Graphic Witness: visual arts & social commentary
Winter Soldiers image

DR. YERGAN SAID, “I was dismissed because I was unwise enough to interest myself in community affairs. I was unwise enough to concern myself with the conditions under which children are being educated.”  Dr. Yergan had asked questions and had demanded answers.

Why does tuberculosis take such terrible toll of Negro school children in Harlem?

Why is the price for sunlight and fresh air so high that Negro babies must die in the diseased and vermin-ridden tenements of Harlem?

Why are the schools in Harlem zoned so that Negro children are Jim-Crowed?

Why must Negro children be schooled in fire-traps?

Why, in this richest city in the richest country in the world, must our children be hungry because there is too much to eat?

They didn’t answer these questions.

With the 6,000 other teacher-union members, Dr. Yergan had asked: Why is it that 90% of all school children have bad teeth? And that 9 out of every 10 high school pupils have some ailment and need remedial care which they can’t get? And that out of every 100 school children who die between the ages of 10 and 14, 25 die of heart disease? And that only 2 out of every 100 children who need glasses and can’t afford them, can obtain glasses through public aid?

The Union said, “There are sick, under-nourished, rickety children in the schools. They don’t have to be—for 81 cents a year for a child.”  81 cents a year for enough nurses and doctors and dentists to grow healthy children. That’s cheap enough, isn’t it? Cheaper than 60 billions for guns and tanks and battleships.

Would you call that subversive, Mr. Jones?

Sylvia Wald