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 virtual 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 virtual 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.

Virtual panels will 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 Black women and women’s suffrage
– The history of Roosevelt University’s 75 years of inclusion
– The LGBTQ+ 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
– The Mansfield Institute’s One Book, One University lecture by acclaimed author Luis Alberto Urrea

Conference co-chairs:
Margaret Rung, Professor of History & Director, Center for New Deal Studies
Andy Trees, Visiting Professor of Political Science


The American Dream Reconsidered Conference is a free conference that invites scholars, activists and leaders to explore the modern American dream. Sessions delve into immigration, health care, politics and more in America today. With optimism and hope, our panelists share visions for the future of our democracy.

Roosevelt University president Ali Malekzadeh founded the annual conference in 2016.
Past speakers include:

  • U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Musician, actor and activist Common
  • Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.
  • Political analyst David Axelrod
  • Best-selling author Imbolo Mbue

Learn more about Roosevelt University at roosevelt.edu.

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