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Honoring Eleanor Roosevelt – 10/11/11

November 29, 2011

by Yumeno Toyoda, Intern

On October 11th, 2011, the Women’s History Graduate Program of Sarah Lawrence College presented a lecture which honored Eleanor Roosevelt on her birthday. Co-sponsors included The Southern New York State Division of UNA-USA, League of Women Voters of Bronxville, Eastchester and Tuckahoe (B.E.T.), Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Omicron Eta Chapter Westchester Country.

The program celebrated the recent publication of the book She Was One Of Us: Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Worker, written by Brigid O’Farrell.  In addition to the author, speakers included Dr. Rona L. Holub, Director of the Women’s History Graduate Program at Sarah Lawrence College, Brenda Smith, Program Chair of UNA-USA Westchester, Brandeis Crookendale, President of Omicron Eta Chapter and Alpha Kappa Alpha and Susan Weisfeld, Program Coordinator of League of Women Voters of B.E.T.  Franklin D. Roosevelt III, Professor Emeritus at Sarah Lawrence College and grandson of Eleanor Roosevelt, spoke about his grandmother and how he came to understand the importance of her work with the American labor movement.

Ms. O’Farrell’s lecture recognized that Eleanor Roosevelt had great influence on human rights for workers and women. The wife of the United States president, she was one of the most influential women of her time and one of the most admired women of the United States.  In 1936, as a columnist and author, she joined Writers Guild of America, thus showing her support for the American worker. After her husband died, E.R. (as she was called by the speaker) was elected to represent the U.S. in the First General Assembly of the United Nations in 1945. Her work for the United Nation Commission for Human Rights started shortly afterward. 

Eleanor Roosevelt spoke of human rights as civil rights that could fit everywhere — in schools, offices, families.  She argued, “Every one of us can do small things” that lead to making the world a better place to live and work.In the lecture, there were a few impressive phrases from Eleanor Roosevelt. Like…

“You must do the things you think you cannot do.”

“We have to improve work conditions all over the world.”

Her work and ideas preceded Globalization.  The United Nations and other organizations have just started to think about it but Eleanor Roosevelt already spoke about such ideas in 1933. From her words and works, you can see how Eleanor Roosevelt had major impact on not only Human Rights but also on the labor movement in the world.

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