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A Majority of Minorities: ER Supports John F. Kennedy in the 1960 Presidential Election  

Historical Context/ Citation

Eleanor Roosevelt's television spots in support of John F. Kennedy for president.  Mrs. Roosevelt speaks of immigration as a source of national strength.  This film also includes a brief clip of JFK conducting research in the Roosevelt Library.  Film ID 61-7.

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 who shrewdly used her position to influence candidates and policies inside the Democratic Party.  Powerful democrats such as Harry Truman, Adlai Stevenson and John F. Kennedy courted her support and endorsement.

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 was founded on the idea that our nation becomes stronger and replenished by welcoming the skills, talents and desire for liberty of others from across the world.
  3. Emma Lazarus’ poem, The New Colossus, inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, has been seen as a pledge to what America stands for to the rest of the world.
  4. Moral courage” and having a “sense of history” have long been thought to be important qualities in a good leader.
  5. Since our conception and especially since the end of World War II the United States has been the leader of the Free World.

Essential Questions

  1. How valid is the pledge inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty in 1883 to today’s world?
  2. How should consideration of the Bill of Rights influence voters?
  3. What beliefs, ideas, actions, forces and influences make democracy stronger?
  4. To what extent has our acceptance of others made America a better or stronger nation?
  5. What does it mean to be the “Leader of the Free World?”
  6. In what ways can we support and strengthen democracy at home and around the world?
  7. What are the greatest challenges democracy faces today?

Activities for Analyzing and Understanding the Speech

Share with your students the footage of A Majority of Minorities and then ask them to complete these activities.