Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Eleanor at 125

This week (October 11th) is Eleanor Roosevelt's 125th birthday. There is a nice article at HNN on her this week. You can also find information at Val-Kill, which is the NPS site of Eleanor Roosevelt. Time has a really nice photo essay on her younger days - some really beautiful photographs.

Eleanor Roosevelt was a tireless worker for equal rights for everyone and is best known for these efforts. I thought I'd pull some information on this out from the HNN article for you:
In the deep South, she took an ice cream cone from a black man's hand and ate from it – an act of integration rarely seen in those days, particularly involving so distinguished a woman. She sat in the middle of the aisle between blacks and whites at a segregated meeting, answering a question about the purpose of her presence by saying that she was “bearing witness.” Refusing the protection of the Secret Service, she drove through the back roads of the South, while she was on the Ku Klux Klan's most wanted list, to advise a group of black people about fighting for their freedom (which had to have involved elements of civil disobedience). In the early 1930s, she brought leaders of the NAACP and African American universities together at the White House to communicate.

She continued her work after her husband's death:
The “moral conscience of the New Deal,” as she was called, did not limit her activism to her husband's administration. She prodded John F. Kennedy to act more decisively on civil rights, and served as intermediary between Martin Luther King, Jr., and JFK, who was fearful of losing support within his own party by being too close to a black activist. As a delegate to the United Nations (its first woman delegate) during the Truman administration, following the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust, she developed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, defining and outlining the rights of all human beings, in language that many countries and cultures were able to relate to and accept. Her efforts on behalf of civil rights and other causes often resulted in accusations of Communist sympathies. She bore it all with the quiet dignity that she wished for all human beings.

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