Braille Monitor                                              March 2014

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Another Gifted Writer

From the Editor: In January of 1958 a letter was published from an up and coming leader in the National Federation of the Blind. We thought Monitor readers would be interested in this correspondence and that it will remind us how important it is to make the case for joining the National Federation of the Blind while reaffirming our own choice to give so much to the movement. Here is what the January 1958 issue of this magazine had to say about Donald Capps:

Donald CappsIt has lately become evident that we now have another most outstanding wielder of the eloquent pen, in the person of Donald Capps, president of our South Carolina affiliate. Here is a fine sample of his work--a letter written to a prominent blind lawyer in his state:

....[R]ecall that you told me, when asked if you would participate in the work the Aurora Club and the NFB is doing, that you needed more time to think about the matter and that you also wanted to secure the impressions of impartial parties concerning the NFB. Certainly no one can be criticized for investigating before assuming responsibilities, and I for one did exactly this before entering into this work. As a young man with eleven years’ experience in the insurance industry and apparently with prospects for a reasonably bright future and career, it would have been foolish for me to assume responsibilities and enter into any phase of activity that would jeopardize my future welfare.

There are, of course, hundreds of institutions and agencies doing work with and for the blind. These include state agencies, schools for the blind, sheltered workshops, guide dog establishments, and Braille magazine publications, etc. Each in its own field should be recognized for its actual contribution to the life of the blind. However, the National Federation of the Blind is unique in that it is a national organization of the blind themselves with organizations in forty-three states and members in all the states, and the leadership of the national organization as well as the state organization is in the hands of successful blind people. While each state organization may vary in its structure and scope, it is the ultimate aim of the state and national organization to abolish misconceptions about blindness through public education and to promote job opportunity in accordance with a blind individual's capabilities. We are especially interested in blind persons assuming jobs in private industry beside their sighted fellow workers and in other fields. We believe it is harmful to the blind to colonize or segregate them into a special type of sheltered work which focuses public attention on this special treatment. Improving the public's attitude concerning blindness is, in my opinion, of extreme importance, and, once blindness is fully accepted by the public, then many or most of our problems will no longer be.

The forty thousand blind men and women who make up the National Federation of the Blind are engaged in all fields of endeavor, and it probably will be interesting to you to know that many of the directors of the NFB are successful attorneys. As a matter of fact, there must have been some fifty lawyers present at the convention in New Orleans in July, and at that time this group organized some type of lawyers' guild. Not being in the legal profession, I did not attend this meeting and therefore do not know exactly what they discussed or plan to do, but one thing is certain, and that is that they will exchange ideas and do those things that will result in mutual good. Two of the directors of the NFB whom you might happen to know are Walter McDonald, a lawyer and chairman of the Georgia Public Service Commission, and Dr. Munford Boyd, professor of law at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

One of the most discouraging aspects of working in any organization is that of getting those persons who can make a substantial contribution to the cause to participate but who fail to do so for one reason or another. All of us have philosophical differences, which we will agree is human nature, but for the life of me I cannot see why anyone who has experienced blindness and its problems would fail to participate in a program designed to benefit the blind....

It is recognized that this letter is lengthy, but I hope that you will seriously consider my request that you join in and work with us as I sincerely and earnestly feel that you should not deprive our organization, which you will recall was recently honored by a concurrent resolution introduced by Rep. Burnett R. Maybank, Jr., of your talents and the contributions which you could undoubtedly make...I urge you to become active in our state organization which will provide you with a real opportunity to contribute to the improvement of the lot of the blind, and I assure you that we are making progress, and you may also be assured I shall continue to use all of my energy and resources to further this progress. Once you have become active in this work, you will be pleasantly surprised at how beneficial it will be to you and at how much personal satisfaction will be yours from helping others....

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