This biography of Eleanor Roosevelt portrays her as a tireless champion of the underdog and a high-profile advocate for civil and human rights.
Using her subject’s first name, Cooper focuses on Eleanor’s involvement in the civil rights movement but notes that even in her 30s she “paid virtually no attention to the difficulties of African Americans who faced prejudice every day…despite the fact she was aware of the turmoil in the black community.” Not until she was first lady did racial injustice gain Eleanor’s full attention, partly due to her surrounding herself with such activists as Mary McLeod Bethune, Walter White, and Pauli Murray. Cooper writes that an awakening came when she helped raise money for Arthurdale, a planned community in West Virginia for out-of-work coal miners. Eleanor was shocked to learn that whites who had lived together with blacks in poverty for decades refused to let them join the community. This led Eleanor to understand “how corrosive the systemic segregation of African Americans was.” Cooper chronicles how she did everything possible to keep civil rights a focus of the Roosevelt administration, including such piquant details as her insistence on attending a public event against the advice of the FBI and with her pistol to protect herself against the Klan, which had issued a $25,000 bounty. Cooper is silent on Roosevelt’s romantic relations with other women, however.
A muscular and admiring profile in moral courage. (photos, timeline, notes, bibliography) (Biography. 10-14)