James Roosevelt Speaks in Greenbelt
As part of Greenbelt’s 75th anniversary celebration, James Roosevelt, grandson of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, visited the city and spoke to a large crowd in the Greenbelt Community Center. The Greenbelt Combined Choir performed before the speech, and a birthday cake and refreshments were served afterward.
Greenbelt’s 75th birthday cake
Chef Lou stands behind his cake.
Greenbelt Museum curator Megan Searing Young stands behind the museum’s table.
75th Anniversary Committee member Lois Rosado opens this afternoon’s program. She tells about other 75th anniversary events that are coming up including a gala dinner dance on October 13 and Utopia Film Festival also in October.
Jean Cook leads the Greenbelt Combined Choir. She tells that the choir has been practicing since June and the first piece is called “Get Happy,” a medley of show tunes from the 1930s.
A large crowd is in attendance.
The accompanist is Susan Breon.
The second piece is called “Give Us Hope” by Jim Papoulis.
Jean Cook has been the director of the Greenbelt Combined Choir since 1974. Here she describes the third piece “Coffee In a Cardboard Cup.”
Sign language interpreter
Jim and Bernie Giese
Lee and Bonnie Shields
Mary Lou Williamson and Sylvia and Robert Lewis
The fourth and final piece that the choir performs is titled “America: The Spirit Lives On!”
Murray and Carol Malveaux (75th Anniversary Committee co-chair) and John Henry Jones
75th Anniversary Committee co-chair Dave Mills introduces Mayor Pro Tem Emmett Jordan.
Mayor Pro Tem Emmett Jordan first acknowledges the 75th Anniversary Committee members who worked to put on this event.
Konrad Herling is one of the City Council members in attendance.
Emmett Jordan talks about the history of Greenbelt as a designed community: “When budget concerns threatened Greenbelt’s completion, Mrs. Roosevelt stepped in to see that the project was completed.” He then introduces today’s speaker James Roosevelt. “Mr. Roosevelt is president and chief executive officer of Tufts Health Plan which is headquartered in Watertown, Massachusetts and includes a network of 91 hospitals and more than 35,000 healthcare providers. Before joining Tufts, he served as the associate commissioner for retirement policy for the Social Security Administration in Washington, D.C. and was appointed to President Barack Obama’s transition team and co-chaired a review of the Social Security Administration.” He also tells that Roosevelt participated in Greenbelt’s Labor Day Parade six years ago.
Emmett Jordan shakes the hand of James Roosevelt.
James Roosevelt says that he is overwhelmed by the turnout: “Why aren’t you outside? It is so beautiful.” He says that he will focus on his grandmother today: “She lived until I was a senior in high school.” He talks about Greenbelt as one of Eleanor Roosevelt’s favorite places, “a place of which she was most proud.”
He talks about his grandmother’s 7-days-a-week column titled “My Day” and her book titled “You Learn by Living.” He lists the chapter titles in her book: “Learning to Learn; Fear—the Great Enemy; The Uses of Time; The Difficult Art of Maturity; Readjustment Is Endless; Learning to Be Useful; The Right to Be and Individual; How to Get the Best Out of People; Facing Responsibility; How Everyone Can Take Part in Politics; Learning to Be a Public Servant.”
Dave Mills, Emmett Jordan, and Mayor Judith Davis sit on stage.
James Roosevelt talks about what her grandmother believed to be her greatest accomplishments—The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He talks about other new towns which were later renamed after his grandmother such as Eleanor, West Virginia and Norvelt, Pennsylvania. He concludes: “I am very happy to be here today, representing her to you, speaking for her legacy and speaking out of my personal admiration for what she did, but for this legacy she’s left and you are all part of.”
Mayor Davis asks for questions from the audience.
Sylvia Lewis asks the first question.
City Councilmember Leta Mach (second from right)
Sandy Lange, Barbara Havekost, and Barbara Young. Havekost and Young are members of the 75th Anniversary Committee. Lange chaired Greenbelt’s 50th Anniversary Committee in 1987.
James Roosevelt tells about the Democratic Convention in 1960 when Eleanor Roosevelt spoke for Adlai Stevenson; she and John Kennedy (who was eventually nominated) reconciled later.
“What was Eleanor Roosevelt’s attitude towards Wall Street?”
Brenda Cooley is a member of the 75th Anniversary Committee.
Roosevelt says that when FDR was first elected there was no safety net. He thinks that Eleanor Roosevelt’s experience as a volunteer social worker influenced her thinking: “Capitalism only works when it is properly regulated. I think that was her attitude toward Wall Street.”
Edith Beauchamp says that when she was 19 she worked with Olya Margolin of the National Council of Jewish Women. Margolin was mentored by Eleanor Roosevelt and worked with Dorothy Height of the National Council of Negro Women and Esther Peterson on the Equal Pay Act of 1963. She thinks that Eleanor Roosevelt was the inspiration for many women leaders.
Roosevelt said that he did not know Margolin personally but spoke at Height’s memorial service and met Esther Peterson. He thinks that as a first lady, his grandmother “moved from the almost Dolly Madison era into a modern era.”
Mayor Davis asks: “What is your most favorite memory of your grandmother?” James Roosevelt says that the memories of him as a young boy going to Hyde Park, New York in the summer to visit his grandmother (she had a swimming pool) are the most vivid and treasured.
James Roosevelt receives a standing ovation.
Barbara Young, a 75th Anniversary Committee member who worked with James Roosevelt’s office to set up this visit, is acknowledged. Young is also a Greenbelt pioneer.
Mayor Davis tells that Greenbelt’s high school was to be named after FDR but people successfully petitioned to name it after Eleanor Roosevelt. She also says that in the City Council chamber, two portraits of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt still watch over every meeting. She then presents James Roosevelt with a bag of Greenbelt 75th anniversary memorabilia, as 75th Anniversary Committee chair Dave Mills looks on.
In the back of the room, Chef Lou is ready to cut the birthday cake.
Refreshments are provided by the Greenbelt Co-op.
Iced tea and lemonade
“Dear Mrs. Roosevelt: Letters to Eleanor Roosevelt Through Depression and War” edited by Cathy Knepper sells for $10. Historian Cathy Knepper also wrote a book on Greenbelt: “Greenbelt, Maryland: A Living Legacy of the New Deal.”
Janet Parker and her daughter Sharon O’Keefe. O’Keefe is visiting her mother from the West Coast. Her father is Izzy Parker who was Greenbelt News Review’s cartoonist.
Martha (Tompkins) Folk who lives in Lanham and Alice (Tompkins) McGregor who visits from Seattle sang earlier today with the Greenbelt Combined Choir. Here they, who are twins, recognize Janet Parker, their Brownie leader.
Martha Folk (left) and Alice McGregor (right) pose with Janet Parker. They tell me that their Brownie troop used to meet at Parker’s home at 45J Ridge Road.
City Manager Michael McLaughlin and Greenbelt’s 2012 Outstanding Citizen John Henry Jones
Lee and Bonnie Shields. Lee Shields is a Greenbelt (defense house) pioneer.
John Henry Jones shows a family album to Jim and Bernie Giese.
Outside, the Greenbelt 75th Birthday float which has been placed in front of the Community Center is being pulled away.