Sunday, March 27, 2011

Geraldine Ferraro: In Memoriam

She was smart, she was funny, she was accomplished. And she made a difference. Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to be named to a national presidential ticket, was a trail blazeer for many aspiring female politicians.

For me, it was the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco which nominated her that became the starting point for my involvement in electoral politics (beyond voting and working on campaigns). I still have a red, white and blue "Ferraro" poster hanging in my house.

I had taken my first step toward a more active political life by entering law school the year before the convention. I was then 44; Geraldine -- only 4 years older than I -- had done that decades before. She had served as an outstanding prosecutor in New York, and was elected Congresswoman from Queens, serving with some of the greats -- Bella Abzug, Shirley Chisholm and Pat Schroeder -- in the House of Representatives during the same period.

All these women were stars at the Women's Caucus at the Democratic Convention in
1984. They -- along with feminist icon Gloria Steinem -- organized a women's caucus during the 1984 convention, and delegates like me attended daily to hear what was going on behind the scenes, to discuss issues and to network about our home communities during a most informative sharing session.

That's when I heard from the women from all parts of the nation who were holding office at the local or state level or who were running for office. That's when I got inspired to run for office.

Back to Geraldine Ferraro: She was our star during those sessions, and her words to us were always common sense and down to earth. Gerry -- as she was know -- was accessible, smart about issues and pragmatic about politics.

I saw her again in person some 30 years later when she spoke at the Center for Politics at University of Virginia. Then, she was working on the White House Project, a bi-partisan group dedicated to getting a woman in the White House. She inspired me that time to investigate and then write a series of essays about the dismal numbers of women in state legislatures and Congress.

Of course a few years later, Hillary Clinton ran for the Democratic presidential nomination with Gerry Ferraro's hearty endorsement. I also worked for Hillary. Although she lost to a formidable and worthy opponent, our current President, Hillary currently serves superbly as Secretary of State, a critical part of the presidential team during this time of unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.

Geraldine Ferraro should never be forgotten for what she contributed to women becoming players in the politics of America. She is the successor to the suffragists who marched in the early part of the 20th century before women got the vote. She was a pioneer for all the women who have come after her. May she rest in peace, and may we remember and celebrate her always. Sphere: Related Content

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