Tag Archives: Mame Reilly

The glass ceiling shatters!

Hillary Clinton – shattering the glass ceiling

Hillary Clinton – shattering the glass ceiling

Shirley Chisholm in 1972 was the first black person to announce for President, and the first woman as well.

Shirley said, “I met more discrimination as a woman than for being black. Men are men.”

Shirley faced death threats and knew she might likely fail but ran anyhow to “change the face and future of American politics.”

In 2008, two separate candidates vied to “change the face” America presents to the world.

America fulfilled part of Shirley’s prophecy in 2008 with the election of then Senator Barack Obama.

This year we are trying to meet Shirley’s second hope – to inoculate the oval office against the sexual discrimination Shirley suffered.

I’ve worked for some great women over the years who pushed against the glass ceiling and some were certainly inspired by Shirley.

What sex discrimination has been and mostly remains today is that a woman must excel, be better than a man, to hope to be treated equally.

Over the years, I’ve worked with Bella Abzug, and Liz Holtzman and Mary Sue Terry and Emilie Miller and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Maxine Waters and Loretta Sanchez and Nancy Pelosi. I served as Special Counsel to Rep. Patsy Mink from Hawaii and Rep. Zoe Lofgren from California.

All these women were strong, striving to make a difference, to advance individual rights, with the stamina required of women to break through the slights they suffer, like when a woman makes a point among men and women, but is not heard until a man repeats the point she made.

It’s an encouraging shift toward equal rights this year that more men found they could hear what Hillary had to say.
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Mame – you may have known her

Mame Reilly was a democratic activist who cared deeply about the issues and the causes that make a civilization and enrich and sustain a people and she made a difference touching and leading so many political campaigns and inspiring so many pols and people.

Her time was too short.

This remarkable lady has died but I can see her broad smile as if she were standing before me right now ribbing Jim Moran.

It is an Irish curse, Yeats said, to dream things the world has never seen. Mame Reilly dreamed and acted upon those dreams, the unfinished American dream, and, because of her belief, of her belief that things needed to change, she helped make those changes for the middle class, for women, for persons of color, for so many who needed a fair break.

Mame was also a nice and kind person with a gentle way in a hard business, politics, the business she did best.

When I left the Hill in December 2001, after 9-11, I was spoiled for politics. Mame sensed I needed a cause to get me going again. That’s how she was with every one.

When we all worked in the presidential campaign in 2008, Mame always seemed to be within two degrees of separation of anything you might be doing in that historic primary and the general election campaign. We had a battle between two great Americans in the primary that defied the conventional wisdom that no black or woman would or could become president.

Mame was loyal and good and true as only the Irish can be.

There’s a harp playing an Irish jig in her honor in memory of this great lady.

I can hear her humming that Irish tune.

Mame, how we all loved you!