Eleanor Roosevelt Advice Columnist: What would Eleanor Do?

I love NPR. I heard a story on Fresh Air the other day about a new book that takes a look at Eleanor Roosevelt’s long career as an advice columnist.

eyeglasses beside bowl of food and magazine on table

The Fresh Air story has compelled me to buy the new book, If You Ask Me: Essential Advice from Eleanor Roosevelt. Her perspective seems real and frank. I’m excited to learn more. From the article:

Roosevelt wasn’t especially witty or psychologically acute in the role; unlike many of today’s inspirational “life coaches,” Roosevelt didn’t invite her readers to accompany her on extended journeys of introspection. …

But one of the things Roosevelt did have going for herself as a counselor and dispenser of practical wisdom was the fact that she was so real. She clearly was not performing, nor winking at her readers; and she certainly wasn’t checking in with a public relations team before weighing in on questions ranging from the death penalty (anti), birth control (pro) and how soon a widow might begin dating again after the loss of a beloved husband. (“Heavens above!” Roosevelt exclaimed in a column in 1946. “You can decently be seen with other men whenever you feel like going out again. This is your life …”)

Eleanor Roosevelt was someone I admired from an early age. Most of it stems from the movie Annie. Just kidding! But that movie introduced me to the Roosevelts long before I learned in school about their contributions to America. Eleanor Roosevelt was a trailblazer by advocating for civil rights even resigning from the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1939 after the group refused to allow an African-American singer to perform in their facility. She even served as the chair of the U.N. Human Rights Commission in 1946 and helped draft what would go on to be known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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