‘We All Have a Part, But She’s the Icon’

July 08, 2009

The headline on a Kansas City Star column put it best: “Lilly Ledbetter’s name is on a law and a Supreme Court decision, and she’s not done yet.”

Lilly Ledbetter signs autographs at the 2009 AAUW National ConventionSo true. These days, Ledbetter spends a lot of time on the road. She could take a well-deserved break and relax, but she continues to speak out so that tomorrow’s working women will be treated fairly.

On July 25, she’ll be in Minneapolis to give the summer commencement address for Walden University, but for a few days in June she was all ours. Those who attended AAUW’s successful convention in St. Louis, know about which I speak.

Ledbetter agreed to attend and serve as a headline convention speaker. Then she graciously expanded her role by taking time to sign hundreds of autographs. She put her signature on “I am the Face of Pay Equity” posters, on AAUW Outlook magazines (she was our cover girl for the Spring/Summer 2009 issue), and on page A15 of the June 25 issue of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which ran a column titled “Equal Pay is not only about fairness — it’s about survival.”

AAUW Outlook cover and the St. Louis Post Dispatch op-ed featuring Lilly LedbetterAuthored by Ledbetter, AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, and Marsha Koch, president of AAUW of Missouri, the op-ed called on Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Kit Bond (R-MO) to co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help to create a climate in which pay discrimination is not tolerated.

Having Ledbetter for the entire convention gave us all a lift.

Christy Jones and Lilly Ledbetter

My colleague Christy Jones, AAUW’s director of membership, said, ‘She is the Lilly Ledbetter that you read about. I love it that she came in and had a box lunch with us. I love that she said, ‘How can I help your members get the word out?’ She knows our members can and will make a difference in getting the Paycheck Fairness Act passed.”

AAUW member Barbara BurgoAfter waiting in line to meet Ledbetter, Barbara Burgo, a delegate from the AAUW Taunton Area (MA) Branch, said to Lilly, “You are wonderful. I thank you.”

Later, Burgo continued her praises. “The gap will close because of her. We all have a part, but she’s the icon,” Burgo said.

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By:   |   July 08, 2009


  1. Laura Moberly says:

    Truly an incredible woman, fighting a fight for women of future generations. Her former employer is reprehensible in my opinion. Don’t buy Goodyear…that’s what I say.

  2. Carrie in KS says:

    Yes, she did such a lousy job that she worked for Goodyear for 19 years, rose to management, received merit increases and raises, only to find out at retirement that she earned $300K less than male co-workers who started working at the same time as she did.

    Unlike some others, she doesn’t have a book deal and doesn’t get paid big dollars for speaking out about what’s right. This is a grandmother on social security who just earlier this year was unable to pay her winter heating bill when her social security check went missing for several weeks. Before you go passing judgments, you might want to get the facts and not judge through Obama-biased glasses.

    Lilly Ledbetter a role model? No question in my mind.

  3. Lisa Goodnight says:

    Michelle, one day, I hope that you get to hear Lilly’s story first hand. She is a remarkable women.

    Also, I would like to point out some facts:
    1. Lilly received top awards for her work performance
    2. She spent several years of her life on a case that didn’t yield a dime for her.

  4. Michelle L. says:

    Pretty remarkable. When a woman has the charming combination of being both lousy at her job AND litigious, American stands up and cheers. This is what constitutes a role model in Obamaland?

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