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Mary LaskerMary Lasker
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splendid dinner in the StateDepartment dining room for the President of the French Congo, Youlou, a Negro priest who wore a charming costume made by Dior, all white. Although he was a defrocked priest, he was still wearing a kind of priest-like robe.

Q:

He had a wife at that time, didn't he?

Lasker:

Maybe he had one, but she wasn't there. He brought a large suite of French advisers, and I remember sitting next to his Negro secretary and Mr. Steven Smith at the dinner. Dinner was extremely well done, with eight Air Force violinists playing to entertain. I'm sure the dinner must have been very difficult for Vice President Johnson because Youlou didn't speak one word of English, and every word had to be translated, because Johnson didn't speak one word of French.

But the efforts of this Administration to make friends with African nations socially was terribly interesting to me and I think was probably--maybe it was done in Eisenhower's time, but certainly not in Truman's, because these two countries weren't independent in those days--and there was nothing second-class about the way they were entertained.

I remember that President Youlou must have felt right at home because it was a hot night in June, and although the dining room was airconditioned, we went out on the terrace on top of the StateDepartment Building, and it was absolutely broiling. It was just unbelievable.



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