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Eleanor Roosevelt: Show the World What Democracy Means       


Historical Context/ Citation

Eleanor Roosevelt delivers a fiery address at the 1956 Democratic National Convention on the responsibilities of young members of the Democratic Party, the meaning of democracy, great leaders, and what solutions to world problems will require. Film ID 63-8:3. Copyrighted by CBS.

For a DVD copy of this film, please contact Education Specialist Jeffrey Urbin at jeffrey.urbin@nara.gov.

Central Issue

In the post war period, Mrs. Roosevelt, both as FDR’s widow, and based upon her own distinguished accomplishments, was the undisputed matriarch of the Democratic Party. Eleanor Roosevelt was a formidable figure in the Party and used her position to influence other members to support the candidates, policies and ideals of the Democratic Party. 

Social Studies Themes Addressed in this Clip

  1. Individual Development and Cultural Identity
  2. Time, Continuity, and Change
  3. Developmental and Transformation of Social Structures
  4. Power, Authority, and Governance
  5. Civic Ideals and Practices

Enduring Understandings

  1. Leadership can be “active” - being in a position to personally effect change, or leadership can be “passive” – having the ability to inspire and influence others to lead and effect change.
  2. America has developed into a two party political system: Democrats and Republicans who vie for support and power to create state, local and national policies.
  3. The traditional beliefs and values of political parties shape their approach to policies and determine who they select to lead the party and who they support for state, local and national office.
  4. Political parties are an effective avenue for citizens to participate in the government.
  5. Political parties depend on their members for ideas, financial and organizational support, mobilization of voters, and distribution of information.

Essential Questions

  1. What values, ideals, beliefs and costumes do the political parties stand for?
  2. What is the role of the political party in policy formation?
  3. What is the role of the political party in preparing candidates and voters for elections?
  4. How have political parties changed over time?
  5. How do political parties select and prepare members for leadership roles?
  6. How have leaders in the past shaped the parties over time?  
  7. What is the future of political parties?

Activities for Analyzing and Understanding the Speech

Share with your students the footage of Eleanor Roosevelt's Address to the 1956 Democratic National Convention and then ask them to complete these activities.