On Friday night, we lost an icon. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a beloved mother, grandmother, and wife of 56 years to the late Martin “Marty” Ginsburg. She was also a scholar of the law, attending three Ivy League Universities, serving on the US Court of Appeals for 13 years, and sitting on the Supreme Court from 1993 until the day she died. Ginsburg embodied hard work and persistence, often working late into the night as she battled cancer multiple times over her life.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, affectionately known as RBG, was a leader of the feminist movement. She transformed the lives of Americans by dedicating her life to achieving gender equity. There have been many articles published about her over the last few days, extolling her accomplishments. But beyond that, RBG’s life has directly touched the lives of so many, and I was interested in hearing some of these stories in order to honor her legacy. Please enjoy this collection of recounts: “What RBG Means To Me”.
“The Supreme Court is not a perfect institution, and RBG was not perfect herself, but her life should serve as an example to us for how to lead an existence in pursuit of justice. She was a liberal lion, and her passing is a blow to anyone who supports the cause of equality.”
Stephen Dames, 17
“My RBG doll is the only “superhero” doll I own!
My RBG mug is what I drink from whenever I need to feel strong…
I think of RBG when I do 30 planks
A hero for our times!”
“I thank RBG for being such an inspiration to young women across the world. When I was younger, I wanted to be a justice on the Supreme Court — the first black female justice. Because of her, I knew my dream was possible. She kept hope alive during this administrative term, and she is such a fighter. I will never forget her. Rest in power RBG.”
“RBG spoke out in active dissent against the forces of bigotry and prejudice to strengthen our country. This, to me, defines the truest sense of means to be a patriot.”
“From the time I was a little girl sitting in my Catholic church and not being able to be an alter “person,” I was aware of the unfair treatment of women by our society. RBG changed my life and the lives of all women in our country for the better. I am so grateful for her hard work and commitment to fair treatment under the law.”
Ann Barbara, 76
“I didn’t know a lot about RBG, but I did a little bit of research and learned how much she fought for women and equality. I am really hoping that a woman is put into place as the new Supreme Court judge, because if not, I’m very worried for our future.”
“In the last several years, RBG was very frail. I saw her when she spoke at the 92nd Street Y. Although frail in body, she was a powerhouse in spirit and intellect. She was very personable, even when answering questions from some contrary audience members. Her skills at consensus building were very evident. We have truly lost a giant in the field.”
“Like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in 1980 when I was hired as a publication designer at Exxon’s New York City headquarters, I was verbally abused by a few male co-workers who said I was taking the place of a “bread-winner”. As if I as a single woman who graduated from Parsons School of Design on a full Rockefeller Scholarship was not good enough to work there. Or – that I had a right to support myself!
This was a time when the Employment Classifieds in the New York Times had two categories: Jobs for Men and Jobs for Women. It was a time when it was difficult for women to get credit cards. It was not until RBG was sworn in as a Supreme Court judge that those attitudes began to change. RBG fought to get justice and equality for so many groups of minorities – too long to list here. We will not go back. If just all the women whose lives have been changed for the better since her time on the court vote – our country will be back on the road to “normal”. Rest in Power RBG.”
Jane Barbara, 67
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was one of the first “famous” people I ever saw myself in. She was Brooklyn born and raised, just like my beloved grandmother, and she was Jewish. Her family spoke the same old forget tongue that mine did. She had dark brown eyebrows like mine and dark hair, and she was short like most of the women in my family but had an unequivocal spunk to her (like many of the women in my family). She carried herself through this world with the utmost intelligence and grace. I remember when her documentary came out, and I went to see it with my grandparents in a small indie theater in Brookline. For the first time, we all saw our people represented in light that we could relate too. And as I stared up at the movie poster, I saw myself in her gown and white spiral neckpieces. I saw myself in the way she talked about her Jewish history, her commitment to social justice and law. Her activism was not through picketing, like many others, but rather through studying as hard as she could, so she could legally help women and minorities at a judicial level never seen before. Her dissents were a testament to her belief in everyone’s rights under the constitution, and they like many other things she did became iconic.
Her husband Marty got very sick when she was in law school, so she did his work, her own, and raised her firstborn child. If that is not a testament to the strength she possessed then I don’t know what is. Or maybe it’s that she beat cancer multiple times!
I never had the privilege of meeting her, but the Jewish activist world is pretty freaking small and so I know others that have. I have always been really into what people smell like. What type of perfume does Justice Ginsburg wear? Is it the same one my nanny wore when I was a little girl? Although it probably was not I was told she did smell good. The women told me that she is a very well deserved role model. And I still happen to agree.
Another time I saw the movie with my mother On the Basis of Sex. Again I was blown away. A scene that still moves me to tears is when the camera cuts from the actress who plays her walking up the Supreme Court’s steps to RBG walking up those same steps, turning around and seeing DC laid out in front of her like a red carpet. I will never forget her power, or her strength, and it will forever be a guiding principle in my life. As for the future, I don’t know what it will do to ruin her legacy to taint her identity. But for now, I mourn. She was a wondrous woman, who meant so much to me and other Jewish girls around the world. May she rest in power and may her memory not only be a blessing, but a revolution.”
יהי זכרה מהפכה
Sophie Dalton, 17
Do you have thoughts and feelings you’d like to share about RBG? Please share them here–we hope to update this collection with more of your words and reflections!
Molly May is a high school senior from Long Island, New York. She first became interested in politics after the 2016 election and has gone on to work with local campaigns as well as co-found a chapter of High School Democrats for America. Molly is particularly interested in the climate crisis, gender discrimination, and reducing today’s polarized climate. She hopes to combine her love of politics with the analytical skills of mathematics to pursue political science in the future.