March 7, 2013
March is Women’s History Month, a time we pay tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to life and the world have proved invaluable to society. American women’s history has been full of pioneers who have made great development in fields like science, politics, sports, literature and the arts. As adventurers, educators, artists, and freedom fighters, women have played an essential role in the shaping of the United States for 400 years. March also marks 100 years since suffragists marched on Washington.
AOL and PBS collaborated recently to present a 3 hour documentary called: “MAKERS: Women Who Make America”, characterizing forceful stories from women of today and tomorrow.
Much of the news media and political pundits lately have been focusing on former Secretary of State Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, asking will she run for the office of president in 2016. In the 2008 presidential nomination race she won more primaries and delegates than any other female candidate in American history, but narrowly lost to then Illinois Senator Barack Obama.
A female president is not a new inspiration or novel idea. Shirley Chisholm became the first black congresswoman and for seven terms represented New York State in the House. She ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 1972, and Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman vice-presidential candidate on a national party ticket.
It’s not uncommon for the press to focus on Mrs. Clinton because of her history and record of public service. Although no woman has been elected to the nation’s highest office, she was at one time the nation’s first lady. But I wonder if it is possible to consider our present first lady, Michelle Obama for the office? Although their childhood was very different, their qualifying credentials are incredibly similar. Let’s compare.
Mrs. Clinton was born in Chicago, Illinois on October 26, 1947 to Dorothy Rodham and the late Hugh Rodham. She attended local public schools before graduating from Wellesley College and Yale Law School, where she met Bill Clinton. In 1974, Secretary Clinton moved to Arkansas, a year later then married Bill Clinton and became a successful attorney while also raising their daughter, Chelsea. She was an assistant professor at the University Of Arkansas School Of Law.
During her 12 years as First Lady of the State of Arkansas, she was Chairwoman of the Arkansas Education Standards Committee, co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, and served on the boards of the Arkansas Children's Hospital, and the Children's Defense Fund.
In 1992, Governor Clinton was elected President of the United States, and as First Lady, Hillary Clinton became an advocate of health care reform and worked on many issues relating to children and families. In 2000, Hillary Clinton made history as the first lady elected to the United States Senate, and the first woman elected statewide in New York. In 2006, Senator Clinton won reelection to the Senate, and in 2007 she began her historic campaign for President. In 2008, she campaigned for the election of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and in November, she was nominated by President-elect Obama to be Secretary of State.
Michelle Obama was born on January 17, 1964 in Chicago, Illinois. But before she was a mother, or a wife, lawyer or public servant, she was Fraser and Marian Robinson's daughter.
A product of Chicago public schools, Mrs. Obama studied sociology and African-American studies at Princeton University. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1988, she joined the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin, where she later met the man who would become the love of her life.
After a few years, Mrs. Obama decided her true calling was working with people to serve their communities and their neighbors. She served as assistant commissioner of planning and development in Chicago's City Hall before becoming the founding executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that prepares youth for public service.
In 1996, Mrs. Obama joined the University of Chicago with a vision of bringing campus and community together. As Associate Dean of Student Services, she developed the university's first community service program, and under her leadership as Vice President of Community and External Affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center, volunteerism skyrocketed.
Promoting Service and working with young people has remained a staple of her career and her interest. Continuing this effort now as First Lady, Mrs. Obama in 2010 launched ‘Let’s Move’ a campaign to bring together community leaders, teachers, doctors, nurses, moms and dads in a nationwide effort to tackle the challenge of childhood obesity. ‘Let’s Move’ has an ambitious but important goal: to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation.
First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama have two daughters: Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11. Like their mother, the girls were born on the South Side of Chicago.
Many women have resumed or carried on their husband’s career. Mae Ella Nolan was the first woman elected to her husband's seat in Congress, and with the evolving role of women in politics, a number of women who first took office under widow's succession went on to build long and distinguished careers in their own right.
We must remember Jean Carnahan served in the United States Senate from 2001 to 2002 after she was appointed to fill the seat of her husband, Mel Carnahan who was posthumously elected to the seat in 2000. She became the first woman to represent Missouri in the Senate. Actually there is a long list of women who carried on their husbands or family member’s career. It’s not as unusual as some might assume.
So when you hear someone mentioning Hillary for president in 2016, perhaps you might mention Michelle as well. Why not Michelle? Who knows? Stranger things have happened.
Please watch the Bernie Hayes TV program Saturday Night at 10pm and Friday Morning at 9 am and Sunday Evenings at 5:30 pm on KNLC-TV Ch. 24.
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Be Ever Wonderful!