2020 has bought a lot of movements of change and a lot of opportunities to use your voice. I want to point out the women who have taken charge and stepped up in a time of need.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the U.S. Representative of New York’s 14th Congressional District. Taking office at age 29, Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever to serve in the United States Congress. She advocates a progressive platform that includes Medicare for all, a federal jobs guarantee, the Green New Deal and abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Ocasio-Cortez was born in 1989 into a working-class family in the Parkchester section of the Bronx. Her dad owned a small architecture company, and her Puerto Rico-born mother cleaned houses. They were deeply rooted in the neighborhood but also wary of its limitations. Ocasio-Cortez has told friends she learned early on that wearing hoop earrings and nameplate necklaces was fine in the Bronx, but she wouldn’t be taken seriously if she wore them to a job interview. For most of her 20s, she lived paycheck to paycheck. She paid $200 a month for an Affordable Care Act health insurance plan with a huge deductible. Like 44 million other Americans, she had student-loan debt: about $25,000 worth, which meant $300 a month in payments. She soon got hooked into politics during the Obama election, with her strong involvement in promoting the campaign, and was pushed to run for congress. It wasn’t easy; being the youngest woman to run for congress, Cortez received a lot of criticism, but she proved herself diligently.
The politics of our moment are dominated by a bully of miserable character, a president who has failed to contain a pandemic through sheer indifference, who has fabricated a campaign based on bigotry and the deliberate inflammation of division. His language is abusive, and his attitude toward women disdainful. Trump is all about himself: his needs, his ego, his self-preservation. She defended not only herself; she defended principle and countless women. And all in just a few short minutes on the floor of the House of Representatives.
I also wanted to bring light to someone who’s made a huge impact in society since the day she stepped into the courtroom. An important figure of the legal fight for women’s rights in the 1970s, Ruth Bader Ginsburg subsequently served 27 years on the nation’s highest court, becoming its most prominent member. She changed the way the world is for American women. For more than a decade, until her first judicial appointment in 1980, she led the fight in the courts for gender equality. When she began her legal crusade, women were treated, by law, differently from men. Hundreds of state and federal laws restricted what women could do, barring them from jobs, rights and even from jury service. By the time she donned judicial robes, however, Ginsburg had worked a revolution. By then Ginsburg was earning quite a reputation. She would become the first female tenured professor at Columbia Law School, and she would found the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. Over the years, Ginsburg would file dozens of briefs seeking to persuade the courts that the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection applies not just to racial and ethnic minorities but to women as well. Ginsburg will surely be remembered for her poise and strong demeanor for women everywhere.
Najah Hendricks is a fourth-year Social Work major, Youth Empowerment & Urban Studies Minor. Nh871270@wcupa.