Eleanor Roosevelt’s American Dream
What was the American dream for Eleanor Roosevelt? On the 75th anniversary of the founding of Roosevelt University—and the centennial of the 19th amendment—this is an opportune moment for us to consider this question at the 2020 American Dream Reconsidered Conference. Rather than focus on individual economic opportunity, the American dream as embodied in the life and ideals of our namesake Eleanor Roosevelt emphasized an individual’s right to participate fully in civic life. The conference will offer a number of events that explore the history, purpose, and practices associated with a vibrant civic life as a core aspect of the American dream. These conversations can inspire a new generation of civic leaders to carry the torch for a revitalized American democracy.
Panels will be organized around a number of different themes. These include the emergence of a new generation of local leaders working to expand on the legacy of the New Deal in the 21st century; the history of women’s suffrage, including the role that women of color played in that movement; the history of Roosevelt University’s 75 years of inclusion; and the LBGTQ+ movement’s efforts to build support for its community and to broaden our understanding of the rights that need to be protected in our democracy. Additionally, the conference will host the Mansfield Institute’s One Book, One University lecture by acclaimed author Luis Alberto Urrea, as well as holding several receptions to allow participants to continue these vital conversation outside the confines of the lecture hall. Finally, the conference concludes on Thursday, September 17, with a keynote address by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
This conference is free and open to the public.
Monday, September 14
THE FRANKLIN & ELEANOR ROOSEVELT DISTINGUISHED LECTURE: 21ST CENTURY NEW DEAL POLITICAL LEADERSHIP
Sponsored by the Center for New Deal Studies
As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, the lives and leadership of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt remain more relevant than ever. Americans are reconnecting with the ideals and legacy that drove Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s. Most notably, today’s New Deal leaders embrace the notion that government and an enlarged public sector can promote liberty and justice for all. Even in the South, a region perceived to be hostile to progressive politics, candidates have taken office under the banner of expanding the role of local government in creating a vibrant civic life. Mayor Chokwe Lumumba of Jackson, Mississippi, along with one other progressive mayor will discuss the role that grass-roots mobilization and a progressive vision can have in fortifying democracy and building a more equitable and just world in their respective cities.
Reception: The Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Distinguished Lecture, Sponsored by the Center for New Deal Studies
David Faris, Associate Professor of Political Science, Roosevelt University
Chokwe Lumumba, Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi
Tuesday, September 15
WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE: PAST AND PRESENT
In celebration of the centennial of the 19th amendment, which guaranteed the right of women to vote, we will reflect on the struggles of Black women to fight for the right to cast a ballot. Black women were avid supporters and participants in the movement to obtain the vote for women at the state and federal level, yet even as they struggled to win the right to vote for their sex, they faced exclusion from the ballot box because of the color of their skin. Audra Wilson, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters in Illinois, Lisa Materson, author of For the Freedom of Her Race: Black Women and Electoral Politics in Illinois, 1877-1932, and a grass-roots voting rights activist will explore the past and present of our most precious democratic right: the right to vote.
Reception: High Tea in Honor of Eleanor Roosevelt
Book sale and signing with Lisa Materson, author of For the Freedom of Her Race
Sandra Frink, Associate Professor of History, Roosevelt University
Audra Wilson, Executive Director, League of Women Voters
Lisa Materson, Associate Professor of History, University of California, Davis
HISTORY OF ROOSEVELT UNIVERSITY/GAGE GALLERY OPENING OF EXHIBIT ON HISTORY OF ROOSEVELT UNIVERSITY
TBD | Gage Gallery
Wednesday, September 16
MANSFIELD INSTITUTE LECTURE AND ONE BOOK/ONE UNIVERSITY DISCUSSION:
LUIS ALBERTO URREA, AUTHOR, INTO THE BEAUTIFUL NORTH: A NOVEL
12:30 p.m. | TBD
Sponsored by the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation
THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES: THE FIGHT FOR LGBTQ+ RIGHTS
Reception & LGBTQ Activism Award: 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Panel: 7:00 p.m.
Even as great strides have been made, there are still many challenges facing the LBGTQ+ movement. This panel will explore how LBGTQ+ individuals struggle to find their place not only within a predominantly heterosexual world but also within the LBGTQ+ community itself. Additionally, it will ask how the history of rights and freedom movements might inform the next chapter of LBGTQ+ rights activism on the local and national levels. The panel will include Camilla Taylor of Lambda Legal, LaSaia Wade of Brave Space Alliance, and Modesto Tico Valle of Center on Halsted and will be moderated by Professor C. Riley Norton of the University of Chicago, whose scholarship has focused on LGBTQ+ issues. His book, Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity (2017) won the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Nonfiction.
Book Signing: C. Riley Norton
Organizational Tables: Lambda Legal, Brave Space Alliance, Center on Halsted
C. Riley Norton, Professor of English Language and Literature, University of Chicago
LaSaia Wade, Founder & Executive Director, Brave Space Alliance
Camilla Taylor, Esq., Director of Constitutional Litigation, Lambda Legal
Modesto Tico Valle, Chief Executive Officer, Center on Halsted
Thursday, September 17
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: SUPREME COURT JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR
7:00 p.m. | Auditorium Theater
Program is subject to change