2016, Mirror Image Edutainment, Alan John Mayer
Recently, I watched the biography of Eleanore Roosevelt. It was Mrs. Roosevelt who, already as early as 1932, was setting the building blocks for the Civil Rights Movement. My 19th century father, and my two 19th century American Aunts Leanna and Kaye, were fond of our former first lady. So fond, I am sure my Aunt Leanna would have liked to kiss her on the lips. Why not? Eleanore had no problem kissing her girlfriends in public, on camera even, on the lips, and she had a female companion by her side every day for nearly forty years, while the president pursued other interests.
I knew Eleanore Roosevelt made many contributions to American life. What I did not know, was for over three decades, Eleanore Roosevelt was the most powerful woman (maybe person) not only in America, but in the world.
Mrs. Roosevelt denounced McCarthy
and his communist trials
as a witch hunt,
and to prove they were harmless,
the first lady invited seven young members
of a Communist group into her limousine
and escorted them to the White House
to dine with her and the president.
Mrs. Roosevelt proclaimed human rights for all citizens, not only the elite white male voices that were running the country. Wherever Mrs. Roosevelt saw injustice, poverty, or hunger, she encouraged her husband, often reluctantly, to support social causes. One biographer said, “when it comes to cleaning up America, Mrs. Roosevelt has the housewife equivalent of the unending need to re-decorate.”
A contemporary cartoon pictured Virginia mine workers with the caption, “Oh no! Here comes Mrs. Roosevelt.”
In 1948, three years after the death of her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the only American president to be elected for four (consecutive) terms, Mrs. Roosevelt headed the first United Nations congress, with the intent of creating, and agreeing upon an international proclamation of Brotherhood. Amid hundreds of men, as the only woman, she not only succeeded in achieving the mission, she shone, and she did it with her own brand of twinkling humor. I dare say it was even twisted.
“I knew, if I failed, there would never be another woman in the congress again” she said.
When U.S. Civil Service bodyguards told Mrs. Roosevelt the Klu Klux Klan (bigoted cowards of fear) had placed a $25,000.00 bounty on her head (millions in today’s dollars) and they could not protect her where she had agreed to speak to a group of blacks behind Klu Klux Klan territory, Mrs. Roosevelt, with a friend, drove through the Klu Klux Klan territory, at night, and kept her commitment to speak.
“As a child, I was told ‘you must never allow fear to show’,” Mrs. Roosevelt told a biographer. Good advice, it seems. This was one courageous woman who did not acknowledge fear.
When the Daughters of the American Revolution (of which Mrs. Roosevelt was a longtime member) refused to allow African American singer Marian Anderson sing in their concert hall, Mrs. Roosevelt publicly resigned her membership to DAR, and created a national controversy which ended with Mrs. Roosevelt arranging to have Marian Anderson sing our national anthem on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, to national exposure, to an audience hundreds of times the size had the singer been limited to singing behind walls.
It was this sweet revenge, a first, pushed through by First Lady Eleanore Roosevelt, that paved the way for Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech twenty-nine years later, as well as all the movements that followed.
“My County ‘Tis of Thee Sweet Land of Liberty”
Caveat: Of course, there are always rats in the walls. J. Edgar Hoover, a closeted homosexual transvestite whose lover of thirty years was one of his colleagues, spied on everything Mrs. Roosevelt did, labeled her dangerous to the American way of life, and created a file over thirty thousand pages long describing every activity, every word the first lady ever spoke. What a case.
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