Aug 17

A Woman VP?

by Sargent Shriver Peace Institute | 08/17/2020 11:01AM | Quote of the Week | Leadership

Quote Of The Week 08172020

Our Quote of the Week, spoken almost 48 years ago, shows us Sargent Shriver's openness towards having women in power.

While running for Vice President on the McGovern ticket in 1972, Sargent Shriver did an interview with KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the interview, he was asked about the prospects for women running for elected office. Our Quote of the Week was his answer to the question. Note the reference to Shirley Chisholm, who was the first Black woman elected to the US Congress and who ran for President in the 1972 Democratic Primary.

When asked about Black candidates in the same interview, Shriver said the following:

"Twenty years ago when I was on the Board of Education in Chicago, I used to enjoy going to the high schools where the population was predominantly Black and saying that I hoped that I was speaking, right at that moment, before an audience in which the future mayor of Chicago was sitting. I’m sure there will be a Black mayor of Chicago. I think there will be Black governors and I think it’s perfectly possible there will be a Black President of the United States."

To put Shriver's responses into context, this interview was given:

  • only eight years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act;
  • nine years before the election of Chicago's first Black mayor, Harold Washington;
  • 11 years before Geraldine Ferraro was selected as Walter Mondale's Vice Presidential candidate (Charlotta Bass, an African American woman, had run for Vice President on the Progressive ticket in 1952);
  • 36 years before Barack Obama was elected President;
  • 44 years before Hillary Clinton ran for President in 2016;
  • 48 years before a record six women, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard, and Marianne Williamson, ran for President in the Democratic Presidential Primary, and when the first Black and Asian American woman, Kamala Harris, was chosen as the Vice Presidential candidate.

The recording of this interview reveals that Sargent Shriver's responses to these questions are matter-of-fact and that he had a welcoming and enthusiastic attitude towards inclusion that is refreshing and still needed, even today.

We continue to celebrate such "firsts" among our political candidates in 2020 -- as we should -- but we look forward to a time when our political leaders represent the make-up of our population more closely, and there are no more "firsts" of this type.

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