Friday, October 9, 2009

Trailblazer

Eleanor Roosevelt led an interesting life. Not only a formidable character on her own accord, she was a trusted and valued advisor to her husband, President FDR. In addition to her many contributions, she advocated for civil rights a decade before The American Civil Rights Movement and its reforms started in 1945. She was a pioneer of equality when it was an unpopular thing to do. Good for you Eleanor Roosevelt.

When the Daughters of the American Revolution barred great African American singer Marian Anderson from performing at its Washington DC Constitutional Hall, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt sent DAR a letter immediately. This is the letter verbatim from Letters of the Century.

My Dear Mrs. Henry M. Robert Jr. (President General of the DAR):

I am afraid that I have never been a useful member of the DAR so I know it will make very little difference to you whether I resign or continue to be a member of your organization.

However, I am in complete disagreement with the attitude taken in refusing Constitution Hall to a great artist. You have set an example which seems me to unfortunate, and I feel obliged to send in to you my resignation. You had an opportunity to lead in an enlightened way and it seems to me your ogranization has failed.

I realize that many people will not agree with me, but feeling as I do this seems to be the only proper procedure to follow.

Very Sincerely Yours,

Eleanor Roosevelt

It was 1939. Applause to a woman who knew such treatment was offensive. And knew other people would not only resist openly criticizing her reaction to DAR's behavior but some of those same people would also approach FDR with a voice of admonition that he needed to keep his GD wife quiet. Yet she willingly proceed to call the DAR on the carpet anyway because they were wrong. In 2009, some people still opt to look the other way. You were decades ahead of us, Eleanor Roosevelt. Bravo for your convictions and fortitude.

75 comments:

The Cherry Blog said...

good for her. i had never heard of this = great post. x

Tammy Howard said...

Bravo, indeed!

Dustjacket Attic said...

GOOD ON HER!
XXX

The Peach Tart said...

She was quite the revolutionary. She even tried to get her husband to pass health care laws similar to the public option now on the table.

the walking man said...

My grandmother a progressive liberal woman who lived 105 years, taught me from Eleanor's rule book. I could have done with more Sandburg and less Frost at her knee but there was simply enough of Mrs. Roosevelt.

My name is PJ. said...

OOOOOH, She has always been one of my heroines! Yes, she had eleventy gazillion wonderful quotes for which I remember her, but I remember her most for doing the right thing.

(Not that the DAR is a bunch of republican, tightass, waspy windbags or anything).

Think: When was the last time someone told a racist joke within earshot of you and you stopped them? Gives one pause for thought, doesn't it?

Hit 40 said...

Fun piece of history. Good for Eleanor!!! She was a wise woman.

af1blog said...

Now THERE'S a lady I admire! She appears to have always put her money (metaphorically) where her mouth was. Good on her. Good post too!

hurstburst said...

Yes!!

Theta Mom said...

"You were decades ahead of us, Eleanor Roosevelt. Bravo for your convictions and fortitude." Perfectly said!

otherworldlyone said...

Good job Eleanor!

Mommy Mac said...

Women to look back on and find strength to apply to our today...trailblazer could not have been a more perfect post fro this.

Jenny Mac, I like you a lot.

Did you know that??

.mac :)

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

Excellent post for today. It's nice to see someone stand up and od what's right. It doesn't happen nearly often enough even in these 'evolved' times.

Katiesperk said...

Great post. Bravo to you and to Eleanor!

La Belle Mere UK said...

I love it when people are brave enough to speak out against popular opinion despite knowing they will be criticised for it!

Fantastic post and a reminder to all pioneers out there to be true to yourself.

LBM xxx

AmyK said...

She was an amazing woman with a mind of her own, which in that time, was rare for women to be so verble. She was absolutley a trailblazer. We'll forgive the whole marrying your cousin thing. :)

I collect First Lady bios and the one with the most "bad press, taken out of context, to me, was Mary Lincoln.

ellen abbott said...

At the Roosevelt Memorial in DC, there is a section of it devoted to Eleanor. An amazing woman.

Eva Gallant said...

Wow...she certainly was a leader!

tori said...

I love reading about this kinda stuff. Thanks for visiting my blog. I will be following.

Too Many Hats said...

You go, Eleanor!

Intense Guy said...

...and here it is, 70 years later and we STILL have racism, bigotry religious intolerance, and hatred.

Add to that, a billion more people with fewer and fewer opportunities which fuels more and more violence and hatred - and much of it will be directed at the idiots that play in your pool.

I wish I could see some silver lining in the clouds...

I'm sorry. The world needs more strong people like Eleanor and ... just less people.

Simone said...

Great post....both interesting and inspiring....thank you JennyMac.

Emily said...

Excellent letter. Too many people do look the other way at inequality. And unfortunately for our society now, too many people are too focused on not being offensive rather than do the right thing.

JenJen said...

I've channeled my inner Eleanor.
And was fired.
And.
I can look at my kids and know I set the best example for them, because really, there is no choice.

Mrs Montoya said...

Sharp, witty AND historically accurate - I heart you JennyMac. Mrs. Roosevelt was an admirable woman, and so are you. Super cool post.

AnnQ said...

I love it! Good for her... :-)

Jamie said...

We women tend to catch onto things a bit sooner, no? haha. But really, it amazes me how far we've come and yet there is still farther to go!

P.S. There will be a little somthin-somethin for you at my blog later today... it isn't the prettiest, but it has good intentions :)

Lisa Anne said...

I think I'm always learning somethign new and interesting when I visit your blog. The BF is a history buff, now I actually have something interesting to say to him!!

Mommy Lisa said...

God I love her - she should have been our first lady president.

Eleanor rocks!

M-Cat said...

Great post! I am counting this as my educational nugget for the day. I can now be a slug and veggeify in front of the tv for the rest of the day

i am the diva said...

she sounds fascinating.
I don't know much about her, being canadian, but i bet her biography would be an interesting read

Tere Kirkland said...

She was an amazing woman and one of the most proactive first ladies.

During the depression she came to West Virginia where my husband's family lived, and stayed with his grandparent's family (the only house in town with modern plumbing at that point) while she began founding the town of Arthurdale.

It was supposed to be self-sufficient and free its citizens from having to work in the coal industry. This is simplifying a bit, but she made sure that new homes were built and that all of them had modern plumbing and insulation.

She was a great woman and a friend to every American. Thanks for an amazing post.

Schmutzie said...

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Sami said...

Wow; go Ellie! Smart woman, both she AND you, thank you for posting this!

Georgina said...

Eleanor Roosevelt has always been on my Top 10 list of people I would want to talk to if I could go back in history. (Freddie Mercury is also on that list, I'm not sure why - he was a trailblazer in stadium glam rock?) Great Post! - G

Young Mom/Wife said...

When I was younger I was OBSESSED with Eleanor Roosevelt. She was one tough cookie, and wasn't afraid to speak her mind. Great post.

Little Ms Blogger said...

As a history major, I've always been in awe of Eleanor.

I wish more women were like her.

Being Pramoda... said...

hi jenny..

good to get this post frm u .. thank uuu

Pricilla said...

I have read several biographies on Eleanor Roosevelt and she was, indeed a fascinating and strong woman. And quite ahead of her time.

McVal said...

Wow! I've learned something today! Thanks! And good for her! I hope that in the same situation, I'd enough gumption to speak up for injustice.

foxy said...

No doubt! An inspiration she was, indeed! And so ahead of her time...

Jen said...

that was awesome.

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

I had no idea of her history in change, what a strong woman for those times.. for any times!

Mom in High Heels said...

I adore ER. She was an amazing woman way ahead of her time. Thanks for sharing.

Mira is triplet crown said...

The quote that keeps me going throughout my trial and tribulations? Eleanor Roosevelt:

"You must do this thing you think you cannot."

And somehow I do.

Drahdrah said...

She was an amazing woman !

melissa said...

My great grandmother and Eleanor Roosevelt were good friends and we have numerous letters from her to my great grandmother. One of my favorites is where my Great Grandmother calls her out for hosting fancy tea parties at the White house while the country was trying to recover from a depression. Her response was along the lines of bringing back class and life to the country, but the public tea parties stopped shortly after that.
I'll have to ask my grandma to go through those letters again sometime. I haven't seen them since I was a kid doing a report on her.

Tsquared417 said...

Awesome!! Women power!!

Slyde said...

not that this has ANYTHING to do with your post, but ive always wanted to tell you that, whenever i see your avatar and its really small, it always looks to me like the face of a white kitten (the wine glass is the nose).

Leah Rubin said...

I remember learning this about Eleanor way back when. (Yes. I am old.) But I never knew she drove a Honda, so thanks for that.

What? --you said she had her own accord!

---groan... I'm sorry.

Grand Pooba said...

Wow!

Green-Eyed Momster said...

She was almost as amazing as you are! Great post as usual.

Hugs!!

strokeofliving said...

Kudos to your research!

I actually thought you were going to liken the motivation behind Eleanor's letter to the news of our president being honored today with the Nobel Peace Prize and the wing nuts who are outraged by this honor being bestowed upon him.

But this was fine too :-)

wendy said...

Thanks for sharing that little "snippit" of history with us. I have visited your blog before, but came over here from Barbaloot's blog. Always fun to find new places to visit I think.
I wish we could all be Brave and speak our mind like Eleanor did eh.

drollgirl said...

thank GAWD there are folks like her that speak up, take a stand, and try to do the right thing. i wish there were more of them!!!!!!

Amanda said...

What an amazing woman, so strong and courageous. I love that quote of hers mentioned by Mira above as well.

Jenni Jiggety said...

Wow. I had never heard that story before. What an amazing woman she was!

Whimsical Creations said...

What a fantastic post! She was an amazing woman.

June Freaking Cleaver said...

My grandparents (and my mom and her siblings) benefitted from Eleanor's influence on housing for unemployed mine workers. Seventy five years ago, they created a homesteading community in PA where my grandparents lived until their death. House, garage, chicken coop, acreage, seeds, baby chicks - the whole nine yards. And the government even built a sewing factory so the residents could have gainful employment.

The housing development was named in Eleanor's honor: Norvelt.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com:8000/x/pittsburghtrib/news/westmoreland/s_629492.html

Tracie said...

What a great story. I had never heard about that before. Eleanor Roosevelt really was a great woman.

Laoch of Chicago said...

Right on.

Chief said...

My son did a report on her a few years back. What a wonderful contributor to what America is all about. Maybe a Nobel Peace Prize is in order

blueviolet said...

She was a trailblazer, to be certain. Thank goodness for that!

prerna said...

Wow!! That is an amazing post.. Just wow!

stepfabulous said...

I pray often that I am raising a daughter in her likeness

Unknown Mami said...

Thank you for this post.

I have such admiration for people who stand up for what is right even when popular opinion is against them. It really is inspiring.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Go Eleanor!

And I'm with Chief, here. This is the kind of noble behavior that deserves a Nobel. She DID it; she just didn't talk about it. Again, Go Eleanor!

Little Ms J said...

Thanks for a piece of history. I learn a lot on these here blogs...

Dree said...

What a great post. She was an incredible woman!

Slamdunk said...

She was innovative. On a lighter note, I appreciate her effective use of catnaps during the day--especially when folks were giving speeches.

Jules said...

AMEN! Love women like her!

Buckeroomama said...

There should be more women like her.

Judy Sheldon-Walker said...

I love hearing about women who were a positive influence on our country's history. So little is actually mentioned. We dwell too much in negativism.

secret agent woman said...

I love that. What backbone.

Alexis AKA MOM said...

Great post and reminder of what has slide under the carpet :)