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Climbing the Hill
Two influential and iconic Washington women—former Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski and news commentator and political analyst Cokie Roberts—will kick off a new series at Washington College on Friday, March 3. The event launches a new series of programs commemorating the upcoming centennial of the amendment that gave American women the right to vote.
In “Climbing the Hill,” Roberts will lead a conversation with Mikulski about the changing roles and influence of women in public life over the course of her 40-year congressional career. John Harwood of CNBC and The New York Times will introduce the speakers.
The free, public event, sponsored by the Harwood Lecture Series, is at 5 p.m. in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts. It will be followed by a reception in the Underwood Lobby, and copies of Roberts’ books will be available for purchase and signing. The event will also be live streamed at https://livestream.com/washcoll/womenscentennialevent .
The Hon. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., served in the U.S. Congress longer than any other woman in American history. At her retirement in 2017, she had represented Maryland for 30 years in the Senate, preceded by 10 in the House of Representatives. The first woman to chair the powerful Appropriations Committee, she began her career in public service as a member of the Baltimore City Council, and while she rose to the heights of power in Congress, she never neglected her Baltimore roots, a commitment that earned her enormous loyalty in her home state. Her legacy includes major achievements in women’s pay equity and healthcare, as well as in advancing political engagement for new generations of American women. In 2015 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. She is now professor of public policy at Johns Hopkins University.
Cokie Roberts, an acclaimed reporter and commentator for ABC News and National Public Radio, served as NPR’s congressional correspondent for more than 10 years. From 1996-2002 she and Sam Donaldson co-anchored the weekly ABC interview program This Week. In her more than 40 years in broadcasting, she has won three Emmys and has been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. American Women in Radio and Television named her one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting. A prolific writer, she has written six New York Times bestsellers, several of them on women’s political lives in early America—We Are Our Mother’s Daughters, Founding Mothers, Ladies of Liberty, and Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848-1868. Her children’s book Founding Mothers, illustrated by Caldecott award winner Diane Goode, was also a bestseller, and the children’s version of Ladies of Liberty, also illustrated by Goode, was published in December 2016.
The event, sponsored by the Harwood Series in American Journalism and the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, leads off a new series at Washington College, the Women’s Centennial. The series looks ahead to the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave American women the right to vote. Over the next four years, leading up to the 2020 anniversary itself, the Women’s Centennial will bring outstanding American women to campus, honoring and chronicling the achievements of women in leadership and public life from 1920 to the present day.
With its distinctive connection to the history of American freedom and its tradition of educating women and men as citizen leaders—and now under the leadership of its first female president, Sheila Bair—Washington College is uniquely suited to host the Women’s Centennial. The College has deep traditions of gender inclusivity: in 1783, it hired the first recorded female faculty member in American higher education, the art instructor Elizabeth Callister Peale. In May 1942, Washington College bestowed an honorary degree on First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
About the Washington College’s Harwood Lecture Series in American Journalism
The series was established to honor the distinguished career of the late Washington Post columnist and ombudsman Richard Harwood, who served as a trustee of the College, as well as a teacher and mentor of undergraduate journalists. The Harwood series has featured David Axelrod, Susan Goldberg, Tom Wheeler, Howard Dean, Robert Novak, John McCain, James Carville, Judy Woodruff, Al Hunt, Mark Shields, and Paul Gigot, among others. The journalistic tradition has also continued in Harwood’s own family; his son, John Harwood, has had a distinguished career as a political correspondent and columnist for CNBC, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.