Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ku Klux Klan put a bounty of $25,000 on Eleanor Roosevelt’s head because they didn't want her teaching people how to protest discrimination. 1958

"We can't afford to have two kinds of citizens, We must have equal citizenship for anybody in our country." Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt, No Ordinary Woman

By Maggie Reichers

The Ku Klux Klan once put a $25,000 bounty on Eleanor Roosevelt's head. She was in her seventies then and as outspoken about civil rights as she had been as First Lady. The year was 1958.

The Klan had learned that she was to speak in June at a workshop on methods of protest at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee. The FBI warned her that it could not protect her and suggested that she not go. Eleanor thanked her caller for the warning, but decided she was going anyway, and flew to Nashville.

"This elderly white woman picks up a seventy-four-year-old Eleanor Roosevelt," relates historian Allida Black. "And here they are. They're going to go through the Klan. They're going to stand down the Klan. They get in their car, they put a loaded pistol on the front seat between them, and they drive up at night through the mountains to this tiny labor school to conduct a workshop on how to break the law. And she drove through the Klan to do it." Black is one of the people interviewed in Eleanor Roosevelt,a new NEH-funded documentary in The American Experience series. It airs in January on public television.

Eleanor Roosevelt's willingness to take stands, to be unpopular, is treated in the film, which was produced by Kathryn Dietz and Sue Williams of Ambrica Productions. It covers events ranging from her decision as a young woman to work with the poor in New York City to her years in the White House when she pushed for the rights of African Americans, to her time at the United Nations when she parried with the world's most powerful statesmen. Photo

"We think we know Eleanor Roosevelt because she's so familiar, but usually her story is woven into the stories of her uncle, Theodore Roosevelt, or of her husband," says Dietz. "But she was active in politics earlier than Franklin and lived beyond him, with the last years of her life her most productive. People will be surprised at how tough and how political she was and what a rich personal life she had. Nobody had done a comprehensive film about her life," says Dietz. "The last film was done in 1966 before women's studies became a field of study and spawned a new level of scholarship."

With new scholarly research available and interviews with historians and family and friends of the First Lady, the filmmakers were able to focus on Eleanor as a historical figure independent of her family and husband. The film, which is narrated by actress Alfre Woodard, at times uses Eleanor Roosevelt's own voice to describe events and her feelings about them. The producers were able to use the clips from the 1940 Democratic Convention, where she played a pivotal role, and early 1960s interviews where she spoke about her late husband. They also culled hundreds of tapes of her voice at the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library. "Nobody had looked at them just for Eleanor," says Williams. "You can tell the story of her life without focusing on FDR." Read complete article - By Maggie Reichers

Photo - The Savvy, Salty Political Saint – Newsweek – History *** Eleanor Roosevelt was not just an idealistic First Lady. As a new collection of papers reveals, she was also a smart, disciplined and unabashed strategist.

Human Rights and Human Freedom: An American View - Eleanor Roosevelt

I realize that the other delegates speak from different points of view and I understand why to them this seems different from what it does to me.

I cannot remember a political or a religious refugee being sent out of my country since the Civil War. At that time I do remember that one of my own relatives, because he came to this country and built a ship that ran contraband to the South, was not included in the amnesty. But since then this has not been a question that has entered into my thinking.

Europe has had a succession of wars and changes in population, as well as changes in ownership of land; and therefore it is natural that we approach the question from a different point of view; but we here in the United Nations are trying to frame things which will be broader in outlook, which will consider first the rights of man, which will consider what makes man more free: not governments but man.

I happen to come from the United States. I used in the committee an example: I am going to use it again; it is purely hypothetical. We happen to have an island in the Caribbean called Puerto Rico. Now in Puerto Rico there are several factions. One faction would like to become another State. Another faction would like to be entirely free. Another faction would like to stay just the way they are in their relation to the United States.

Suppose, just for the sake of supposing, that we had a refugee camp. We belong to the United Nations, but are we going to say that the Puerto Ricans, who happen to want to be free from the United States, shall receive no-letters from home, none of their home papers, no letters perhaps from people who have gone to live in other places or information from other places? I think that we can stand up under having them free to get whatever information comes their way and make up their own minds. They are free human beings.

What is propaganda? Are we so weak in the United Nations, are we as individual nations so weak that we are going to forbid human beings to say what they think and fear whatever their friends and their particular type of mind happens to believe in? Surely we can tell them, their own Governments can tell them, all we want to tell them. We are not preventing them from hearing what each country wants them to hear, but we are saying, for instance, that in the United States we have people who have come there from war-torn Europe. They are in two different camps. They will write their relatives as they hear they are in different camps in Europe and they may not always say things that are exactly polite or in agreement with the United Nations. They may even say things against the United States, but I still think it is their right to say them and it is the right of men in refugee camps and women to hear them and to make their own decisions. Photo

I object to "no propaganda against the United Nations or any member of the United Nations." It is like saying you are always sure you are going to be right. I am not always sure my Government or my nation will be right. I hope it will be and I shall do my best to keep it as right as I can keep it, and so, I am sure, will every other nation. But there are people who are going to disagree and I think we aim to reach a point where we on whole are so right that the majority of our people will be with us and we can always stand having among us the people who do not agree, because we are sure that the right is so carefully guarded among us and the freedom of people is so carefully guarded that we will always have the majority with us.

For that reason I oppose including in a report which we have to accept, this amendment, which I consider restrictive of human rights and human freedom. Read complete article - Eleanor Roosevelt on Human Rights: -> Human Rights and Human Freedom: An American View (1946) Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt - On the Adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Mr. President, fellow delegates:

The long and meticulous study and debate of which this Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the product means that it reflects the composite views of the many men and governments who have contributed to its formulation. Not every man nor every government can have what he wants in a document of this kind. There are of course particular provisions in the Declaration before us with which we are not fully satisfied. I have no doubt this is true of other delegations, and it would still be true if we continued our labors over many years. Taken as a whole the Delegation of the United States believes that this is a good document -- even a great document -- and we propose to give it our full support. The position of the United States on the various parts of the Declaration is a matter of record in the Third Committee. I shall not burden the Assembly, and particularly my colleagues of the Third Committee, with a restatement of that position here... Read or listen to Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt complete address - Audio mp3 of Address

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