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First ladies and civil rights have a mixed history. As the White House Historical Association project "Slavery in the President's Neighborhood" made us aware, starting with the Washingtons, slaveholding presidents brought enslaved servants to the president's house to work. Other 19th century first ladies had abolitionist roots and supported former enslaved workers or their family members in a variety of ways. In the 20th century, Eleanor Roosevelt took an active role in promoting civil rights on many levels and later first ladies followed her lead. This program looks at these first ladies to show the trajectory from slaveholding presidential couples to the first African American first lady.

History Happy Hour is a biweekly virtual program hosted by the White House Historical Association. Join us as experts weigh in on a variety of historical topics, share their insights, answer audience questions, and enjoy presidential-inspired libations.

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