Mary Church Terrell

Talk for Community Chest over Radio in Washington, D.C. - 26 January 1929

Mary Church Terrell
January 26, 1929— Washington, D.C.
Print friendly

Talk for Community Chest over Radio in Washington, D.C.

Jan. 26, 1929.

It seems too good to be true that we have at last adopted the Community Chest in Washington. We all know that there are welfare and other institutions in our midst which need help. It would be an unwarranted reflection upon the intelligence of a Radio audience to waste any time to prove that.

When an individual or a city needs anything the sensible thing to do is to [st]udy the best way to get it. And that is precisely what those have done who have formulated the methods used by the Community Chest. They have worked out [a] plan whereby institutions which can qualify for membership may get what they need to enable them to function properly in the quickest, easiest way for every body concerned.

In the old way residents here who tried to discharge the duties of citizenship had to contribute to the various organizations which applied for aid whenever the time came for them to solicit funds. For many months, therefore, in the good old days it was a sort of continuous, civic performance with three or four rings all going at once. One had no sooner finished buying tickets or making pledges to help tide one deserving institution over a rough place than another equally worthy of consideration and support was holding out its waiting hand. But now it is possible to give to all the organizations included in the Community Chest at one time. Thus a great deal of time and strength for both solicitor and solicited is saved.

Another beautiful feature of the Community Chest is that the plan adopted by it enables us all to give to all the organizations with which it is concerned without regard to one’s standing in the financial world. It doesn’t matter how we stand with Bradstreet at all. Nobody is left out. The widow may contribute her mite and the millionaire may write his big, fat check with three or four or more ciphers at the end with equal joy and ease. There is a sort of added zest in giving when we know that all good of citizens are doing the same commendable thing at the same time. That’s where our human nature crops out.

As a colored woman the Community Chest appeals strongly to me personally because it enables people of all races and religions to help each other without thinking about their differences in color or creed. While among the 57 varieties of agencies included in the Community Chest only two are managed exclusively by my group, more than half of them are active in its service. All of them are doing an excellent work to promote the welfare of the people of this city. But there is none which is rendering a greater service than either the Y.W.C.A. or the Y.M.C.A. both of which are ministering to the mental and moral and spiritual needs of colored youth. If anything should happen to close the doors of either one of these institutions the effect upon the young people of a group which comprises nearly one third of the population of the National Capital would be to deplorable and disastrous indeed.

In common with other residents of Washington colored people are realizing the responsibilities devolving upon them as citizens more and more every day. They are striving harder and harder to discharge these duties and obligations of citizenship in every way they can. It is unmistakably evident that colored people who enjoy greater financial prosperity than the rank and file in their group feel it more and more incumbent upon them to contribute to the needs of the less favored members of their race. Giving freely as they can of their substance is a characteristic of colored people upon which many of the dominant race who have worked among them often remark. In the drive for funds which is being made now, therefore, there is no reason to fear that colored people will either shirk or fail. There is every reason to hope and to believe that the colored people of the National Capital will set a good example to the rest of the country by contributing liberally, so as to make the Community Chest here a brilliant success.

Terrell, Mary Church. “Talk for Community Chest over Radio in Washington, D.C.” Mary Church Terrell Papers. Library of Congress. 26 January 1929.