Connect with us

International Human Rights Day: The Legacy Of Eleanor Roosevelt



Eleanor Roosevelt’s biographer says if she were alive today she would celebrate the  advancement of the LGBT, economic and social human rights movements globally

Today marks International Human Rights Day around the world. It is the day that we recognize the important role and place of human rights in people’s lives who inhabit the globe from the Arab Spring uprising to the transformative elevation of women’s and girl’s human rights. Indeed, there is a planetary recognition that all people yearn to be free, despite the best efforts of despotic regimes to oppress, suppress and shackle those who are different.

This year’s International Human Rights Day celebrates the right to free speech with the tagline of “My Voice Counts” and touted in a promotional video by luminaries like Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu, an outspoken advocate for LGBT human rights, who has spoken forcefully in recent days about Uganda’s “kill the gays bill”.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), considered the foundational document from which all human rights law emanates, was drafted under the tutelage of Eleanor Roosevelt, a leader in the establishment of the United Nations after the conclusion of World War II.  Arguably, Roosevelt’s greatest legacy was the adoption of the UDHR and the development and adoption of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1977, has not been ratified) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1977 and ratified  by Congress under President George H.W. Bush in 1992).  Indeed, in 1945 she was appointed U.S. delegate to the UN by then-President Harry S. Truman where she took charge of establishing what many believed at the time, an organization that would end all wars and peacefully negotiate all disputes.

Roosevelt was no push over, according to  Blanche Wiesen Cook, Distinguished Professor at John Jay, City University New York who shared her thoughts about Roosevelt with The New Civil Rights Movement this afternoon.  Wiesen, who resides on the Upper West Side with her partner Clare Coss, is Eleanor Roosevelt’s most recent biographer and most eloquent trenchant story teller about the life of Eleanor Roosevelt, will publish a third volume of a completed trilogy next year.  It was during the short period between the end of World War II and when the Communist “Red Curtain” came down over Soviet controlled Europe that Eleanor Roosevelt pushed for the inclusion of not only civil and political rights, but also included economic and social rights. Truman told her he would not support economic and social rights because they were socialist. In a push back, according to Cook, Roosevelt told Truman she would resign, insisting you can not convince hungry people of the merit of human rights. Truman relented and asked her not to resign.

What would Eleanor Roosevelt think about the state of human rights today?

 “She would really celebrate the work of The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (U.S. based human rights organizations)–she would support the rights of all people across the globe.

How would she feel about the drone utilization of targeted killings by the U.S. government?

“Eleanor would be appalled by the drone policy and targeted killings.  Certainly, these policies contradict the UDHR.  We have upended the Magna Carta with these policies.”

How did she resolve the political issues around civil and political rights versus social and economic human rights?

“In the end she divided these rights into two different covenants, thinking she could get them through the Senate much more easily for ratification.  But it took until President George H.W. Bush to ratify the civil and political rights.”


Eleanor Roosevelt was a pioneer on a number of fronts and made a pact to remain with FDR, although he had betrayed her by engaging in a life long romantic relationship with Lucy Mercer Rutherford, and maintained a close relationship with his long serving secretary Missy Leland.  She turned to others for emotional support and intimacy, including a several-years relationship with Lorena Hickok, the first AP reporter assigned to follow the First Lady who happened to be Eleanor Roosevelt.  According to Cook, the two women loved each other and wrote daily letter that contained intensely political and loving references throughout the duration of their relationship.

Not withstanding her private and perhaps complicated life, Roosevelt was appointed U.S. Delegate to the UN where she was a force to be reckoned with and not even Harry Truman was willing to risk damaging his reputation by forcing her resignation.  Indeed, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is arguably one of Eleanor Roosevelts’s greatest achievements, and no doubt she would be amazed how that document has evolved to encompass the human rights of LGBT persons, peoples with disabilities and more recently, the embrace of indigenous peoples by the world community.


In fact, Eleanor Roosevelt’s distinguished accomplishments to establish the UDHR and the Human Rights Commission has galvanized a global movement to erect a memorial in her honor which is memorialized in the above video.  We are once again reminded why we remain  in her debt 64 years after this singular, triumphant  accomplishment that extends hope to the entire world with these words: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.

Tanya L. Domi is the Deputy Editor of the New Civil Rights Movement blog.  She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and teaches human rights in East Central Europe and former Yugoslavia.  Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi was a nationally recognized LGBT civil rights activist who worked for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force during the campaign to lift the military ban in the early 1990s. Domi has also worked internationally in a dozen countries on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights and gender issues.  She is chair of the board of directors for GetEQUAL.  Domi is currently writing a book about the emerging LGBT human rights movement in the Western Balkans.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.


Fox News Host Suggests Trump ‘Force’ Court to Throw Him in Jail – by Quoting Him



The Fox News host who targeted a juror serving on Donald Trump’s criminal New York trial is now suggesting the ex-president should violate his gag order and “force” the court to throw him in jail, by quoting the Fox News host.

Jesse Watters came under fire earlier this week for profiling juror number two, sharing possibly identifying information published by a myriad of reporters but then using that information to pass judgment on her ability to serve.

“I’m not so sure about juror number two,” Watters concluded on Fox News.

Jurors, at the judge’s direction, were to remain anonymous, for their protection and the protection of the trial.

The judge excused her, after she said she felt she was not able to be impartial because friends and family were calling her asking if she had been chosen to serve on the Trump trial, after the media blitz.

New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan admonished the press for reporting the information, but some news outlets appeared to ignore his warning.

Watters on Wednesday “did a segment with a jury consultant, revealing details about people who had been seated on the jury and questioning whether some were ‘stealth liberals’ who would be out to convict Trump,” the Associated Press reported.

READ MORE: Gaetz: ‘Corrupt’ Republicans Could ‘Take a Bribe’ and Throw House to Dems, Blocking Trump Run

Trump later posted Watters’ quote on his Truth Social platform, leading some, including New York prosecutors, to ask the judge to cite him for allegedly breaking his gag order.

Judge Merchan ordered Trump to not mention witnesses, jurors, prosecutors, court staff, or the family members of prosecutors and court staff, CNN has reported.

New York prosecutors told Juge Merchan Trump has violated the gag order at least ten times.

“Prosecutor Christopher Conroy described the ‘most disturbing’ example as a social media message Trump posted on Wednesday evening quoting a Fox News host as saying, ‘They are catching undercover Liberal Activists lying to the Judge in order to get on the Trump Jury,'” Politico reports.

That host was Jesse Watters.

RELATED: ‘Afraid and Intimidated’: Trump Trial Juror Targeted by Fox News Dismissed

Friday afternoon, Watters appeared to egg Trump on, urging the ex-president to violate the gag order.

“I would make them put me in jail,” Watters said on Fox News. “I would have a tweet about something perhaps I said on ‘The Five’ or ‘Jesse Watters Primetime,’ and I would force them to throw me in jail.”

Watch Watters’ remark below or at this link.


Continue Reading


Gaetz: ‘Corrupt’ Republicans Could ‘Take a Bribe’ and Throw House to Dems, Blocking Trump Run



U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) says some of his fellow House Republicans would “take a bribe” to throw the razor-thin GOP majority to the Democrats if a far-right faction calls up a motion to oust Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, allowing Democrats to hand the gavel to the Minority Leader, Hakeem Jeffries. he warned if that happens, Democrats would immediately declare Trump ineligible to be President, pack the U.S. Supreme Court, and pass numerous laws like the American Rescue Plan.

“I do believe in a one seat majority there could be one or two or three of my colleagues who would take a bribe in one form or another in order to deprive the Republicans of a majority at all,” Gaetz said Friday on his podcast (video below.)

He added, “the risk that one or two of my corrupt Republican colleagues might take a bribe, take a walk, feign an ailment and flip this thing to the Democrats is a risk that is too high for me at this time.”

Gaetz’s fellow far-right Florida Republican member of Congress, Anna Paulina Luna, told listeners, “I heard that when, if and when the motion vacate is introduced, that there will be immediate resignations of a couple of more moderate members of Congress. And in the event that that happens, that ultimately means it does go to a Democrat speaker.”

RELATED: Jeffries Vows Democrats Will Ensure Ukraine Aid Passes as Johnson Defectors Grow

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) last month filed a “motion to vacate,” which she can use at any time to force a vote to oust the GOP Speaker, Mike Johnson. U.S. Rep. Tim Massie (R-KY) and just today, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has signed on as co-sponsors.

Congressman Gaetz told listeners if Democrats do take the House through a force vote to remove Johnson, Democrats would “be declaring Donald Trump an insurrectionist and setting up a barrier to him being able to become the president United States.”

“That’ll be their leadoff hitter, and then the chaser to that shot will be a massive spending package that looks a lot more like the American Rescue Plan. They will blow past every concept of every cap ever imagined. You’ll be looking at Universal Basic Income, you could be looking at packing the Supreme Court.”

Watch a short clip of Gaetz’s remarks below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Stop Bringing Up Nazis and Hitler’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Smacked Down by Democrats

Continue Reading


Jeffries Vows Democrats Will Ensure Ukraine Aid Passes as Johnson Defectors Grow



Democratic House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries vowed Friday the majority of Democrats will support Republicans’ Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and Gaza foreign aid legislation as Republican Speaker Mike Johnson lost support of another member of his conference to a faction determined to oust him.

“Democrats will provide a majority of our majority as it relates to funding Israel, humanitarian assistance, Ukraine, and our allies in the Indo Pacific,” Minority Leader Jeffries said. “It remains to be seen what Republicans will do in terms of meeting the national security needs of the American people, but it was important for House Democrats to ensure that the national security bills are going to be considered.”

Despite Republicans having a one-vote majority, more Democrats on Friday voted to move the critical and long-awaited foreign aid bills forward than did Republicans.

READ MORE: ‘Stop Bringing Up Nazis and Hitler’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Smacked Down by Democrats

The 316-94 vote included 165 Democrats and 151 Republicans voting yes, and 55 Republicans and 39 Democrats voting no.

Axios’ Juliegrace Brufke posted the list of Republicans voting against their party’s legislation.

Calling it a “rare” moment in modern congressional history to have to rely on opposition party votes to pass legislation, BBC News reports Speaker Johnson’s “hold on power is tenuous, and the legislators who oppose him – and his bid to provide aid to Ukraine – occupy some key positions within the House’s power structure.”

Amid the procedural vote to move the foreign aid funding bills forward, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, a far-right Republican of Arizona, announced he is joining Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), and Congressman Tim Massie (R-KY) in formally announcing their will vote to oust Speaker Johnson.

Gosar, like Greene, is reportedly a Christian nationalist. In 2022 CNN reported his “lengthy ties to White nationalists, [a] pro-Nazi blogger and far-right fringe received little pushback for years.”

RELATED: ‘Repercussions’: Democrats and Republicans Stand Against ‘Pro-Putin’ House GOP Faction

“We’ve been very honest in our assessment of the situation from the beginning,” Jeffries on Friday also declared. “At the appropriate time as House Democrats, we will have a conversation about how to deal with any hypothetical motion to vacate.”

“Moscow Marjorie Taylor Greene, Massie, and Gosar are quite a group. But central to our conversation is to make sure that the national security legislation in totality is passed by the House of Representatives.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.


Continue Reading


Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.