This Sunday is Mother's Day, a time to honor, celebrate and thank those who have given so much to us, their children. We owe a huge debt to them for all they have given us. We also owe a debt to many other women who weren't mothers but who did much to improve our lives. The following list highlights just a few of the women who have worked and are working to make the U.S. a more humane nation.
Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, advocated for civil rights for African-Americans and Asian-Americans and for an expanded role for women in the workplace. Among many other vital contributions, she played a major role in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Dorothy Day acted on her belief of "compassion for the multitude." She worked with Peter Maurin in establishing the Catholic Worker Movement that provides direct assistance for the poor and homeless. Pope Francis included her on his list of four exemplary Americans in his address before the U.S. Congress.
Cheri Honkala has worked tirelessly on anti-poverty campaigns, particularly in Minnesota and the Philadelphia area, and she continues to play a key role advocating for the homeless and poor.
Rachel Carson, a noted marine biologist and successful writer, and Lois Gibbs focused on the environment. Carson's book "Silent Spring" had a monumental impact and brought the issue of environmental contamination to the world's attention. Gibbs became an activist on behalf of her child and her Love Canal neighbors. She showed that normal citizens could make a difference, and her efforts highlighted the need for the Superfund Act.
Dolores Huerta, Rosa Parks, Cynthia McKinney and Linda Sarsour are four other inspirational activists for human rights. Huerta has long been an activist for workers', immigrants' and women's rights. She co-founded the National Farm Workers Association with Cesar Chavez. Parks was long involved with the civil rights movement, and her refusal to give up her seat on a bus in 1955 played a major role in galvanizing efforts for the civil rights campaign. McKinney served six terms in Congress and was a courageous voice challenging conventional wisdom on many issues. Sarsour, a Palestinian-American, is working on building a progressive movement here. She was a co-chair of the 2017 Women's March and the Day Without a Woman protest and strike held on International Women's Day.
Last, but definitely not least, are the tens of millions of unheralded mothers who manage to successfully raise their children despite living in underserved and underprivileged areas. Thank you all for being great role models!
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.