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Camp Howze Museum

"Dear Mr. President" 1942 Recording of David Helfeld, New York city college student


"Dear Mr. President" 1942 Recording of David Helfeld, New York city college student
David Helfeld, a 19-year-old college student and the President of the Student Council at the College of the City of New York, speaks on behalf of himself and his fellow students regarding their mutual horror over the discrimination against Black Americans in the United States Armed Forces. He equates the mistreatment of Black Americans with the same fascism being fought by Americans overseas and insists it must be fought at home as well.

01:04-02:59 “...Dear Mr. President, My name is David Helfeld…I happen to have the honor to be the President of the Student Council of College of the City of New York. I’m only 19 now and I have a year before I graduate. Before I become 20 I intend to join the army. There’s just one thought I’d like to get across to you. It’s a feeling which horrifies all the boys at our college and that is negro discrimination in the army and in the navy. It seems to me to be an example, a very horrible example of fascism within democracy. When we here at the college hear that there are … purely Negro regiments and that Negroes are only allowed to do slop duty aboard the ships of our navy, it makes us feel very bad. We here realize that there are three wars to be fought; the physical war against the fascist nations - Germany, Italy, and Japan, and the war from within against anti-semitism, Jim Crow, and factors of that nature. We feel that as long as we have fascism at home it is rather futile to fight from the outside if we are not at the same time fighting it from within. I thank you for listening. Besides the two wars I’ve just mentioned I feel there is a third war, a very important one, namely the war to make a proper peace, peace which will do away with all wars in the future.”
Todd, Charles L., Robert Sonkin, Charles Atlas, Serge Bethel, David Helfeld, and Sophie Paley.
“Dear Mr. President,” New York, New York, January or February. New York, New York,
1942. Audio.
World War II
David Helfeld
President Roosevelt
College of New York City
Camp Howze
greatest generation
U.S. military
U.S. Armed Forces
U.S. army
U.S. navy
Black Americans
Negro Americans
black soldiers
colored soldiers
negro soldiers
Jim Crow
audio recording