When I close my eyes and think of Eleanor Roosevelt many images roll through my mind.
First I see her as a privileged lonely child. Unattractive by her mother’s standards she was taught her only hope was…
I see her longing for the attention of her father, who was the only one in her childhood who treated her like a princess. He made a promise to take her to the Taj Mahal one day, but died of alcoholism when she was 10. Her mother passed away two years earlier from diphtheria.
I see her being raised by a strict grandmother in a dangerous home with violent drunken uncles, and then sent off to Allenswood Academy in London to not only become educated, but to kept her safe from harm.
I see her coming alive at Allenswood, where she learned to speak French, along with being encouraged to develop both her personal voice and social conscience.
I see her falling in love with and marrying her distant cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt and having six children
I see her as a very shy, fearful woman who overcame her weaknesses one by one, facing them square in the eye.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”
When asked by her husband to tour an asylum for shell-shocked war vets she was terrified, but went despite the voices in her head telling her to run and escape while she could. Instead she put one foot in front of the other and talked to the men, learning quickly her fears were unjustified.
I see her bravely resigning from the “Daughters of the American Revolution” when they refused to allow African-American opera contralto, Marian Anderson to sing in Constitution Hall. Later Mrs. Roosevelt arranged for her to sing at the Lincoln Memorial in which 75,000 people of all races and color attended together. Mrs. Roosevelt was absent from the crowd because she did not want her presence to overshadow Marian Anderson’s performance.
I see her compassion as she met face to face with the poor, listening to their stories and concerns and acting to help, using not only her political power, but strength of character and conviction to reduce suffering of all kinds.
I see her championing de-segregation and fighting for equality for all.
I see her driving to a civil rights workshop right through ‘Klu Klux Clan” territory, with a pistol on the seat next to her.
“ The day before she’s supposed to go, the FBI contacts her and says, “Mrs. Roosevelt, we can’t guarantee your safety. The Klan’s put a bounty on your head, a $25,000 bounty on your head. We can’t protect you. You can’t go.” Eleanor says, “I didn’t ask for your protection. I appreciate the warning. I have a commitment. I’m going.” Vernon Jarrett
I see her in endless debates as the United States delegate to The United Nations in which she eventually drafted “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” What a sense of accomplishment she must have felt.
Take a minute to read it. It is powerful and timely.
I see her as the author of several books including:
“This Troubled World,” “My Days,” “The Moral Basis of Democracy,” “On My Own,” “Ladies of Courage,” “Growing Toward Peace,” “You Lean by Living,” “Tomorrow is Now”
While studying for this blog post, I watched hours of video portraying Eleanor Roosevelt’s life. More often than not she was wearing a hand knit sweater, and knitting while she carried on conversation. That confirmed it! I knew I was drawn to her for a reason. She is a “Kindred Spirit.”
I see her fulfilling her dream of visiting the Taj Mahal before her death in 1962
Eleanor Roosevelt was a “Pioneer of Peace.” She had a painful childhood, suffered from depression throughout her life, and lived with her husband’s infidelity. Despite it all, she was passionate about learning and a lover of humanity. She deeply believed in equality and social justice and overcame her shyness to take on some of the most difficult challenges of her day in a very public way. The FBI kept a thick file on her, the Klu Klux Clan had a $25,000.00 bounty on her head, and she received constant criticism and mockery for her bold pursuit of what she believed to be right.Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
Later in life she allowed advertisers to use her good name to sell their products, in order to earn additional funds for all of her many causes. She is the epitome of “Walking, Not Just Talking.” Her life and work is inspiring on so many levels and her example motivates a desire to have the courage to “Be the Change You Want to See in the World.” Ghandi
“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it. “
“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”Eleanor Roosevelt