as emphatically opposed to the dissolution of the AFB and its merger within a league of the physically handicapped as I am opposed to the elimination of categorical Aid to the Blind. Blind people have a legitimate need for such a specialized agency as the American Foundation. They have a no less legitimate need for such a specialized program as that of Aid to the Blind under the federal-state program of Social Security.
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From Nashville, Tennessee, Bureau: "Nashville, Aug. 15--The state revealed Monday that water damage to buildings at the Tennessee School for the Blind has become so extensive emergency funds will be used to finance massive repairs.
"The final bill could run as high as $750,000.
"About 170 boys and girls are expected to enter the institution for the school year beginning Sept. 5. Some of them will have to 'double up' in order to have a dry room to sleep in.
" 'It's one big mess,' said state architect Clayton Dekle. 'I've never seen anything like it in my life.'
"Gov. Buford Ellington's comments were similar. He was clearly shocked after he made a visit last Friday to the school at nearby Donelson.
"The roofs of about a half dozen of the eight school buildings have leaked so heavily that plaster is falling off the walls.
"In at least one, floors have been damaged to the point where tile is coming loose. In the boys' dormitory, a large can rests in the middle of a downstairs room to catch water as it comes through the ceiling.
"Roofs themselves are spongy in places; insulation beneath them is soaked. Venetian blinds in some rooms have fallen as plaster collapsed. A few brick walls have buckled and moved, Mr. Dekle said, and 'you can put your hand in between some mortar joints.
"School Supt. Eugene Wood said a tarpaulin was spread on one roof with the hope it would stop the leaking. It didn't. Outside walls are cracking and some bricks and stones look as if they are about to fall out.
"Mr. Wood says the buildings have been leaking to some extent since he came to the school seven years ago. The trouble has grown progressively worse.
"No one has attempted to place any blame up to now. The buildings were completed in 1952--during the last administration of Gov. Gordon Browning--at a cost of nearly $3,500,000.
"Architects for the job were Marr & Holman. Rock City Construction Co., the firm that renovated the state Capitol recently, contracted the project. Both are Nashville concerns.
"Since early this year, the state has been at work on the school's administration building, tearing down walls to the tops of windows and rebuilding them. The job so far has cost about $80,000.
"The situation at the school has been brought to the attention of the original architectural and contracting firms, Mr. Dekle said, but so far nothing has been heard from them. The matter of legal liability has been turned over to the state attorney general.
"At the time the buildings were constructed, officials say, the Building Commission had no inspectors to look over work being done for the state. ..."
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Three hundred people attended the banquet and all sessions were crowded at the seventh annual convention of the Associated Blind of Massachusetts, held September 24 and 25, in the famous shoe city of Brockton. There was a panel discussion by blind practitioners of unusual occupations--minister and seminary teacher, electronic "brain" specialist, and manager of salary analysis for an insurance company; the Honorable William E. Powers, blind Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, delivered an address, as did Dr. Isadore Scherer of the Massachusetts Division of the Blind; John Nagle gave a report on recent developments in disability insurance; and Dr. Garrett Sullivan discussed "The History and Progress of the Massachusetts Eye Bank." A new chapter was accepted, the Greater Fall River Associated Blind, with a membership of 42 persons. Outstanding work was done by the convention publicity chairman, Mr. Manuel Rubin. At the conclusion of the convention John McMorrow, 81 year old president of the Brockton chapter, said: "This is the best project we have ever run.... We have already acquired 14 new members as the result of...it."
The convention of the Missouri Federation of the Blind was held in Joplin on October 15 and 16. The constitution was amended to provide that voting will be done by individual members rather than by chapter delegates. Mrs. Alma Murphey was elected to another two-year term as president. A new chapter, the Benevolent Workers of the Blind, Kansas City (president Doris Miller), was admitted, giving the Missouri Federation twelve chapters. The convention was attended by Kenneth Jernigan, Monitor editor, and by George Card.
The convention of the State Council of New Jersey Organizations of the Blind was held at the Roger Smith Hotel in New Brunswick, October 8 and 9. There was real cause for jubilation. President George Burck had just been appointed as a member of the Board of Managers of the New Jersey Commission for the Blind. This appointment resulted from an act of the legislature sponsored by the blind of New Jersey earlier this year providing that at least two of the seven members of the Board of Managers of the Commission for the Blind be blind persons. George Burck was reelected president. The 1961 convention will be held in Camden. John Nagle of the Washington office attended the entire convention and was a featured speaker at the banquet which was attended by 217 people.
The New Hampshire Federation of the Blind held its convention at Nashua on Saturday, October 8. Members from a number of other New England state affiliates were on hand for the occasion. Dr. tenBroek; Anita O'Shea, president of the Massachusetts affiliate; and New Hampshire Welfare Commissioner Barry participated in a panel discussion concerning the New Hampshire survey, during which Mr. Barry indicated support for many of the recommendations. Dr. Waterhouse, superintendent of the Perkins Institute for the Blind, was present. Franklin VanVliet was reelected president.
The Indiana Council of the Blind held its convention at the Severn Hotel at Indianapolis on October 8 and 9. The convention was well attended, and two new chapters were admitted: The Cass County Blind Association of Logansport, John Mader president; and the Vanderberg County Council of the Blind, Evansville, William Causey president. This was not an election year, but a constitutional amendment provided for the separation of the offices of secretary and treasurer. Ray Dinsmore was elected secretary and John Ramsey treasurer. Ray Dinsmore gave a comprehensive address on the history of national legislation for the blind, and Kenneth Jernigan was the featured speaker at the banquet.
The Alabama Federation of the Blind held its convention at Mobile on October 15 and 16. Eulasee Hardenbergh, who was elected to the NFB executive committee at Miami, was chosen as president over the violent opposition of the Free Press element in the state spurred on by George Card, who was in Alabama for several days prior to the convention. All of the officers elected were loyal Federationists, violently opposed by the Free Press group. A panel discussion on the education of blind children at the Alabama School for the Blind was conducted by teachers from the school, and the organization voted to give $100 to the school to help purchase a copy of the new Braille encyclopedia being published by the American Printing House for the Blind. John Taylor was in attendance as NFB representative.
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From the Palmetto Auroran (South Carolina): "A significant anniversary occurred on June 29  as it was exactly one year ago on this date that Miss Lois Boltin became the first blind braille switchboard operator in the state of South Carolina. It was June 29, 1959, when Lois went to work at Kohn's Inc. in Columbia.... We are now happy to add even an additional chapter to the Lois Boltin Story which has echoed throughout the breadth of the land. Because of the completely satisfactory and competent manner in which Lois has performed her switchboard duties, she was recently rewarded by being given a 10% salary increase.... Many prospective shoppers visiting Kohn's Inc. frequently wind up being admirers of Lois.... Lois will quickly tell you that it was the Aurora Club which stood alone in giving her the encouragement and moral support as well as limited financial assistance needed in this pursuit. ..."
The following newspaper clipping from the Minneapolis Star and Tribune was sent to the Monitor editor by Andrew A. Rood, president of the United Blind of Minnesota in a letter dated September 8: "Ex-employee of society for blind indicted in theft. A former employee of the Minneapolis Society for the Blind was indicted for first degree grand larceny Tuesday by the Hennepin county grand jury in the theft of several thousand dollars of society funds. Russell Oberg, 4055 NE Madison St., Columbia Heights, is expected to be taken into custody today. He was discharged as head bookkeeper last fall after a routine audit revealed a $30,000 loss over several years. The society, 1936 S. Lyndale Ave., reported that full restitution had been made. The indictment returned yesterday was for alleged thefts during a six-month period in 1958. The exact amount was not learned.... It was reported that the Hennepin county attorney's office started an investigation in the Society for the Blind thefts last April after receiving a complaint from an unidentified woman. George Scott, county attorney, subpoened society invoices, ledgers and other financial records to present the case to the grand jury yesterday, it was learned. The $30,000 theft was reported by the Minneapolis Tribune when society officials first disclosed the loss in January. Oberg was bonded for $150,000. Lyman Beardsley, attorney for the society, said...that the bonding company had covered the loss of society funds. Oberg made restitution to the bonding company, Beardsley said, by selling or putting liens on his home, lake cottage, boats and other property."
The Library of Congress is sponsoring a meeting of all regional librarians for the blind to be held in Washington, D.C., November 13-16. This is the first meeting of its type ever to be called. According to Mr. Robert Bray, chief of the Division for the Blind of the Library of Congress, it should result in improved and better coordinated library service to the nation's blind.
On July 22, 1960, the Columbia chapter of the NFB's South Carolina affiliate received the deed to the lot on which it plans to erect a new recreation and education center for the blind of the area. NFB second vice president, Don Capps, reports in the Palmetto Auroran: "...The stage was now set for the members of the Columbia chapter to begin their drive for building materials and funds.... The campaign was officially launched Sunday, August 14, at the chapter's regular monthly meeting.... All solicitations will be done privately and primarily through appointments with business establishments and friends.... The center will have a floor space of 1836 square feet. It will contain four principal rooms--a meeting room, a living room or lounge (including a Braille library), an office, and a kitchen. ..."
The Royal National Institute for the Blind has released its 1960 Catalogue Supplement. According to the Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind, October 1960, there are two items of particular interest in it--a vest pocket notebook and self-adhesive metal foil labels. The three-ring, morocco leather notebook holds 25 pieces of manila paper 2-1/2 by 3-5/8 inches. The notebook itself is 2-7/8 by 4-3/8 inches. The catalogue number which must accompany every order is 9103. The self-adhesive metal foil labels can easily be embossed and affixed to metal or glass containers for identification. The metal foil labels are sold in three sizes. The sizes and catalogue numbers are: 1 by 2 inches, 940 0; 2 by 3 inches, 9401; and 12 by 1-1/4 inches, 9402. For prices and percentage rates, write to the Royal National Institute for the Blind, 224 Great Portland Street, London, England.
From New Outlook, October 1960: Dr. Everett E. Wilcox, superintendent of the Oregon State School for the Blind since 1956, joined the staff of the American Foundation for the Blind as program specialist in education and educational aids.
The Library of Congress is expanding its program of recording books on tape by volunteers. Such a master tape costs approximately $10.00 and can be reproduced very quickly. A talking book on vinyl disk takes three months to prepare and costs about $2000. After a volunteer has passed the Library's voice test, the Library will provide the necessary tapes, the books to be recorded and will arrange for the copyright permission to record the books. Copies of these tape recorded books are sent to each of the 31 regional libraries as it indicates its ability to handle the new program.
One of the most recent large groups of volunteers to join the program is the national speech sorority, Zeta Phi Eta, which will enroll its members across the country in the recording program. The Library has received approximately 100 titles on tape from volunteers during the past year.
Other improvements reported by the Library were: "...reading material for the nation's blind was increased during the year to 390 talking book titles and 272 press Braille titles, approximately one-third more talking books and one-fourth more Braille titles than were processed last year. More than 500 titles of hand copied Braille books were added.... There were 6,500 new talking book machines manufactured, and more than 13,000 units were repaired and returned to service. Work was begun on 500 battery-operated, transistorized units for use of blind readers in rural areas without regular electricity; and a contract was awarded for the construction of two prototype tape recorder reproducers especially designed for the talking book program.... Five hundred and forty-four new Braillists were certified during the year.... New regional libraries for the blind were established in Raleigh, North Carolina, Richmond, Virginia, Des Moines, Iowa, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, while Nevada has established its own talking book machine-lending agency."
"The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation has awarded Georgetown University a grant for research for a course to develop methods for training blind persons as Russian language translators and radio monitors. Upon completion of the course, qualified students will be considered for employment by the Central Intelligence Agency. The first class will have fifteen students and state rehabilitation agencies are asked to nominate additional persons to take the course."
"Finus E. Davis, vice-president and general manager of the American Printing House for the Blind, was [recently] elected forty-fourth president of Lions International. He will serve a two year term."
From the Weekly News, September 26,1960: "The osteopathic profession is now definitely closed to the blind, since visual education is occupying an increasing role of importance by State Boards for Licensure in the various states, now requiring identification of slides, X-ray plates, electrocardiograms, etc. Manpower, a radio program sponsored by the American Foundation for the Blind, interviewing Dr. Erwin I. Schindler, osteopathic physician, is a success story in the osteopathic field of endeavor and not publicity to the blind as an educational opportunity at present. Therefore, direct communication with the American Foundation for the Blind, Dr. Schindler, or any of the six osteopathic colleges, is hereby obviated by this notice."
Antone Santos, president of the Rhode Island Federation, reports that on September 17 a resolution was adopted expressing full and complete confidence in Dr. tenBroek and his administration and endorsing the action of the Miami convention in suspending the six affiliates.
The New England Seminar was held at Nashua, New Hampshire, on October 9 with Dr. tenBroek in attendance. Delegates were present from Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine and Vermont. A strongly worded resolution supporting the Federation and its administration was unanimously adopted.
Beginning with the October issue, the Library of Congress is printing in Braille the science fiction magazine Galaxy. The Brailling and binding are being done at the Clovernook Printing House for the Blind, and the magazine (like the Reader's Digest ) is in four Braille volumes. Those interested in receiving the magazine should contact the Library of Congress or their regional library.
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From Harry Wells, Seattle, Washington (Editor's note: In the following excerpts from a letter to Dr. tenBroek, Mr. Wells, a loyal Federationist from the state of Washington, states the situation perhaps better than anyone else has. Free Pressers take note.): "...I grew up in the rather sparsely settled parts of Montana and sometimes when these battles among the blind are going on I often think how quiet and peaceful it was there. All a fellow had to contend with was the rattle snakes that seen fit to invade his house or cabin and he would have to grab a hoe or club and change their minds about that. Sometimes he would have to take the trusty rifle and shoot a few pesky coyotes that were intent upon the destruction of one's chickens or turkeys. And often in the month of February when the range cows were heavy with calf we would get up in the middle of the night in order to be out where the cattle might be by four a.m. to sort of discourage the wolf pack that liked to strike at about that hour of the winter morning and kill off from three to a dozen head which loss an ordinary cattleman could not often stand.
"Then sometimes a fellow would have to engage in rather drastic exercise with some chap that craved to try out his fists on your nose and sort of discolor one's eyes. And on some occasions some trigger happy varmint would get ideas of ridding the range of some folks and then you would have to do something about that. Nice and quiet and peaceful like.
"But what happens? I get myself over here in a very densely populated area and supposed to be in a very highly' civilized country and where one would expect to find nothing but peace and good will just oozing everywhere and great pails of 'the milk of human kindness sitting around on every table. But no,--just nothing but battles of the bare knuckle, knock down and drag out variety and sometimes when one returns home bloody but triumphant to anoint himself with Political Arnica or anything else that will help him to gird his loins for the next fray and hope for at least an even break--one catches himself yearning for the gentlemanly companionship of horse theives, cattle rustlers and other gentle folk....
"Good luck to you in your battles, Sir. ..."
From Mr. Emmett Walsh, Box 234, Pine City, Minnesota (Editor's note: May I urge all of the blind teachers of public school classes who are readers of the Monitor to send material to Mr. Walsh as he requests in the following letter. I have had a great deal of correspondence with him and am convinced that he will soon be employed again as a full-time teacher.): "I was the school librarian at Pine City, Minnesota, until three years ago this summer when I became totally blind as a result of an unsuccessful operation for detached retina. Since then I have been attempting to return to the profession as a teacher. I have had letters from several people in California and one in the state of Washington and a few others who are blind and are now teaching the sighted students in regular schools.
"I completed the training course at the Minneapolis center and now read anything in grade two Braille, type my own letters, and get around with a cane....
"I believe that I did a successful job of practice teaching in a class in 11th grade world history here at Pine City last February. At least, I am convinced that a blind man can teach the sighted and do it effectively. Now the public must be convinced that this can be done. It must be remembered that school administrators are under pressure from the public and no matter how well they may be satisfied that a blind person can teach, these administrators are subject to criticism from the parents of the children they serve. Then too, prejudices which are 'aged in the wood' (some people are blockheaded). Consequently it takes a lot of convincing sometimes to counteract the prejudices and dispel the fears. So, I have decided to do something about it. Here is my plan. Contact these teachers who are now teaching in the public schools and with their permission get them to write a statement of their experiences, substantiated by sighted people, and publish these in a brochure to be distributed to schools, chambers of commerce, PTA's, study clubs, lodges, church groups, etc.
"An announcement in the Monitor might serve to invite these teachers to write to me here in Pine City. I will be glad to spend some time in preparing a brochure of this kind and by some means fair or foul get it into print so that the public can be made aware--very aware of the capabilities of the blind in the teaching field....
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