Tag Archives: courage

Ma McDonough Was No Ordinary Woman

Another great guest post. All of them have made this my best WHM series ever. Today’s post is from Liz O’Donnell from Hello Ladies. I hope you enjoy reading about her great-grandmother as much as I do.

I live in the house where I was raised. Some may think of me as a “townie,” one of those New England creatures who never leaves home. And when they look at my house, I’m sure they see a place that needs lots of work. The yard needs landscaping, the upstairs bathroom needs plumbing, and the kitchen has a gaping hole in the ceiling over the sink (see upstairs bathroom). But what they can’t see is the foundation. Not the cement that supports the frame of the house, but the history that holds me up.

This Women’s History Month. While I honor the women who have, should or will make the history books – Rosa Parks, Lilly Ledbetter, Hillary Clinton and so many others, I find myself thinking about my personal history and one of the women who shaped my life. The National Women’s History Project writes, “Learning about women’s tenacity, courage, and creativity throughout the centuries is a tremendous source of strength.” I know this is true.

Eighty years ago, my great-grandmother Ma McDonough bought the house where I live. At that time, women didn’t purchase property, but Ma McDonough was no ordinary woman.

My great-grandmother came from a well-to-do family in Ireland. As was the tradition then, her older brother was set to inherit the family farm and she would inherit nothing. So Ma McDonough left for Boston, rather than be dependent on someone else. She married, raised four children and somehow managed to save money. When her husband died, she moved out of the city and bought herself and three of her then adult children a new house in the suburbs. It was the Great Depression and the builder had run out of money. Ma McDonough had cash and moved in.

Posted in Know Your History, Personal Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alice Paul’s Equal Rights Amendment Back at the Plow

“I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality.” – Alice Paul, suffragist and author of the still-not-ratified Equal Rights Amendment

Yesterday, March 22, was World Water Day. That got a modicum of press. But did you know it was also the 39th anniversary of the date on which Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) passed out of the U. S. Congress and was sent to the states to be ratified? Probably not. And yet, if there is a resource women need as much as clean water, it must be the guarantee of equality under the law.

The original ERA, introduced in Congress in 1923, was written by Alice Paul, a women’s rights activist instrumental in the 1920 ratification of the 19th amendment, which guaranteed women’s right to vote. Paul also started the National Women’s Party, believing that without a political organization’s clout, women’s concerns would never be taken seriously by politicians. Paul was also one of the few women’s suffrage leaders who realized that getting the right to vote was necessary but not sufficient to enable women to be equal partners in society. She argued that those who had fought for suffrage should then shift their work to getting laws passed that would continue to expand women’s rights.

“When you put your hand to the plow,” Paul said, “you can’t put it down until you get to the end of the row.”

How right she was! And we aren’t there yet.

Posted in Create a Movement, Know Your History, Leadership, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments
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Copyright 2010 Gloria Feldt