I was sitting in the hospital waiting room. My friend was getting a new hip and I was happy to await the news of a successful surgery.
I’d been doing my best to ignore the latest daily bad news of our country running nonstop on the big screen television when my phone alert popped up.
“Oh no,” I said aloud to no one.
The television suddenly had my full attention. I stood up to read the news ticker at the bottom of the screen—-Breaking News: Cokie Roberts Dead at 75.
I go weeks without turning on my television in my home. But on this morning I took in every word.
Cokie was one of the founding mothers of National Public Radio (NPR). I first heard her voice in July of 1981.
I worked on family law cases in a small law firm while studying for the bar exam. Our boss would alternate between public radio with his reggae cassette collection. I remember listening to Cokie as she explained the implications of President Ronald Reagan appointing the first woman to the United States Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Connor would then go on to be sworn in to the court that September, the same month I was sworn in to the bar.
For nearly 20 years of the last century and nearly 20 years of the current one, Cokie used plain language to help U.S. citizens understand how politics and government worked. She, along with Nina Totenberg and Linda Wertheimer—known as the Three Musketeers—revolutionized political journalism. Close in age and friendship, they supported one another to transform a once all-male industry into one where they played major roles in political news.
It would be Nina Totenberg who, a decade after the Day appointment, would give the reporting on another important time for the Senate Judiciary Committee: the testimony of Anita Hill at the confirmation hearing of nominee Clarence Thomas to the United States Supreme Court. Totenberg would later comment that the sexual harassment story Hill told was “her (Nina’s) story,” as she had been similarly treated by a former boss.
October always has me thinking about brave women. It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I think of the those who have the courage to start a new life, even risk being killed when they leave a violent relationship. It’s also Breast Cancer Awareness Month which makes me I think of the millions of women who live with it, survived it, or fear it.
Cokie Roberts died of breast cancer. I cherish anew all of the women in my life who are by my side on my journey. My Ninas and my Lindas. With them, we, too, can be a part of some small revolution.
Who are your Musketeers?
Which courageous women inspire you?
Are you a part of some small revolution?