Sen. Bernie Sanders
April 30, 2012
The history of American democracy, to say the least, has been checkered. Our nation was founded at a time when people of African descent were held in bondage. After slavery was abolished, they were forced to endure legal discrimination for another 100 years.
When our country was formed, women were not just second-class citizens. They were third- or fourth-class citizens. Women couldn’t vote or play a significant role in the political life of the nation. Women, in many cases, couldn’t own property and were legally regarded as subservient in marriage. The educational and economic opportunities open to women were extremely limited. And, of course, women were unable to have control over their own bodies.
In the last 50 years, as the result of an enormous amount of effort on the part of the women’s movement and its male allies, we as a nation have made significant progress in the fight for gender equality. Clearly, much, much more needs to be done, but few would deny that our country has come a very long way in this struggle. In Vermont, Governor Madeleine Kunin has given years of service to our state after becoming the state’s first female governor in 1985. She is an inspiration to girls throughout Vermont and the country in allowing them to know that the opportunities they have are unlimited.
At rallies in Vermont and across the country this weekend, our message was clear. We are not going back. Not only are we not going to retreat on women’s rights, we are going to expand them. We are going forward, not backward.