Eleanor Roosevelt Resigns from the DAR

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is a non-profit organization known for its lineage-based membership. Members of the DAR must be able to trace their genealogy back to an individual connected to American Independence. In this letter, Eleanor Roosevelt responds to the DAR’s refusal in February 1939 to allow the black performer Marian Anderson to sing at their auditorium, Constitution Hall.
Eleanor Roosevelt
Grade Level

February 26, 1939

My dear Mrs. Henry M. Robert:

I am afraid that I have never been a very useful member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, so I know it will make very little difference to you whether I resign, or whether I continue to be a member of your organization.

However, I am in complete disagreement with the attitude taken in refusing Constitution Hall to a great artist. You have set an example which seems to me unfortunate, and I feel obliged to send in to you my resignation . You had an opportunity to lead in an enlightened way and it seems to me that your organization has failed.

I realize that many people will not agree with me, but feeling as I do this seems to me the only proper procedure to follow.

Very sincerely yours,

This text is in the public domain.
Text Dependent Questions
  1. Question
    What was the name of the African-American performer the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)
    refused to allow to sing in their auditorium?
    Marian Anderson
  2. Question
    Why did Eleanor Roosevelt resign from the DAR?
    She resigned in protest and disagreement with the DAR’s decision not to allow African- American singer Marian Anderson to perform at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
  3. Question
    What reasons does Mrs. Roosevelt give to explain her decision?
    She lists a few and students should touch on more than one. First, she says she’s not been a very good member to begin with, so they won’t be missing her contribution. Second, she is in total disagreement with their treatment of Marian Anderson. Third, she thinks they’re setting a terrible example when they could’ve been leaders instead. And last, because she believes that so many people will disagree with her on the issue, she might as well step down.
  4. Question
    How would you describe the overall tone of the letter? In particular, what is Mrs. Roosevelt’s opinion of the DAR
    as an organization?
    The letter is polite but direct. Mrs. Roosevelt expresses her disappointment in the organization and an inability to remain involved because of ethical concerns.
Reveal Answers
Abolitionists William Still, Sojourner Truth, William Loyd Garrison, unidentified male and female slaves, and Black Union soldiers in front of American flag

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