By Julia Burdsall, Editor-in-Chief
Each day since your passing I have seen signs of your legacy in my life—signs of the footprints you made in the world you left behind. It was those footprints that blazed a trail for women like me and for that I am eternally grateful.
For most of my life I knew not the power of your name; I wish I could have bestowed upon you my feelings of gratitude and admiration sooner. For all you have taught me and all you have done to clear the boulders from my path you deserve much more than I could ever give.
Like a trojan, you worked tirelessly for women and minorities to sip from the chalice of freedom and equality—a chalice which had been stripped from our hands the moment Satan tempted Eve. Your dissent in the landmark case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company allowed women across the nation the right to equal pay. Your dissent in the landmark case Roe v. Wade endowed women the right to ultimate jurisdiction over their bodies. And so, It comes as no surprise that you earned your “notorious” reputation. Just like your Brooklyn neighbor, the Notorious B.I.G, from whom your eponymous moniker was lifted you too used language as a form of protest.
You defied the odds, and I will forever look to you for guidance in moments where I attempt to do the same. As a young woman in male-dominated politics during the 70s and 80s you were an unlikely role model. But, you soon won the hearts of millions throughout your adulthood with your dogmatic and admirable convictions on everything from gay marriage to women inclusion in military institutes. As a minority within the political sphere you looked adversity in the face and refused to flinch.
I had no clue just how good we had it. I assumed that you would hang in there, that your fiery passion for social justice and equality (and fitness!) would keep your flame burning until you knew it was safe for it to blow out. Now, without your luminescence, those of us who you’ve left here on Earth face tumultuous times ahead. The good you did for our nation is soon to be thrown out the window without second thought because of the incompetence of our nation’s “leader.”
Another woman is going to waltz through every door you opened for her—for us—and slam them right in our faces. My blood curdles at the thought of someone tearing apart your legacy, but the future is indeed uncertain. With a clown as president it is hard to tell what is real and fake, what is an empty promise and what will actually be accomplished.
As I see the signs of your legacy in my life—the fair wage my mom makes, the planned parenthood clinic downtown—I remind myself that, while you were a rarity I have hope that other women with dignity, grace and compassion will rise to the occasion and fill your seat. I know you would expect nothing less.
This is not a goodbye, but rather a thank you. Thank you for spending decades working for young women like myself whom you knew you’d never meet. Thank you for showing me what a strong woman looks like. Thank you for giving me someone to admire and aspire to become.
Until we meet in another life,