Famous today as a human rights giant, feminist pathfinder and role model, few have had to overcome the glaring life pauses that Eleanor Roosevelt experienced, to achieve so much. Yet most of the active steps she took to “unpause”, especially in the critical period after her child-bearing years had come to an end, and her marriage was imperilled, are there to see.
In two bonus episodes of Unpaused, I chart the early life of Eleanor Roosevelt and her awakening as one of the most influential voices of the 20th century.
One part of her long life-story is especially relevant today. Eleanor’s first public denunciation of racism occurred in 1939 when the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow acclaimed black American contralto, Marian Anderson, to sing at Constitution Hall in Washington DC, because of her skin colour. Writing in her daily column, My Day, Eleanor resigned from the DAR and helped arrange for Anderson to sing before an audience of more 75,000 at the Lincoln Memorial. This determined act forever identified the First Lady as a champion of equal rights for African Americans and began for her a long journey as a prominent standard-bearer for the cause until the end of her life.
(Featured collage of ER by Angela Cerasi)