To the Editor:
After reading “The Battle of Abnegation Township” (COMMENTARY, March 1950), I have come to the depressing conclusion that the veteran group’s otherwise gallant fight is completely nullified by its negative stand about including Negroes in the project.
I am referring to the statement attributed to Mr. Greenfield: “We wanted to let Negroes in—they’re veterans too, you know. But we’ve been advised that big mortgage investors, unfortunately, will not take Negroes on a mixed project. There are no Negroes in the cooperative.” This attempt at offhand irony hardly hides the fact that little thought was apparently given to the idea of admitting Negroes.
It seems grossly paradoxical that this veteran’s group could fight so intrepidly against anti-Semitism and yet so lightly dismiss Negroes from participating in the cooperative. Perhaps I am wrong: perhaps the question received more of a hearing than Mr. Greenfield’s simple statement leads me to believe. If so, I would like to know about it. As it stands now, those pacifying remarks to the country-lubbers of Royal vitiate the whole project.
Bronx, New York
To the Editor:
Morton M. Hunt’s splendid article in the March COMMENTARY, describing “The Battle of Abnegation Township,” mentions several individuals who played important parts in that battle; but—doubtless because of limitations of space—Mr. Hunt failed to mention the important part played by Blessing J. Rosenthal and his son, Julius Rosenwald II. Julius was a member of the original small group which formed the cooperative and served on its board of directors during the formative period. His father was the largest contributor to the fund which was raised to launch the project.
Mr. Rosenwald was the principal witness for the cooperative at the first meeting of the Township Commissioners. As the largest taxpayer in the township, owning 144 acres of land directly across Fox Chase Road from the cooperative’s land, he declared his full support for the project. At a later meeting, before the Zoning Board of Adjustment of Abington, he again appeared as the cooperative’s principal witness. On one occasion Mr. Rosenwald with his characteristic generosity pledged one-half of a construction fund of sixty-five thousand dollars to the cooperative, contingent upon the veterans raising the other half from other contributors. This fund was never raised, and only because the fight in the township prevented their proceeding with construction.
Throughout the township fight, Mr. Rosenwald consulted frequently with the leaders of the group, always ready to use his good offices on the cooperative’s behalf. It is conceded by those thoroughly familiar with the situation that the cooperative could not have attained its ultimate victory without Lessing Rosenwald’s staunch support.