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Looking to women for July 4 ‘growing up’ guidance

As we approach the 4th of July, the birthday of the United States, I think of birthday parties, especially kids’ birthday parties. At these events, proud relatives gather to bestow gifts on the child. We have satisfaction in seeing the child we have mentored and encouraged as she grows up to be strong, independent and smart.

How do we help our country grow up to be something we are proud of, to be strong, independent and smart?

The following quotes are from women who have mentored and encouraged our country along the way; women who have laid the groundwork for us.

“If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”  —  Abigail Adams, U.S. first lady

“If women could go into your Congress, I think justice would soon be done to the Indians.” — Sara Winnemucca, Piute tribe activist, 1883

“Women more than men can strip war of its glamour and its out-of-date heroisms and patriotisms, and see it as a demon of destruction and hideous wrong.” — Lillian Wald, reformer and peace activist, 1914

“Maybe we weren’t at the Last Supper, but we’re certainly going to be at the next one.” — Rep. Bella Abzug, former congresswoman

“There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers.” — Susan B. Anthony, speaker, organizer and writer for women’s rights

[at Wellesley College Commencement] “Somewhere out in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps, and preside over the White House as the president’s spouse. I wish him well!” — Barbara Bush, first lady

“Something which we think is impossible now is not impossible in another decade.” — Constance Baker Motley (First black woman in the U.S. to become a federal judge)

“I was the first American citizen to be elected to Congress in spite of the double drawbacks of being female and having skin darkened by melanin. When you put it that way, it sounds like a foolish reason for fame. In a just and free society it would be foolish. That I am a national figure because I was the first person in 192 years to be at once a congressman, black and a woman proves, I think, that our society is not yet either just or free.” — Shirley Chisholm, first black congresswoman

“I knew someone had to take the first step and I made up my mind not to move.” — Rosa Parks, credited with triggering the Civil Rights movement

“They blame the low-income women for ruining the country because they are staying home with their children and not going out to work. They blame the middle-income women for ruining the country because they go out to work and do not stay home to take care of their children.” — Ann Richards, former Texas governor

“When people ask me why I am running as a woman, I always answer, “What choice do I have?”

“Nobody ever says to men, how can you be a congressman and a father. 

“The Pledge of Allegiance says “… with liberty and justice for all.” What part of “all” don’t you understand?

“Many women have more power than they recognize, and they’re very hesitant to use it, for they fear they won’t be loved.

“When men talk about defense, they always claim to be protecting women and children, but they never ask the women and children what they think.”  — Patricia Schroeder, former congresswoman


Holding hope for a country we can all mentor, encourage and be proud of.

Kathy Magnuson is co-publisher of Minnesota Women’s Press, where this article originally appeared.


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