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Anna Eleanor Roosevelt and Her Legacy

The First Lady of The World and her remarkable impact on society

By Sara N. Stiles

I’ve admired Anna Eleanor Roosevelt ever since I was a little girl. The sheer strength and vulnerability she exhibited is exemplified in one of her most famous quotes.The idea, which my mother still repeats to me time and time again, both shocks and soothes me with the stark truth it reveals.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

A lot of personal responsibility lies between the lines of these words, a quality I continuously find myself working on. For me and many others, this quote is just the first of many instances that Madam Roosevelt displayed her expertise in the field of rhetoric. Her role as a feminist leader in America helped pave the way for women like me who hope to change the world, especially through our words.

Groundbreaking Feminist leadership

Madam Roosevelt writes one of her many articles in the White House

In 1984, New York Times writer, Judy Klemesrud, explored Madam Roosevelt’s legacy and role as a feminist, though the First Lady was never a huge fan of the term “feminist” itself and did not endorse the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923. She believed the ERA was impractical and “ignored political and social realities of sexism and, particularly, the everyday experience of working women,” according to the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project. Despite this opposition, feminists held no grudge toward Roosevelt nor her disdain toward the term. Instead, they focused on recognizing her profound work for women’s equality and rights and praised the headway she made for young women across the country to thrive in unconventional environments. For example, Roosevelt served on the boards for several women’s organizations, worked to improve access for women to New Deal legislation and even held press conferences for only female journalists to encourage and promote women in prominent careers.

Unconditional grace despite a childhood of grief

Many today know Eleanor Roosevelt as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s wife, America’s longest-serving first lady, Theodore Roosevelt’s niece and a true national icon. However, not many are aware of the unfortunate circumstances that helped shape the First Lady into the benevolent and earnest humanitarian her legacy reflects. According to The White House First Families biographies, Roosevelt grew up a “shy, awkward child, starved for recognition and love” after losing both of her parents before the age of 10. It’s widely known that she and FDR bore many children, but often forgotten that one son died during infancy. However, despite tragedy’s persistent knocking at her door, Madam Roosevelt consistently displayed grace and sensitivity toward others throughout whole life. Instead of succumbing to her circumstances and allowing them to define her, she used her experiences and lessons as a young girl to help pave the way for young women after her everywhere.

Words with the weight of the world

Eleanor Roosevelt is a household name across the globe because of the significance, eloquence and power captured in each message she delivered. Over the course of her life, Roosevelt wrote 27 books and more than 8,000 columns to share her knowledge and experiences. Her words have left a remarkable impact on society, as she is one of the most widely quoted and admirable women in history.

I have always admired the life and legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt, but the qualities she held despite the challenges she faced make her even more impressive. Just one quote of hers has significantly changed how I’ve viewed everyday challenges and managed relationships since my youth, and her legacy revolutionized how women operate in society today. For that, I will always cherish Anna Eleanor Roosevelt and forever thank her for inspiring me to do and be better.


Meet the Author: Sara Stiles is senior at The University of North Texas and will graduate in May 2021 with a BA in Journalism, a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Political Science. She is passionate about efficient and effective communication, and hopes to pursue a career in brand communications, partnership or development after graduation. With an aptitude for generosity and a commitment to growth, Sara can thrive in any work environment and is excited by the challenges that come with new projects and teams. To learn more about Sara or to get in touch, visit