Segment: Welfare and foreign countries

Source: Interview with Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Videotaped at the Douglas House in Coconut Grove, June 16, 1983.

Link to Audio: SPC956_7

Length of Segment: 00:05:04

MSD: I have never quite approved of all this accent on growth, cause I was brought up in a much slower growing country or at least very slow indeed.  And I, I thought that the town was inadequate when I first came down, it didn't have a lot of the amenities and the things it should have had.  I started for the Herald... the first charity that was not a church charity in this town was the Herald baby milk fund.  My father told me to start it, and I did, and we provided money for babies' milk.  And that was the first charity that was not a church charity -- We had no family welfare we had no welfare of any kind at all.  And I had come from a country where we were trained in social work and all that.  I could, I would try to write an editorial about our needing family welfare and father wouldn't print it.  Because he said "well, we don't need that now, " Well we did.  But the didn't, he and Mr Shutts and those other people, they didn't recognize that, it’s another reason I got off the Herald.  I didn't want to keep on working, it was too "daily" anyway for what I wanted to do.  But I, I knew more about some things about a city than my father knew and Mr. Shutts did, and I did not approve of their policies always.  And I was just the daughter of the establishment, egads, you know, they didn't have to pay any attention to me, so I got off.

Interviewer: What did you know about this city?  Tell me about...

MSD: What do I know about cities?

Interviewer: Tell me what you saw that you felt this city needed?

MSD: Well I said, I was just telling you it didn't have half of the things that a city should be to give service to its people.  It didn't have welfare of any kind, it didn't have family welfare, it didn't have family guidance.  It didn't have, um, charity things.  It was only the churches who did charity work and I was used to a place like Boston where, I, my senior in college, we studied a good deal of the social work things of Boston, and I saw the things that were needed, especially for a place like Boston or a place like Miami, where people were still coming in from other countries.  And Boston handled the incoming people very much more better than Miami did; it didn't handle them at all in the old days.  And you saw with the refugee problem we've just had this city is totally unprepared to handle anything of the sort.  They didn't, they had to hastily put them in concentration camps, that's just about all they could do.  Yet, that is not going to be the end of the refugee problem.  We're going to have it over and over and over again, because we have, we have been paying no attention whatsoever to The Third World to the south of us, beginning with either the Bahamas or certainly Haiti.  We're not doing anything about any of that and we're going to have more and more people intruding and we won't know what to do with them at all.  We should begin, the United States as a matter of fact, I could tell them, the United States needs to realize that these people who are flooding in over the border from California all the way along to the end of Florida.  You can't keep people out of Florida because of this coastline.  You couldn't blockade it if you had a ship every mile, people could still get in.  The whole United States is totally unprepared and unthinking about the people that are flooding in.  Why are they coming in?  Because they're hungry, and when people are hungry they will do anything to go where there is some food.  We should be considering Mexico, I'll tell you exactly, instead of vegetables in Florida we should be getting our vegetables from Mexico where they're cheaper to raise, where people need the work.  Where they can build, raise them in quantity.  We shouldn't be bothered with vegetables in this country.  We're giving up valuable land for vegetables that shouldn't belong here.  The same way, we should consider sugar, that doesn't belong with us up around Lake Okeechobee.  We'll we're getting rid of that over the course of time because they've destroyed the soil, they've destroyed thirty feet of peaty muck that they originally built, grew sugar in.  There's not under five feet of peaty muck they want everything but rock in another fifteen years.  We should be getting that sugar raised in the southern slopes of Haiti, where the people are starving.  Instead of having them coming here to us, we should go to them and see that they've got proper things to keep them... we're not just handing out money.  We had out money to Duvalier, and what does he do?  He has a big wedding that costs millions of dollars and doesn't do the people any good at all.  We should see to it that these countries that send us our refugees are better equipped to employ their own people in their own places.  We're just completely blind about this whole thing.