Saturday, March 26, 2011

RIP: Geraldine Anne Ferraro

Geraldine Ferraro
Geraldine Anne Ferraro was born in Newburgh, New York on August 26, 1935. She was an American attorney, a Democratic Party politician and a member of the United States House of Representatives. She earned a place in history as the first woman vice-presidential candidate on a national party ticket.

Geraldine Anne Ferraro grew up in New York City and became a teacher and lawyer. She joined the Queens County District Attorney's Office in 1974, where she headed the new Special Victims Bureau that dealt with sex crimes, child abuse, and domestic violence. She was elected to Congress in 1978, where she rose rapidly in the party hierarchy while focusing on legislation to bring equity for women in the areas of wages, pensions, and retirement plans. In 1984, former Vice President and presidential candidate Walter Mondale selected Ferraro to be his running mate in the upcoming election. In doing so she became the only Italian American to be a major-party national nominee in addition to being the first woman. The positive polling the Mondale-Ferarro ticket received when she joined faded as questions about her and her husband's finances arose. In the general election, Mondale and Ferraro were defeated in a landslide by incumbent President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H. W. Bush.

Geraldine Anne Ferraro
Ferraro ran campaigns for a seat in the United States Senate from New York in 1992 and 1998, both times emerging as the front-runner for her party's nomination but losing in primary elections both times. She served as a United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights from 1993 until 1996, in the presidential administration of Bill Clinton. She also continued her career as a journalist, author, and businesswoman, and served in the 2008 presidential campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Ferraro died on March 26, 2011, after a 12-year battle with multiple myeloma.

Ferraro continued to battle multiple myeloma, but died from complications of it on March 26, 2011, at Massachusetts General Hospital. In addition to her husband and children, she was survived by eight grandchildren.

President Obama said upon her passing that "Geraldine will forever be remembered as a trailblazer who broke down barriers for women, and Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life," and said that his own two daughters would grow up in a more equal country because of what Ferraro had done. Mondale called her "a remarkable woman and a dear human being . 

She was a pioneer in our country for justice for women and a more open society. She broke a lot of molds and it's a better country for what she did." George H. W. Bush said, "Though we were one-time political opponents, I am happy to say Gerry and I became friends in time – a friendship marked by respect and affection. I admired Gerry in many ways, not the least of which was the dignified and principled manner she blazed new trails for women in politics." Palin paid tribute to her on Facebook, saying, "She broke one huge barrier and then went on to break many more. May her example of hard work and dedication to America continue to inspire all women." Bill and Hillary Clinton said in a statement that, "Gerry Ferraro was one of a kind – tough, brilliant, and never afraid to speak her mind or stand up for what she believed in – a New York icon and a true American original."

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