Wisdom for the Ages

by April Greene, Photo Courtesy of SLC Archives

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt visited the Sarah Lawrence campus several times in the 1940s and ’50s, typically addressing issues of human rights, democracy, and personal responsibility.

In a March 1951 meeting, she warned against complacency, reminding students and faculty, “Everyone has got to be in this struggle.” She also counseled students to retain open minds: “Always feel that you can take a new thought and examine it—never be afraid of it.”

In her 1957 commencement address, she already recognized that new channels of communication also bring new responsibilities, telling graduates, “To feel and understand people is one of the great obligations that has come to us.” Roosevelt’s pointed insights and calls to action now seem by turns timeless, timely, and prescient— illustrating that we’ve been closely connected with our international neighbors far longer than globalization has been a buzzword.

"It is almost impossible today to look at the developments before us and think that we might live selfishly, unto ourselves alone. There was a time when we in this great country felt that it was quite possible to live within the limits of our own country. That time is past." - Eleanor Roosevelt, June 7, 1957