Eleanor Roosevelt: “We will all go ahead together, or we will all go down together”

On Friday morning, 11 May 1934, Eleanor Roosevelt attended the National Conference on Fundamental Problems in the Education of Negroes in Washington D.C. This was an event sponsored by the U.S. Office of Education, the precursor of the Department of Education.

Eleanor gave a very forceful speech on the issue of Black America, but after reading some of her words, I think it applies generally to modern America as well.

Mind you, this was in 1934!

[You] can have no part of your population beaten down and expect the rest of the country not to feel the effects from the big groups that are underprivileged…

To deny any part of a population the opportunities for more enjoyment in life, for higher aspirations is a menace to the nation as a whole. There has been too much concentrating wealth, and even if it means that some of us have got to learn to be a little more unselfish about sharing what we have … we must realize that it will profit us all in the long run.

I think the day of selfishness is over; the day of really working together has come, … all of us, regardless of race or creed or color; we must wipe out … any feeling … of intolerance, of belief that any one group can go ahead alone. We will all go ahead together, or we will all go down together.

Eleanor Roosevelt, 11 May 1934

Eleanor’s May 1934 address was broadcast nationally over the NBC network and inspired activists in Washington and throughout the country. I believe her words are still an inspiration today.

Thanks for reading,




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