Since the Obama administration announced earlier this summer that the new redesigned $10 bill will feature a woman, Americans have flooded the campaign with suggestions, including everyone from Helen Keller to Betty White. But according to a recent McClatchy-Marist poll, America's top choice for the $10 bill is Eleanor Roosevelt, the country's longest-serving first lady and dedicated women's rights, human rights, and civil rights activist. If Roosevelt is chosen when the final decision is made later this year, then America can be proud of its new $10 bill, because there are a number of reasons why she totally deserves the honor.
The McClatchy-Marist poll, released on Wednesday, reveals that 29 percent of those asked chose Roosevelt to be their top pick for the new bill, followed by abolitionist Harriet Tubman with 20 percent, and then Native American guide to Lewis and Clark Sacagawea, women's suffrage activist Susan B. Anthony, and legendary pilot Amelia Earhart, who each received 11 percent of the vote.
In June, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that, for the first time in more than a century, a woman will appear on the $10 bill when it is redesigned. The new bill will debut in 2020, timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. But in the meantime, the public is welcome to offer their suggestions for the new bill, with the only criteria being that the woman must reflect American democracy and must no be longer living.
Based on this criteria, Roosevelt is the perfect choice for the $10 bill. Here's why.
She Was So Much More Than A First Lady
Roosevelt essentially redefined the role of a first lady, proving that the wife of a president didn't need to be relegated to domestic duties. She was just as active in politics as her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt gave speeches on human and women's rights, traveled overseas to visit U.S. troops, and wrote her own newspaper column.
She Fought For Women's Rights...
Roosevelt's work in the women's movement made her an early feminist, before the term was even part of the popular vernacular. Of the many women's groups she worked with were the International Congress of Working Women and Women's International League of Peace and Freedom, with whom she worked to raise awareness on poverty and war; the League of Women Voters; the Woman's Trade Union League; and the Women's Division of the New York Democratic Party.
In 1924, the Democratic National Committee asked Roosevelt to chair its platform committee on women's issues, and she agreed. When the committee dismissed her platform based on concerns of women around the country, she fought even harder, urging her husband's administration to hire more women executives. Roosevelt also held press conferences to address these inequalities and urge women to speak up and fight back.
...And Human Rights...
Her political achievements didn't end when her husband died in 1945. After her tenure in the White House, Roosevelt went on to serve as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, eventually becoming the chair of the UN's Human Rights Commission. For the latter role, she helped to write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that has served as the foundation of human rights laws in the international community.
...And Civil Rights, Too
As first lady, Roosevelt witnessed widespread racial inequality around the country, prompting her to invite NAACP Executive Secretary Walter White and the presidents of African-American universities to the White House for an unprecedented meeting to speak on the subject of institutional racism and racial discrimination in general. The meeting attracted the attention of the African-American community, and Roosevelt became an important figure in the civil rights movement during the segregation era. Roosevelt was even more outspoken on the issue than her husband and often acted as a liaison between his administration and the African-American community.
Images: Wikipedia Commons (5)