This I Believe

Vann, Jessie

  • Jessie Vann describes her belief in the value of keeping her promises, her aunt's prediction that she would never amount to anything, her belief in the power of gratitude and appreciation, and the management of her husband's newspaper after he died.
This object is in collection Subject Permanent URL
Component ID:
To Cite:
TARC Citation Guide    EndNote
Detailed Rights
view transcript only

And now, This I Believe. A series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Mrs. Robert L. Vann is president and publisher of the Pittsburg Courier and a leading Negro civic leader. She is an active crusader for the improvement of race relations, education, and public welfare. She serves on the national boards of many diverse organizations, from the Urban League to the Newspaper Publishers Association and she is a member of the Governor’s Committee on Industrial Race Relations. Last year, she was appointed a member of President Eisenhower’s International Development Advisory Board. Here, now are the personal beliefs of Jessie M. Vann.
Throughout my entire life, I have been prone to remark that I believe in this or that. Yet, now that I am attempting to explain these beliefs, I find it rather difficult to put them into words. I lost my mother when I was four and my father eighteen months later. From that time on, my life was a succession of homes, with first one relative and then another. While my physical needs such as food, clothing, and shelter were adequately provided for, there was in most instances a lack of that love and understanding which I think is most important in the development of a child.
Difficult as were those early years, they had a great influence on my later life.
The only thing I remember that my father taught me was the value of keeping a promise. He had overheard me making a promise to a playmate, and later heard me break it because it did not suit my convenience to keep it. His admonition was to always think well before making a promise, but once made, if humanly possible, to try to keep it.
Another experience that had a great deal of influence over my life was in the form of a prediction made by an aunt when I left the little town where I was born to go to Harrisburg to live. She said that I would never amount to anything. That prediction struck me like a blow in the face. In my childish mind I had always associated all weaknesses of character with strong drink.
I had seen the lives of many people, some close to me, ruined by intemperance. The prediction by my aunt, I believe, is responsible for the fact that I am a teetotaler.
Another one of my beliefs is in the value of appreciation. I believe that an expression of appreciation pays bigger dividends than anything else and costs nothing. It is difficult to estimate the real value of a thank you when sincerely spoken.
For thirty years I was happily married, and then the real test of my faith in God and my philosophy of life came when I lost my husband thirteen years ago.
I was inclined to wonder why God had taken my husband, who I felt had so much to offer, and had left so many other people whose lives seemingly were of no value to themselves or to their fellow man. Fortunately I realized, after the first shock was over, that we are all the same in the sight of God and that I was not due any special consideration. And so I learned to accept my grief as God’s will.
My husband’s death meant that I was faced with making one of the greatest decisions of my life: whether to remain at home or to accept the responsibility of managing the newspaper business he had left—and I chose the latter. I have never regretted my choice.
By not pretending to know more than I really did, I was able to gain the cooperation of the employees. Together we have been able to carry on successfully.
The years have taught me that a full and busy life are the best cure for loneliness. They have also made me realize the truth of the statement, that if you give to the world the best that you have, the best will come back to you. This I believe.
Those were the beliefs of Jessie M. Vann, publisher of the Pittsburg Courier.