The Women Who Made Hillary Clinton's Candidacy Possible That You've Never Even Heard Of
With the announcement on Tuesday night from the woman herself that Hillary Clinton would be the presumptive Democratic nominee, she's already made history. Reaching the 2,383 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination with a final push from her successful night in Puerto Rico and some confirmed support from super delegates, Clinton wrote on Twitter that she hasn't yet accepted those results — not until the final six primary votes actually take place. However, regardless of the outcome, it's clear that Clinton has still made history as the first woman in U.S. history to make it so far in a primary races (not once, but twice) and the first woman to be projected as the winner.
It's been a long road, from the early days of our country when women were seen as unfit to vote for their representation, let alone seek our highest office for themselves in a major political party. But, it's clear, that Clinton's rise to political prominence didn't come out of nowhere: Instead, it was born out of the long-suffering work of countless women throughout history who consistently fought —often through years and years of civil service and less-than-glamorous grunt work — for every inch of progress achieved.
While it's impossible to fully capture the diverse groups of women who've contributed their heart, souls and labor to causes of social and political equality, here's just a few of the women who have undoubtedly made it possible to see a woman closing in on the Democratic nomination.
Sojourner Truth (1851)
Best known for her famous speech, referred to as "Ain't I A Woman?", given at a Women's Convention in Akron, Ohio, (where all the other speakers were men) Sojourner Truth was a trailblazer who captured the complexities of black womanhood in the days of abolition, confronting the complex intersections between race and gender. While she was born into slavery, Truth was one of the first women to successfully sue to have her son (who was illegally sold into slavery in Alabama) returned to her.
Badass quote: "If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back — and get it right side up again."
Victoria Woodhull (1871)
Long before any women in the U.S. earned the right to vote, Victoria Woodhull ran for president as part of the Equal Rights Party: running on platforms supporting women's education, right to vote and right to control their own health decisions. Prior to her political career, Woodhull earned a living as a medium and spiritual advisor — including advising the powerful Cornelius Vanderbilt who helped her (along with her sister) become the first female stock brokers.
Badass quote: "I shall not change my course because those who assume to be better than I desire it."
Jeanette Rankin (1916)
The first woman elected to the House of Representatives, Jeanette Rankin built her career on ideals as a pacifist and a defender of women and children. As representative from Montana, she was known as the only member of congress who voted against both World Wars.
Badass quote: "I may be the first woman member of Congress, but I won’t be the last."
Shirley Chisholm (1968)
As the first African-American Woman representing New York (Oh hey, Brooklyn!), Chisholm described herself as a politician "for the people," fighting to see equal attention paid to Black neighborhoods and was incredibly vocal about the power of women — particularly black women — in creating lasting political change. She also became the first African-American woman to seek the nomination from the Democratic party during her second term, seeking to be seen as a "viable candidate" and not merely a symbolic one.
Badass quote: "People came and asked me to do something … I'm here because of the vacuum."
Ultimately, it's due to all the people who believed in women.
Clinton herself told ABC News (shortly after news broke that she had met the necessary delegate count) that her success is deeply tied to the support of women and girls and those who care hard enough to see them succeed:
Again, the stories of all the women needed to get better representation in politics are enough to fill several books (and they do!) But, it's always been the people — from the little girls who decide they want to be someone great to the parents, teachers, adults that support them — that played the ultimate role in getting women in office.