The day that Eleanor Roosevelt went down into a coal mine is a day that will live in infamy. I was only two years old on that day, so I didn’t hear about it for at least four years after it happened. But believe me, this outrage was still being discussed long after it happened.
You can read about this famous event at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leo-hindery-jr/eleanor-roosevelt-tours-c_b_509605.html
Young people today might have a hard time understanding why Eleanor’s two-mile trip into a coal mine was considered so outrageous. Women didn’t do things like that in 1935. Now there is a good chance that we might have a woman president in the USA.
There is currently an ad for Progressive Insurance in which Flo is pictured as a housewife, back in the old days when women were seen, not heard. At the end of the commercial, a man says to Flo “Where is your husband?” That’s what everyone said to Eleanor: “Where is your husband?” Very few people knew that Franklin Delano Roosevelt could not walk.
This quote is from the news story:
Eleanor Roosevelt, a consistent advocate for workers and workers’ rights, on May 21, 1935, shocked the nation — and the editors of the nations’ newspapers — by touring a coal mine.
According to the New York Times, Mrs. Roosevelt “smiling with eagerness as she reached the mine shaft” declined the new pair of overalls provided for her, donned a grey coat and a miner’s hard hat, and headed two miles into the mine. For over an hour and a half she discussed wages and working conditions, safety precautions and mining methods with the four hundred miners, black with coal dust, working in the two-mile stretch. (Many believe she was the first woman ever to go underground in Appalachia, defying both an age-old superstition that it brought bad luck for a woman to go into a coal mine and the equally long-held bias against women in the workplace.)
It is important to this story to also know that back on June 3, 1933, just three months after FDR’s inauguration, a New Yorker magazine cartoon, with an especially cruel caricature of Mrs. Roosevelt, ridiculed the idea that she might ever dare go into a coal mine. Well now she had gone into one, forthrightly, courageously and with great sensitivity for the workers she met.
So why am I writing about this, you ask? This illustrates how the world has changed. Yet the story of the Holocaust goes on and on…rarely changing with the times.