Eleanor Roosevelt’s Cold War Dilemma | Facing History & Ourselves

Eleanor Roosevelt’s Cold War Dilemma

Carol Anderson discusses Eleanor Roosevelt’s struggle to balance her support of civil and human rights with domestic and international politics and policy during the Cold War.
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English — US


  • Civics & Citizenship
  • History
  • Democracy & Civic Engagement
  • Human & Civil Rights

Eleanor Roosevelt’s Cold War Dilemma

When you've got an absolutely revered former First Lady who has moved her chair into the middle of an aisle because she refuses to sit with Jim Crow, who has worked to have Marian Anderson sing at the Lincoln Memorial, who is on the board of directors of the NAACP, it's sending the signal that this struggle for civil rights is absolutely grounded in Americana. That it is not foreign. It is in fact as basic and as American as apple pie.

Whereas I think Eleanor was absolutely powerful as a symbol for this struggle for equality in the United States, I think we need to be very clear that we don't mythologize her. One of the pieces of Eleanor is that she's a cold warrior. I mean, this is fighting this struggle for equality within the Cold War.

And there are times when she's sitting in her position as the Chair of the Commission on Human Rights, where she's making decisions, where she's prioritizing, is the priority going to be fighting the struggle against the Soviet Union or fighting the struggle for Black equality? And when it became that discussion, the Soviet Union won out.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s Cold War Dilemma

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