Likely nomination of Hillary Clinton paves way for women to 'dream big'
The historic news that Hillary Clinton has become the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee for president means women everywhere can "dream big."
"It's a great beacon shining for young women across the nation and the world," said Drury High School Principal Amy Meehan. "It's a tremendous accomplishment, and it means that girls and women can dream big."
The Associated Press on Monday night declared that Clinton had amassed enough delegates to win Democratic primary against her opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. She is expected to officially earn the nomination at the party convention in Philadelphia next month.
It will mark the first time in history that a woman is put forward as a major party candidate for president of the United States. Clinton previously made history when she became the first former first lady to seek elected office. She won a seat as a New York senator in 2000.
"This is an historical moment and we need to acknowledge that," said state Rep. Tricia Farley Bouvier D-Pittsfield. "We need to pause and reflect on that."
It was nearly 170 years ago that women such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton set out to secure the vote for women. Both suffragettes died before women cast their first ballots after the 19th Amendment was ratified in August 1920.
"We didn't get the right to vote in their time," Farley-Bouvier said. "Women had their families, their children, taken away for seeking the right to vote. It used to be only white men of property who voted but today we see the changes."
Clinton's presumed nomination points directly to modern day voters, she said, and noted that as minorities joined with ranks of women voters, the combination created a new and different electorate.
"Think about history," she said. "The difference is women and people of color, these people who for so long had no vote."
The struggle for equality in all arenas is exemplified by Clinton, she said.
"Nobody has been put through the wringer like Hillary Clinton has," Farley-Bouvier said. "When you see the barriers that have been put up they say that a woman has to work twice as hard as a man but in reality they have to work much harder than that. Hillary gets knocked down but she keeps getting up. There's a proverb that says 'Get knocked down eight times, get up nine.''
Drury High School reading and English teacher Susan Lenhoff remembered protests and marches demanding women's rights.
"I came of age in the 1970s," she said. "This is the time when we were protesting for women's rights. I'd thought we'd be farther along by now."
Clinton's nomination means new doors opening for the next generation of women, Lenhoff said.
"With this nomination there is hope," she said. "This means every little girl born today can be president; there are no barriers."
Gwendolyn Van Sant, chairwoman of the Berkshire County Commission of the Status of Women welcomed the news that a woman will likely be the Democratic nominee. The organization cannot endorse any candidate but does recognize the significance of the moment, she said.
"It's about time," she said. "It's really important to have broken that barrier. I believe that Hillary Clinton will inspire women to go out and go beyond what they thought they could do."
Women must use their voices to connect with Clinton and make her aware of the challenges that they encounter across every venue of life, she said.
"I believe that women should be called upon to surround her and inform her so that she can represent women the best that she can," Van Sant said. "I believe in women's leadership. We need to reclaim what we've already done and move forward. This is an invitation for all women to get out and vote."
Clinton's rise is a clear indicator of the differences women can make throughout all walks of life and politics.
"We have a lot of work ahead of us," Farley Bouvier said. "Election results matter. I take my right to vote as sacred."
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