Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson (1912 – 2007) lived a very full life, and cannot be summed up easily in 250 words. She believed in, and fought for equal rights and opportunities for all, regardless of gender or ethnicity.
She went to college to be a journalist, and then married the political Lyndon B. Johnson. She pushed him to continue his political career.
Perhaps, she saw this as the best way to help women and ethnic groups. Within politics, a whisper and whisper there could lead to change.
While her husband was president, he signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act outlawed discrimination based on race. She encouraged him to face those who were angry at him for passing this law. He traveled the country, and spoke to those who would spit on him for daring to think people of various ethnicities had the same rights as he did.
She also created and helped run the Head Start program. While the program isn’t perfect, none can be, it does help many disadvantaged students who would be dumped into a daycare while both parents work to provide food, clothing, and housing. These students get a chance to learn the beginning of life skills their parents do not have time to teach them. It has changed focus over the years to more of a disability equalizer program.
Besides helping others, she lived up to her name by helping the environment through the Highway Beautification Act of 1965. Her work encouraged preserving the California Redwoods, rather than cutting them all down and turning them into furniture. She served on the National Park board, wrote about the parks. She also founded the National Wildlife Research Center in Austin, Texas.
Let us hope all the work she did will continue to advance and equalize the country. May it never be undone.
Ellen Swallow Richards (1842 – 1911) Was a female trailblazer. She fought for the right for women to obtain degrees in their desired fields. She wanted to be a chemist. However, women were not allowed to at this time.
Perhaps, this a protective endeavor, to prevent women from being poisoned by chemicals. For young adults, recommending returning after parenting would be understandable. However, the outright refusal is not a good idea. It will prevent many breakthroughs. It is an issue of understanding the consequences of working in such and environment.
Well before the EPA was introduced, she encouraged and worked on stream water analysis. At the time, some pollutants were not tested for, or the tests were not as accurate as they might be today.
What would she think of today’s streams full of pesticides, herbicides, and processed medications?
Without the degree, Ellen Swallow Richards continued her studies on her own. She developed sewage treatment options, which have saved millions of lives over the years.
She fought for healthy nutrition, at a time when the industrial revolution was taking off and filling the skies with pollutants. She recognized the dangers of arsenic in wallpaper and clothing, at time when other scientists assured the public it was safe.
Her work in the scientific community helped women reach for a future that had been denied them for so long. Without her work, we’d have reddish grey skies, and toxic, garbage filled waterways.