Eleanor Roosevelt: Champion For All

These little girls were mugging for their mom’s camera at the feet of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The statue is part of the FDR Memorial in Washington.

No memorial to this President would be complete without a nod to his wife, the longest serving First Lady in US history.

She is widely known for her humanitarian efforts and for her advocacy for women. On a long list of firsts and accomplishments, one that speaks to me is that she was the first First Lady to hold her own press conferences.

Additionally, attendance was restricted to female reporters. This forced newspapers to hire female reporters, opening doors for women to advance in the field of journalism. This marked the creation of the White House Women’s Press Corps.

She advocated for daycares and for wage equity for women. She lobbied to ban employment discrimination based on race and ethnicity. She spoke out against Hitler and against her own husband’s policy of Japanese internment during the war.

That was all when her husband was still living and when she was forced to tone things down because of political restraints. After he passed, Mrs Roosevelt joined the NAACP Board of Directors and was appointed by President Truman to be the only woman delegate to the United Nations General Assembly.

She went on to become the first chairperson of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and she had an influential tenure here.

Mrs Roosevelt came from a background of wealth and influence. Many wealthy people today choose to look out for their own interests, gathering power and growing their own bank balances. Instead, she chose to use her resources for the good of women, minorities and human kind. She was a champion for others right up until her death in 1962.

The world would be a better place if we had more people like her.