Geraldine Ferraro died today after battling multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, for the past twelve years. She was 75.While she has had a long and established career, what many moms my age remember is when she became the first woman to be nominated for U.S. Vice-President by a major political party.
Ferraro ran with Democratic nominee Walter Mondale in the 1984 election, but to President Ronald Reagan and his running mate George H.W. Bush. I didn’t know much about politics back then as a preteen but I did know that she a woman standing up alongside the men of the political world, and she refused to be overlooked. Long before Hilary Clinton, Ferraro was a strong female role model for young girls.
CNBC points out that Ferraro’s name became synonymous with being a capable, can-do female:
Ferraro sometimes overshadowed former Vice President Mondale on the campaign trail, often drawing larger crowds and more media attention than the presidential candidate.
“No one asks anymore if women can raise the money, if women can take the heat, if women have the stamina for the toughest political campaigns in this country,” Judy Goldsmith, then-president of the National Organization for Women told People Magazine in December 1984. “Geraldine Ferraro did them all.”
Ferraro’s support of abortion rights caused controversy and several protests of her favorable view of abortion rights marked her campaign.
There isn’t much that Ferraro didn’t do. Before her involvement in politics, she taught second grade at P.S. 85 in Astoria, Queens, part of the District she would later represent in Congress. Ferraro was also a stay-at-home mom, and spent thirteen years at home raising her children, during which time she also practiced law pro bono in Queens County Family Court on behalf of women and children and served as President of the Queens County Women’s Bar Association.
In later years, Ferraro ran campaigns for a seat in the United States Senate from New York in 1992 and 1998, both times emerging as the front-runner for her party’s nomination but losing in primary elections. She also served as a United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights from 1993 until 1996 in the presidential administration of Bill Clinton. Most recently, she served in the 2008 presidential campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Her family released a statement after her death today saying:
“Geraldine Anne Ferraro Zaccaro was widely known as a leader, a fighter for justice, and a tireless advocate for those without a voice. To us, she was a wife, mother, grandmother and aunt, a woman devoted to and deeply loved by her family. Her courage and generosity of spirit throughout her life waging battles big and small, public and personal, will never be forgotten and will be sorely missed.”