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Eleanor Roosevelt - Essay Example

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Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the most politically active First Ladies in US history. She worked tirelessly advocating for the rights of the poor, minorities, and women. After Franklin Delano Roosevelt's (FDR) death, she continued her politically active career on the international stage…
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Download file to see previous pages During 40 years of public service Eleanor Roosevelt was able to change America's viewpoint on gender, race, and our integral part of a global society.
To begin to understand Eleanor Roosevelt's contribution to America demands that we evaluate her commitment to Franklin Roosevelt and his desire for a more equal America. After serving a short stint with the American Red Cross and volunteer work in Navy hospitals during World War I, FDR was stricken with polio in 1921 ("Eleanor Roosevelt: First lady of the World" (1)). This propelled Eleanor into the life of politics, as she became a staunch supporter of FDR. It has often been said that she was the eyes and ears of FDR as she traveled the country and the world to report to FDR and offer her advice. These initial actions by Ms. Roosevelt laid the groundwork for one of the most influential figures in American history.
One of the first, and certainly the most public, activities that Eleanor Roosevelt undertook was advocating for the poor in the face of Hoover's vision of America. She worked to get FDR elected and then changed her focus to the poor and minorities of America. She traveled the country insuring that the programs of the New Deal were being implemented fairly in regards to women and minorities. According to a recent article in Human Quest, a liberal Episcopalian publication, Ms. Roosevelt, "...gathered evidence and pressured the President to sign a series of Executive Orders to stop the discrimination in the New Deal projects. That was effective, and the share of blacks in New Deal work projects expanded" ("Eleanor Roosevelt, 'First Lady of the World'" (2)). This commitment to civil rights would be carried forward and later influence the desegregation of the armed forces under President Truman.
Eleanor Roosevelt's political activism expanded to include women's rights and brought about the public's awareness that gender should be treated as a minority component. As a US Delegate to the United Nations she was instrumental in the writing and advocacy for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The Declaration begins with article 1 stating, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood" ("Universal Declaration of Human Rights"). Eleanor campaigned to have the wording of this important passage changed from "all men" to its current form ("Eleanor Roosevelt: The World's First Lady."(3)). This was one of the most influential documents regarding women's rights to date and was vital to securing the future of women's rights (Bunch 488). Eleanor was making her influence felt 60 years ago in the arena of women's rights on the international stage. Her progressive thinking continues to reverberate through the vision where women are afforded equality in the workplace and within the law.
Ms. Roosevelt's activities did not end with the most visible minority groups of race and gender but extended themselves to the area of the children most affected by the discrimination. In this area, Eleanor Roosevelt was instrumental in forming the African-American voting bloc as a key component of Democratic politics. Her support of the 'Black Cabinet' assured black politicians and administrators access to the president to push for favorable legislation that affected equal employment for women and blacks ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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