1940 March 14

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt Endorses Civil Liberties


First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt on this day delivered a speech on civil liberties to a meeting of the Chicago Civil Liberties Committee. Eleanor was stronger on most civil liberties and human rights issues than her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. On a number of occasions she was publicly outspoken in support of racial justice, while he never made a definitive public speech on the subject. Eleanor raised questions about the Japanese-American evacuation in early 1942, but then fell silent when he made it clear he did not want to hear any more about it.

Roosevelt: “I am more conscious of the importance of civil liberties in the particular moment of our history than anyone else, because as I travel through the country and meet people and see things that have happened to little people, I realize what it means to democracy to preserve our civil liberties.”

Read the full speech at the FDR Library: http://www.gwu.edu/~erpapers/documents/articles/civilliberties.cfm

Learn more about Eleanor Roosevelt: Blanche Wiesen Cook, Eleanor Roosevelt (1992)

Read other writings and speeches by Eleanor Roosevelt: Alida M. Black, Courage in a Dangerous World: The Political Writings of Eleanor Roosevelt (1999)

Learn more about Eleanor Roosevelt as First Lady: http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/first-ladies/eleanorroosevelt

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