Passing

It seems like many great people are passing in a short span of time — great people of a tough era: Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, and Betty Friedan. Thinking about these three great women, they truly are national heroes. (I hesitate to use the term heroines…, partly because it makes me think of the hapless protagonist of a novel and partly because it makes me think of the lesser counterpart of the hero, sort of like poet and poetess.) I think about the immense changes these women have made to our society, and I cannot think what life would have been like without them. Sure, it’s quite likely other people would have pushed for similar changes. Much of society was ready for these changes, but these women did do amazing trailblazing. I was listening to a tribute to Friedan, as she just passed away yesterday, on Weekend Edition Sunday (on NPR), and the report said something about how she effected change on such a large scale, that it was even beyond what she could have imagined. Thinking about it, it’s true in so many ways. The report talked about how the perception in the ’60’s was that women wanted to marry doctors and lawyers, not be them. Even my own to sisters-in law-to-be are each preparing for one of those two professions. My sister has a high ranking position in Human Resources, and my mother is a business owner. Clearly, we all know women who are in powerful positions. I look at myself as a teacher, in the female dominated and historically relegated position, and I am happy I have the freedom to choose to be here. I do it because I feel it is a place where I can share my passion for literature and be an agent of social justice and change. The passing of these three women will hopefully be following by other trailblazers.

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