Woman Crush Wednesday – Belva Lockwood

Amy Phillips

Our #WomanCrushWednesday goes out to the very first woman ever to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court, Belva Lockwood. Belva was considered “unladylike” for her pursuit of education and a career. We’re pretty grateful for her “unladylike” attitude and the path she began paving for women in law.

In 1844, Belva Lockwood graduated from her one-room schoolhouse at the age of 14 and became a teacher herself – back then, during the summertime, women were allowed to teach girls and younger students, when men were working the fields. (Men taught boys in the winter.) When Belva pointed out women teachers were making less than men for doing the same job, her complaints fell on deaf ears. Twelve years later, as a college graduate, she was still complaining – but not capitulating. After moving to Washington, D.C., and learning women were still making less than men, Belva successfully lobbied for a bill that would give female federal employees the same pay as men. That victory fueled her passion to pursue a career in law. She was denied entry into several law schools, including Georgetown – bet you can guess why! Belva studied law privately until the National University Law School opened its doors to women. Belva also fought for women’s suffrage in newly proposed states, including Oklahoma and Arizona. She ran for president twice – once in 1884, and again in 1888 – as an Equal Rights Party candidate. She couldn’t even vote herself, but pointed out that there was no law saying a man couldn’t vote for HER. She didn’t come close to winning either election, but she did raise awareness of gender issues. Belva fought for equal rights for minorities, as well – in 1906, well before reparations, she helped the Cherokee people win a $5 million reimbursement from the government.

Belva Lockwood was also a wife and mother to two little girls, one of whom died before she was two years old. Her husband died when Belva was 22, leaving her with a three-year-old. Her parents helped care for the little girl while she went to college. Belva Lockwood died in Washington, D.C. in 1917.

#WCW #Equality #WomenHelpingWomen #DoGoodBeGood

 

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