Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and MuseumVirtual Tour
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First Lady of the World:  Civil Rights Champion

Civil Rights Champion

When she left the White House, ER shed the constraints it imposed on her civil rights activities. In 1945, she joined the boards of the NAACP and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Soon she was lobbying President Truman to end the poll tax and establish a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission. ER used her My Day column to criticize segregated schools and other racial injustices and to rally support for civil rights activists and court challenges. She helped raise money during the Montgomery bus boycott and drafted a civil rights platform plank at the 1956 Democratic Convention.

During her last years, ER became impatient with the pace of racial reform. The violence against the Freedom Riders in 1961 provoked her anger. She began identifying more strongly with activists who were struggling to end segregation through direct action.
Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum Home Page   National Archives and Records Administration
Lobby Foundations of a Public Life A New Deal FDR's "Act of Faith" The Promise of Change America, 1932: A Nation in Fear Temporary Exhibit Gallery War!  Lower level FDR's Death and Legacy First Lady Behind the scenes Legacy Draft for magazine article on segregation with ER's handwritten notes, 1959.