I always think of my pantsuit-wearing mom, her vigorous fight for justice, and her unending quest for women’s rights, especially around election time. Four years ago, I wrote a post about how my mom would be so thrilled at the prospect of a woman winning the presidency. It wasn’t meant to be, of course.
But watching Kamala Harris’ soaring speech accepting the vice presidency, crediting her mother and all the women who came before her, I could almost feel my mom next to me. Madam Vice President-elect acknowledged “all the women who have worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century.”
“I reflect on their struggle, their determination, and the strength of their vision to see what can be unburdened by what has been,” she said. ”And I stand on their shoulders.”
My mom is not only my inspiration, but she was also one of those women who helped lay the groundwork for this historic election that placed a woman of color in the second-highest office in the land. Women voters overwhelming supported her and Joe Biden, choosing to throw out a president known for disrespecting women.
I remember raucous conversations and laughter at League of Women Voters meetings in our Anchorage living room when my mom was president of the chapter. She and her LWV comrades fought for the Equal Rights Amendment, organized initiatives, and made their voices heard.
My mom ran political campaigns, held numerous civic positions, won the mayor’s award for outstanding service to the community, and tutored students preparing for college. She was a force, and she taught my sister and I we could do whatever we wanted. She had a strong partner in my dad who always encourages me to pursue my dreams.
Even as her body failed her, my mom fought. We lost her far too soon, but her legacy lives on and her spirit surrounds me.
I wish Kamala’s mom was here to see her daughter at this defining moment in history. I wish my mom was here to toast to the moment with me. I remain grateful to her, and all the other women who opened doors for their daughters and granddaughters. We owe them not only gratitude, but also the commitment to continue to fight for change.
As the vice president-elect said, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last, because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
Thank you mom, for showing your little girl that too.
Read the post about the 2016 election.
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Brilliant !!! Love you and your super amazing mom who always kept her heart and home open to rascals like me!
I loved your article Katherine!! I cried the whole time I read it. I know how hard your Mom worked at the League of Women Voters in Anchorage and the whole state of Alaska. She was a very respected woman in Anchorage. I think she made all of us women in her family strong women, who are not afraid to say what they believe. Thank God for the memory of Karen Hedland!!