In Women’s History Month, Youth for Human Rights is celebrating Eleanor Roosevelt given the credit for laying the foundation for human and civil rights, as well as declared as the international global standard for human rights today.
Mrs. Roosevelt lobbied for the United States to join the United Nation, and she later became the country’s first representative. She was the first head of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and she oversaw the development and ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948.
Women and Civil Rights
Eleanor Roosevelt, an advocate, and pioneer for both women’s and civil rights established regular White House news conferences for female correspondents. Newspapers and wire agencies that did not previously employ women were pushed to do so in order to have a representative present at the White House in the event of breaking news. Mrs. Roosevelt is not only a supporter of female journalists, but she was one herself. She began writing a daily syndicated newspaper column called “My Day” in 1936.
Conference on Human Welfare
Eleanor Roosevelt confidently spoke in support of racial rights. At a meeting on human welfare in 1938, Whites and Blacks openly mixed with one another. When Birmingham City Commissioner Bull Conner ordered the conference to be segregated, it was done by segregating black people on one side and white people on the other. Mrs. Roosevelt sat with the African Americans on the side, and a police officer tapped her on the shoulder and instructed her to get up. Mrs. Roosevelt slid her folding chair between the black and white portions of the auditorium.
When the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused to let Marian Anderson, a famed African American in a free concert, perform in Constitution Hall due to her skin color, Roosevelt resigned her membership in the DAR and organized a free concert at the Lincoln Memorial for 75,000 people. This was the Memorial’s debut concert, and it made a powerful political statement in 1939. The performance was opened by Harold LeClair Ickes, the then-Secretary of the Interior, who gave a stirring address against discrimination. Roosevelt was named chair of President John F. Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women in 1961, and she worked on it until shortly before her death.