We are approaching the life of one of the most important women in our history, Eleanor Roosevelt, a key figure in several of the most important events of the past century and of humanity. Roosevelt was a diplomat and human rights activist and one of the most influential people of the 20th century.
The niece of President Theodore Roosevelt and wife of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, she had a privileged position as American first lady. This position was the platform from which she carried out institutional support to such important issues as social justice, women’s liberation and universal human rights.
While the women who had preceded her in that position had limited themselves to being the wives of the president, Eleanor Roosevelt managed to make the position of First Lady a responsible position with the government and its citizens. And it went much further, because her work as a delegate in the United Nations left a very important legacy to the whole world.
Her early years
Eleanor was born in the city of New York, in the bosom of a family of the American high society; however, it is said that she did not have a happy childhood. She was orphaned of father and mother while still very young. She was sent to study at a select school in London, where it seems that she had the help of a magnificent teacher who managed to make her, in a short time, a strong and charismatic young woman.
Back in the United States, she maintains relations with a distant cousin of promising future, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, with whom she married in 1905. Soon after, they moved to Albany, to be named her husband senator. The marriage has 6 children, one of whom died very young.
Despite all her family obligations, Eleanor became interested in political intricacies and participating in different organizations. She supported the League of Women Voters, the Women’s League of the Trade Union and the Women’s Division of the Democratic Party. She directed a furniture factory and held Literature and History chairs in a secondary school. During the First World War, he joined forces with the Red Cross.
Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady
In 1933, her great ascent takes place; her husband is elected president of the United States. A mandate that lasted 12 years, during which Eleanor Roosevelt acted as never before had any first lady. At a time when women had little relevance in public life, Eleanor gave more than 300 lectures for women journalists and participated in political events in favor of women’s rights, especially African-American women.
“A woman is like a tea bag – you cannot know how strong it is until you put it in hot water.”
She promoted the civil rights of the most disadvantaged, wrote in newspapers, edited a women’s magazine and published four books. During the Second World War, she was in charge of issues related to civil defense. Even during the war, came to publicly oppose one of the decisions of her husband as president of the United States in relation to the detention of thousands of Japanese West Coast.
An important legacy
Upon the death of her husband, far from retiring from public life, Eleanor took a new turn in her political activity and was recruited by Truman as a delegate of the United Nations Assembly. She participated in the elaboration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document considered as the great International Magna Carta. Her influence appears in the constitutions of a large number of nations and protects the rights of men and women throughout the world.
President Truman called her “The First Lady of the World.” John F. Kennedy considered her the archetype of the American woman. A legacy that has served as inspiration for many of her successors, Roosevelt opened the field of politics to women. Finally, she died on April 23, 1962, in the city where she was born, at 78 years of age.
“Great minds talk about ideas, medium minds talk about events, little minds talk about people.”
Never before had a woman had the public and political relevance that she achieved. Eleanor continues to be an inspiration to many women in and out of her country. All those who fight for the rights of women and minorities recognize that Eleanor significantly improved the dignity of all human beings.