Eleanor Roosevelt and Human RightsDecember 08, 2008
I was a fan of FDR long before I ever knew that his wife, Eleanor, had an influential role unlike most presidential wives before her and that after his death her global influence and fight for humanity continued as long as she was physically able. What turned me into an Eleanor fan? I was given a copy her newspaper column My Day (in book form) and learned of Eleanor’s fight for the rights of the average American.
Eleanor ultimately took her humanitarian crusade beyond our borders and, after FDR’s death, was appointed by Truman to represent us in the United Nations. She chaired the committee that drafted and approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose 60th anniversary the world is celebrating this month. Her address to the U.N. on that occasion is fascinating to watch.
AAUW established the Eleanor Roosevelt Fund Award in 1989. The award honors an individual, project, organization, or institution for outstanding contributions to equity and education for women and girls. It is given for a broad range of activities, including classroom teaching, educational and research contributions, and legal and legislative work in equity for women and girls. You too can help fund this award to help us continue our efforts on behalf of equity.
I wonder what Eleanor Roosevelt would think of the world situation today. I imagine she would take up the leadership mantle once again and travel the world advocating for everyone’s human rights. I’m sure she would cheer those changes that have occurred for the better, while despairing over the distance still needing to be made. While I still have great admiration for FDR, I now think of him as “Eleanor’s husband.”