Photos Of A Young Hillary Clinton Remind Us She's Opening Doors For Others
Hillary Clinton is making history on Thursday night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
She will become the first woman ever to accept a presidential nomination from a major party. Ever!
Clinton was officially nominated on Tuesday night. She said in a video call to the conference,
If there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say: I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next.
It would be a very special thing for little girls to grow up and see a woman in charge of the country. As 8-year-old Victoria told me in February,
It means that a lady could do anything that a man can do, too. So she can become president just like men can.
Jennifer Palmieri, the Clinton campaign's director of communications, said during a media briefing on Tuesday morning,
Little kids have these placemats and it has all the [presidents]. They bring it up to Hillary all the time. 'What about the placemat? There's no girl on the placemat.' ... Whereas I think younger women have grown just to expect it will eventually happen, the little girls are mad it hasn't happened yet.
Clinton herself was, obviously, once a little girl. Unlike, potentially, today's generation of girls, she did not have someone to look to as an example of the possibilities for women.
When the space program was booming in the early 1960s and Clinton was in her early teens, she wanted to become an astronaut. She said in 1992,
I wrote a letter to NASA and asked them what you would do to be an astronaut. … and they wrote back and said, 'We are not accepting girls as astronauts,' which was very infuriating.
Clinton went on to women's college Wellesley in Massachusetts, where she graduated in 1969. At that time, most colleges were not co-ed, so women's colleges were the best option for many women seeking higher education.
My mother went to Barnard College and graduated a year before Columbia University, literally across the street from Barnard, went co-ed. On the night Clinton won the New York primary, my mother texted me,
Can you imagine? I couldn't even apply to Columbia because I was a woman in 1976!
When Clinton graduated from Wellesley, she was chosen by her classmates to speak at the ceremony. She started her speech by going off script to criticize the politician who had spoken before her.
He suggested the graduates not protest for causes. She calmly rejected that proposal, saying,
We're not in the positions yet of leadership and power, but we do have that indispensable task of criticizing and constructive protest.
Clinton went on to say in her prepared graduation remarks,
One of the most tragic things that happened yesterday, a beautiful day, was that I was talking to a woman who said that she wouldn't want to be me for anything in the world. She wouldn't want to live today and look ahead to what it is she sees because she's afraid. Fear is always with us, but we just don't have time for it. Not now.
Clinton's graduation speech -- and her rejection of the senator's call to stop protesting -- landed her a spot in a LIFE magazine profile of the class of 1969.
I go over and I said, 'If you're going to keep looking at me, and I'm going to keep looking back, we at least ought to know each other.' You know I thought that was the proper thing to do, right?
They married in 1975.
Clinton went on to follow her own path, occupying spaces women had not previously occupied. She became the first woman to make full partner at the law firm she worked at and revolutionized the role of First Lady.
She took many steps in her professional life without a female role model to look up to. While Clinton had examples of women who ran for president before, including Margaret Chase Smith and Shirley Chisholm, no one got as far as she now has.
In 2013, she said,
Let me say this, hypothetically speaking, I really do hope that we have a woman president in my lifetime.
Now, Clinton is on that path. While she didn't have a female presidential nominee to look up to herself, she serves as an icon for little girls around the country.
She's showing a full generation of women that they can do it, too. That's powerful stuff.