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Eleanor Roosevelt – The Struggle for Human Rights

Posted by on February 15, 2021 in Stuff with 0 Comments

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the key political figures and diplomats of the 20th century. She was the first lady of the U.S.A. at a time when the country was going through an incredibly testing time – the Second World War. As the wife of then-U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt wasn’t satisfied being the traditional First Lady. Instead, she actively fought for political, racial, and social justice and became one of the most active first ladies in the country’s history.

Who Did She Fight For?

Eleanor Roosevelt was a champion for many causes. Her support for various government-funded programs made the lives of laborers, African Americans, women, and the country’s poor citizens in the post-Depression era much better.

Her support for artists and writers was also very well-documented. She is the longest-serving ‘First Lady’ in the history of the U.S. as Franklin D. Roosevelt had four terms in office between 1933 and 1945. Every year, the First Lady achieved more in terms of highlighting the plights of various sections of the society.

However, Eleanor Roosevelt is perhaps most famous for being a champion for women’s rights. Although women were eligible to vote during her tenure as First Lady, their participation in society or governmental roles were heavily limited. In her tenure as the First Lady –

  • She encouraged the President to hire more women for federal positions.
  • Held press conferences specifically for female reporters, ending the ban on women in White House press conference rooms.
  • From 1961 to 1962 (her death), Roosevelt was the head of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women – a role she took up after being requested by then-President John Kennedy.

On 24 October 1945, she had become the first person to chair the Human Rights Committee after the formation of the U.N. after the end of World War II. Thus, began her journey as the champion of human rights. After the war, then-President Harry Truman appointed her to be part of the United States’ first U.N. delegation. In September 1948, the former first lady delivered one of the famous speeches of all time called, “The Struggle for Human Rights.”

The Making of Eleanor Roosevelt

This “The Struggle for Human Rights” speech inspired all members of the U.N. to pass the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This charter benefits every human being on the planet today. The thoughts Roosevelt shared in this speech were heavily influenced by her past experiences of World War I and II.

  • In World War I, Eleanor Roosevelt had served food to shell-shocked sailors and marines who were being treated at the St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in D.C.
  • During World War II, Roosevelt traveled all across the world, visiting not only American soldiers but also soldiers from allied countries.
  • Throughout her public life, she had served on the board of several organizations, including the Advisory Council for the Peace Corps and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Eleanor Roosevelt and The Marines – A Special Relationship

During 1941-45, when the war was at its peak, Eleanor Roosevelt traveled to various remote locations as an official Red Cross representative.

But, in her mind, she was representing all the women who weren’t allowed to travel back then. In her letters, she said that she knew how the mothers of the soldiers felt. Her four sons were enlisted as well. During these trips, she gave inspirational speeches, learned more about the soldiers’ plight, and even broke bread with the enlisted men (not the officers)!

In 1943, Eleanor Roosevelt visited over ten different locations in the south Pacific Ocean (held by Allied forces) in less than six days! Some of the best Eleanor Roosevelt Marines quotes that are still taught in the United States Marine Corps recruit training programs, were made during these trips. Her determination to meet as many soldiers and sailors who were stationed on remote islands as possible boosted the nation’s morale at a vital time.

A Long-Lasting Impact

The “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” a model that’s still followed by all U.N. nations, was championed by the former First Lady and social activist over sixty years ago. Without her, the world wouldn’t be half as humane as it is now!

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