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for the Blind

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Letter to Will Rogers from Helen Keller (April 1, 1930)


April 1, 1930.

Dear Will Rogers:

I am going to heap coals of fire upon your amazingly wise head by writing you a letter --- a long, reproachful letter --- an audacious begging letter. Ever and ever so long ago I sent you "Midstream," --- a large book, a perfectly respectable book, and you have never deigned to say if you received it. Well, I forgive you, as I can't possible hold a grudge against one who gives me pleasure every day of my life. If I didn't read your morning paragraph in the "New York Times," I should doubt if the sun was shining.

Since you seem able to help everybody who gets into trouble, I am going to deposit my budget of problems for your consideration. I have been spellbound by your cleverness in finding ideas for those who haven't any. You have made suggestions for the farmer, the Democratic Party and the Naval Limitation Conference. You have supplied the U.S. Senate with a fair substitute for brains and found sticking-plaster for the unseemly breach between President Hoover and the Republican Party. Compared with all these problems, mine is simple.

For five years I have worked like a beaver (not a mythical beaver either) to raise two million dollars, so that the American Foundation for the Blind may have adequate funds to serve all classes of the blind contructively (sic). Up to date the Endowment Fund has reached about seven hundred thousand dollars. (This does not include the one hundred thousand from the Conrad Hubert Fund because we have not received it yet.) I am now engaged in a determined effort to reach the first million mark before June. When this is accomplished, we have reason to believe that Mr. John D. Rockefeller Jr. and other large donors will make substantial contributions. A gift of twenty-five thousand --- a wonderful surprise I received Christmas Eve from a friend in Philadelphia who wishes his name not to be mentioned --- emboldens me to anticipate the realization of my life-dream -- to open doors of usefulness to thousands of blind people.

The fixed idea in my mind is not merely the achievement of my goal, but the thought that when the Foundation has that two million dollars, the blind will be no longer beggars at the door of charity. Until then we cannot create a right attitude towards them on the part of the public, and the blind suffer from the wrong attitude of the world towards them more than from blindness.

Another reason for my eagerness to complete the Fund as soon as possible is, that my beloved teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy, who has been my companion and helper during forty-three years, is rapidly losing her sight, and I cannot tell how long she will be able to give me the assistance in my work upon which I have always counted. Your heart will interpret for you her anxiety and my own sorrow. I have had the sweet joy of helping to save others' sight, and I can do nothing for the one nearest to me! You have made a splendid success of your life, and I know you will not want me to fail now when my heart is sad, and all about me is uncertainty and the dark.

You are the magician of words. You know how to open hearts as well as the lips of laughter. You have probably heart (sic) how the Egyptians believed that if one pronounced the name of a god in a certain ingratiating way when asking for a boon, it would be granted forthwith, no matter what the purpose of the petition was. Alas! my speech is halting and unbeautiful, it would not win favor in the Court of the Gods. But with you it is very different, dear Will Rogers. Because you have the magic, will you not say something that will bring a degree of independence and normal happiness to the blind of America? A few golden words from you would mean more to the sightless than a handsome contribution in dollars.

If this letter is too long, and you haven't time to read it, all right, I greet you anyhow as a scatterer of sunshine and good-will among men.

Sincerely yours,

Helen Keller

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