Monday, November 11, 2013

My Grandmother

I wanted to share a little personal anecdote with everyone.

My grandmother, Frances Lear, passed away when I was four years old so I don't have many memories of her. However, as I grew up my parents frequently told me she was an incredible woman who was very involved in the feminist movement. She had a very difficult childhood and was considered to be a tough person sometimes, but I was always told that she was a passionate defender of woman and minorities' rights. To be honest, I really didn't understand what my parents meant by her involvement in the movement. The truth is I never really asked many questions about it. 

Flash forward to this semester. Every single reading we do makes me realize how little I knew about women's history in the United States. I keep thinking about my grandmother and how excited she would be if she knew her grandson was learning about women like Alice Paul and Shirley Chisholm. 
Now that we are reading about the 1960s and onward, I talked to my mom to find out the extent of my grandmother's involvement in the movement. She informed me that her mother was a member of NOW. I did some research on google and Academic Search Premier and actually found an article she wrote for The Nation!!!

Reading the article was a pretty emotional experience. First of all, I felt like I was hearing my grandmother for the first time--discovering who she was, what she believed in, what she sounded like, what her writing style was like. But then I read the content and realized it was SO relevant to what we are discussing in class. From what I can infer, she is expressing disappointment over the results of the 1980 elections. My grandmother shares her opinions on the ERA and discusses the strategies she believes will improve the women's rights movement. Interestingly, she mentions Bella Abzug!! 

I wanted to include one quote from the article that related a lot to what we have been discussing:

"If we cannot find a way to involve blue-collar women, office workers, housewives, minority women and poor women in the movement, feminism will wither and die. If the wealthy women--and their money--cannot be counted on to support the struggle for economic rights for the poor, the movement can offer little hope to the millions of women and children living in poverty."

That quote made me extremely proud to be her grandson! If you have the time, it's a great article to read! You can access it (hopefully) here

Sorry for the self-indulgence in this blog post!! I wanted to share this moment with you all :)! 


  1. Daniel, thank you so much for sharing this with us! What powerful experience reading her words must have been for you.
    The link did not work for me, but I would really love to read the article.
    I appreciated reading the quote you posted--it is very cool to see the way in which she acknowledged feminism as a movement that should include all women so that it could survive and aid women and children stuck in harsh circumstances. I also think it is particularly noteworthy that she acknowledged the need to include minority women as well, who may have been overlooked by some in the movement.

    It sounds like you have a pretty impressive Grandma. Thanks for sharing this meaningful story with us.

    1. Daniel, Thank you so much for sharing your personal story about your grandmother with us. I found it particularly relevant that she worked towards advancing women's rights by engaging women from lower socioeconomic classes. By threatening that "feminism will wither and die" without engagement from blue-collar workers and minority women, she was able to use an effective tactic of persuasive reasoning to engage her audience. I thought it was relevant that she believed engagement of women from lower class families would be important because these women were most affected my some of the issues feminist's were dealing with at the time. Thanks again for sharing your story -- I'm sure she would be proud of you too that you are equally engaged with these feminist issues.