Roosevelt, Eleanor (1884–1962)
Ms. Roosevelt became active in politics following the polio attack on her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1921. During his administration, she travelled around the United States, assessing social conditions and reporting public opinion to the President.
She actively supported such values as child welfare, human rights, social reform, and equal rights for women. ‘Too often the great decisions are originated and given form in bodies made up wholly of men, or so completely dominated by them that whatever of special value women have to offer is shunted aside without expression.’ ‘The battle for the individual rights of women is one of long standing, and none of us should countenance anything which undermines it.’
An early advocate for establishment of the United Nations, she stated, ‘I cannot believe that war is the best solution. No one won the last war, and no one will win the next war. Anyone who thinks must think of the next war as they would of suicide.’
Following President Roosevelt’s death, she was appointed as a delegate to the United Nations. She served in this capacity in 1945, 1945–1952, and 1961. As chair of the first Commission on Human Rights in 1948, she inspired and helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. President Kennedy appointed her director of the first Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, which influenced creation of the National Association for Women.
Throughout her lifetime of actions benefiting humanity, Ms. Roosevent demonstrated courage, perseverance, and a deep understanding of the challenges, dignity, and worth of all human beings. She stated, ‘You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along. You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.’
‘People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.’ –Eleanor Roosevelt