Faculty note: Kaye, Martha Stewart are allies on FDR

Prof. Harvey Kaye of Social Change and Development contributed a recent column, with the attention-getting headline “Listen up President Obama — Martha Stewart has some good advice for you!” to newdeal 2.0, the online publication of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.

The story behind the column originates with Kaye’s ongoing work as a “Braintruster” for the publication, and his role as a historical adviser to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park Project in New York City. Kaye has focused his recent scholarship on FDR and his famous “Four Freedoms” speech to America in 1941. In it, the President pledged commitment “to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms” and outlined those principles as freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

The idea of a national memorial in New York City dedicated to Roosevelt, a New York native, has percolated for at least four decades. In 1973, then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and Mayor John Lindsay presided over the dedication of Roosevelt Island in the center of the East River, with four acres set aside as the future site of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park to be designed by the renowned architect Louis I. Kahn. The city’s financial crisis of the late 1970s stalled the project.

Plans for the park have regained momentum and funding in recent years. Kaye, whose book in progress has the working title “The Four Freedoms and the Promise of America,” submitted a column to newdeal 2.0, he writes, after watching an episode of Martha Stewart’s Hallmark Channel TV show. A colleague tipped him that Stewart was going to feature the park project on her next episode.

“Stewart,” Kay wrote, “spoke more progressively on the Hallmark Channel than anyone in the Obama Administration has for some time in any venue…” She broadcast a 10-minute film on the making of the FDR Four Freedoms Park, included a slide show and audio of FDR’s original speech, and shared news that the $50 million project is only a few million shy of its fundraising goal.

Concluding his online column, Kaye writes:

Stewart did a splendid job of it. But what really thrilled me was what she told her viewers afterward. Closing the segment, she looked out at her studio and television audience and said: “I wish somebody would give that speech right today. We need to hear it again.”

Listen up President Obama — Martha Stewart has some good advice for you!

To read the column by Prof. Harvey Kaye in its entirety, click


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