Monday, July 1, 2013

Childhood Idols that helped me grow to be a better person.

Have you ever thought about your childhood idols, who they were and why? Do you still see them the same as you did then?

The people I idolized growing up were from very different lifestyles but each contributed in their own way to our country.

I was in awe of Martin Luther King, his speeches were so compelling and thought provoking even to a young eight year old white girl. I really didn't understand why racism existed. I tried to see what difference it made where people sat, or ate. I couldn't think of a legitimate reason. It was really a confusing time to live. When I asked people would say because they are black that's why? What kind of reasoning is that? Unfortunately, that was a normal answer. If you pushed they would say because they don't have the same brains as white people do and need to be treated differently for their own good. Why, got me in to trouble quite often. But I still had to know and the only one who seemed to have those answers was a man they said should be tarred and feathered, or silenced forever. James Earl Ray did just that. What he never expected, or the others like him, that Martin may not be speaking those words himself but others would and still do. His speech I Have A Dream standing before Lincoln's monument, the man that opened the door for African-Americans to share in our prosperity and whose life was also ended because he saw a future for equality will never be words on a paper stuck in a drawer but will be the light of the future ahead.

Another person I thought was important was Eleanor Roosevelt. She was outspoken for a woman in her time about racial issues. She was inspired by her teacher at a private school in England. She was a very independent thinker and that is what encouraged the attraction between her and Franklin. They loved writing and discussing issues of the time. She was the driving force behind his political career even though she was dubbed the reluctant first lady.

It wasn't that she was unhappy being the first lady, she was unhappy with the role previous first ladies had assumed. She was not going to be a silent mouse in the background. She was used to speaking at conventions, holding her own press conferences and being active in society. Why should that change because her husband became President.

Eleanor was a very vital piece in Franklin's attempt to end segregation. The early days of the Civil Right movement were not easy because the south held a firm stronghold on the congress and senate and Franklin really did try to walk a thin line. Eleanor actively campaigned against the New Deal saying it was not treating the African American fairly with distribution of money. She campaigned that all relief be distributed equally regardless of race to all Americans.

She was the first lady to invite over a hundred African Americans to the White House because a famous black singer Marian Anderson could not perform at Washington's Constitution Hall. This decision was made by the Daughters of the Revolution.. I loved how she persistently charged ahead in spite of the opposition. She resigned from the Daughters of the Revolutions in protest and then helped organize another concert on the steps of Lincoln's monument. How could you not love a woman who took challenges head on. That is what I wanted to be like, strong and determined regardless of the obstacles in my path.

After her role as first lady, she was appointed to be the Chairperson to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

There are so many different stories about her being involved with this person or that one, even linking her to a woman named Missy Lehand just made her all the more fascinating to me. Some speculated she was gay, others said she was bi-sexual. The rumors flew like wildfire, she was always linked with someone. Yet, she did not care what people thought. She faced her critics and continued with her mission at hand.

I just couldn't read enough about her, she seemed like everything I wanted to be except the first Lady. I wasn't interested in most of politics only in equality for all. I wanted the world to be more than it was just like Eleanor and Martin did without someone looking to see what your skin color was.

I wish I could tell you what happened to that girl with such high ideals, and expectations of those around her. All I know for sure is my life did not go in the directions I dreamed but my idols of my youth have not lost their glitter and sparkle in my eyes.

I try everyday to live up to those same ideals. I think it so important that we never lose sight of the fact that we are all in this together. It is not your world, my world but our world and we must work together to make it better for all of our children.

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