FROM THE CHS ARCHIVES: FORMER FIRST LADY ADDRESSES COLUMBIA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS by Carol Petrallia
Eleanor Roosevelt, former first lady of the United States, First Delegate to the United Nations, author, and activist, spoke to students, faculty, and guests on March 9, 1953, in the Columbia High School auditorium. Student members of the Platform Club invited her to speak on a subject of her choice.
The following excerpts from articles about Eleanor Roosevelt’s remarks published in CHS’ weekly newspaper The Columbian are presented here.
Mrs. Roosevelt, as chairman of the Human Rights Commission, participated in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the U.N. General Assembly adopted in 1948 by a 48-0 vote. The bill is unique in that it marks the first time in history that a declaration of individual rights and freedoms has been recognized officially on an international basis. Mrs. Roosevelt served with distinction in the U.N. from 1945 to 1952 and for her service received the first annual Franklin Delano Roosevelt Brotherhood Award in 1946 and the first American Award in Human Relations in 1949. Her earlier experience included a position as Assistant Director of Civilian Defense in 1941-2. Besides being a noted stateswoman, Mrs. Roosevelt is also an author of repute. Among her many books are “If You Ask Me,” published in 1946, and “This I Remember,” published in 1949.
The culmination of several months of planning by Tony Levy, Martha Max, and the Platform Club sponsored by Miss Lipcsei, took place at an assembly at 2 p.m. Monday, March 9 when the student body and several hundred guests heard an address by Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Preceding the assembly, Mrs. Roosevelt was entertained at a luncheon with student leaders and members of the faculty, Miss Henderson, Mr. Sheeley, Mr. Amsden, and Mr. Threlkeld.
Some of the topics touched on were “Why are American soldiers fighting in Korea?” and “Does atomic power mean destruction or progress?” She stressed the point that if the UN proves victorious in Korea, collective security, will be vindicated. If Americans do not fight for this principle in Korea, they will fight alone on our own soil. Atomic energy control and cooperation between nations are vital to world peace, said Mrs. Roosevelt.
The speaker cautioned against discouragements and apathy: “Don’t become so intimidated by the trend of events that you forget that life is worth living as an adventure.”
Living in a strife-torn world such as ours, patience and persistence are two of the necessary qualities needed for supremacy. “People without courage will never survive.”
Questioned informally about the threat of communism in America, Mrs. Roosevelt commented that our hope here is the stability of a great middle class whose living standards are comfortable. In contrast to the U.S., she mentioned the communist threat in places like India and Chile where great masses can “barely keep body and soul together.”
Mrs. Roosevelt also feels that our economy has learned how to handle recessions and expressions. “When I was a little girl, living with my grandmother in New York, we saw bread lines, and the 7th regiment was called out to quell riots, particularly near Delmonico’s a fashionable restaurant where people could be seen through the windows dining in luxury.” Young people of today cannot be expected to remember these things, she went on, but can take comfort in the fact that experience has taught our business men that they must “think of people.”