Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born on October 11, 1884 in New York and passed away on November 7, 1962. She was the First Lady of the U.S. from 1933 to 1945, but was greatly admired because of her active participation in social causes.
When she was 8 years of age, her mother passed on and her father also passed on about two years later; consequently, her maternal grandmother raised her. When she was twenty years old, she married her distant cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, of whom they had six children together, although one died in childhood.
When her husband became the 32nd president of the U.S., she used her influence to revolutionize the position of the first lady (Chew 1995). Even though she was generally a shy person, her humanitarian work earned her fame and admiration all over the world.
During her years as the First Lady, she made herself to be a strong speaker on various social issues that were affecting the United States. These issues included, but were not limited to, youth unemployment and civil rights for African Americans and women. Eleanor also showed concern for the Jews and assisted them to endure the persecutions of the Germans.
She labored with diligence, confidence, experience, and ingenuity to fulfill her ambitions. Though dead, she is still recognized as one of the influential women who ever lived due to her immense achievements, endurance to make the world better, and determination to realize her objectives; consequently, in 1999, she was one of the top ten people who were named in the Gallup’s List of Most Widely Admired People of the Twentieth Century.
Benefitting humanity formed an integral aspect of the life of Eleanor. Through her tireless efforts, she made several achievements in social and political matters (Winget 2003, 5). When the United States entered the First World War, she volunteered for the Red Cross. She cared for the injured soldiers and supplied their various needs.
Through participating actively in social work during the war, she demonstrated her compassion for the civic affairs and created a niche for herself.
A notable role that she played was to speak out for women so as to ensure that they are regarded to be equal to men. In 1928, she assisted in the creation of the countrywide web of active units of Democratic women since she held that women were capable of achieving the same things just as men, particularly in politics.
As an active participant in the League of Women Voters, she enabled many women to exercise their responsibilities as voters and to increase their knowledge of various public policy issues. Due to her expertise in dealing with both men and women, she managed to educate many women on their rights as American citizens.
Eleanor’s fortitude to ensure that women are equal to men assisted in establishing various organizations to fight for their rights. Being an outspoken leader, Eleanor motivated women from all walks of life to speak out concerning the equal rights that men were also enjoying and this made her to change the perceptions of individuals concerning the role of the woman in the world.
This achievement proved to be beneficial for the women society and it assisted in establishing later reforms in women affairs.
During her public life, Eleanor also showed compassion on the mistreatment of the Jewish people. The thought that Hitler was planning to eliminate all the Jews from the face of the world brought up heavy emotions in her.
Her concern on the survivors of the holocaust made her to participate in the memorial service of the incident and she managed to assist the survivors of the torture escape death, including getting travel documents to other parts of Europe.
The giving of visas to the Jewish young people was another thing that she made efforts to accomplish so that they could escape the concentration camps and the gas chambers. Although it was a bit difficult for her to convince those in authority to assist the Jews, she managed to accomplish it.
Further, the First Lady was especially interested in the plight of the African Americans who were living in the United States. She often proved to be supportive and encouraged the efforts that were aimed at ensuring there is equality for all the American people.
Worth mentioning, she highly esteemed the works of Negroes who motivated her to try to enact changes in ending racial practices. At one point, she allowed some delinquent African American women to come to the White House for a celebration.
Even though some individuals criticized her for trying to accommodate the Negro people, she never relented from doing what she perceived to be the right thing to do. Eleanor also relinquished her position at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) since the group declined to give an African American singer, Marian Anderson, the opportunity of presenting at their performance hall (Somervill 2006, 9).
She made sacrifices like this so as to assist the African Americans to obtain the rights that they were being denied by the American society. And, interestingly, she never paid attention on how people perceived her actions.
Eleanor took part in the war effort for the second time when the U.S. entered the Second World War in which she became the assistant director of the Office of Civilian Defense (OCD), encouraged civilians to take part in the war effort, and visited U.S. troops’ overseas (Freedman 1993, 135-136).
Even after her spouse passed away in office in 1945, she persisted in writing, giving inspiring speeches in various places around the world, and fighting for the betterment of the life of the minorities.
Eleanor was appointed as a delegate to the UN General Assembly in 1945, a position she held for seven years. And, in 1946, she was “appointed the chairperson of the United Nation’s Human Rights Commission” (Freedman, 1993, 152). After her appointment to this position, she assisted in the formulation of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In 1961, she was elected again to the General Assembly and later in that year, President Kennedy elected her the chairperson of the Commission on the Status of Women. She served well in these positions because she was considered an expert in humanitarian, social, and cultural issues.
In conclusion, through her relentless efforts, Eleanor contributed immensely to the society of humanity. She is recognized as a role model to many since the things she managed to accomplish came from her heart. Eleanor’s love for people including women, Jews, and African Americans, made her succeed in making the human race better than before. Her achievements resulted in more equality between the different kinds of people. That is what she did to benefit humanity and it was her gift to the human race.
Chew, Robin. 1995. “Eleanor Roosevelt American First Lady & Humanitarian.”
Lucidcafe, October 1, http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/95oct/roosevel.html (accessed February 8, 2011).
Freedman, Russel. 1993. Eleanor Roosevelt: a life of discovery. New York: Clarion Books.
Somervill, Barbara A. 2006. Eleanor Roosevelt : First Lady of the world. Minneapolis, Minn.: Compass Point Books.
Winget, Mary. 2003. Eleanor Roosevelt. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications.