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Christina Morrison

Former First Lady Barbara Bush: A tribute

Updated: Apr 17, 2024

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Former First Lady Barbara Bush served to empower women and individuals of all ages. During her husband’s time in office, Barbara Bush acted as a close advisor to her husband, worked to empower women, and worked as an activist civil rights. Bush was constantly championing for rights. She supported the Equal Rights Amendment, saying “I want equal rights for women, men, everybody.” (Barbara Bush, New York Times).  First Lady Bush was not afraid to share her views. Barbara Bush was known for her strong opinions, her courage in her beliefs, and her charisma in speaking to those who disagreed.

Bush, more than anything else, wanted women to have the right to choose. This was reflected in her stances on family life, women’s rights, and more. For instance, when asked about abortion, Bush protected a woman’s right to make her own choice saying, “Let me say again…I hate abortions, but just could not make that choice for someone else.” (Barbara Bush, CNBC) While she celebrated gender equality and supported female autonomy, she also didn’t believe that everyone had to work in an office to make a difference. Bush considered her greatest legacy to be her family: a group of hard working individuals that fought for their values. According to Bush, “some of them are even hard working mothers.” (Barbara Bush, USA Today)

Barbara Bush also used her influence to improve literacy in America. She held that “The American Dream is about equal opportunity for everyone who works hard…If we don’t give everyone the ability to simply read and write, then we aren’t giving everyone an equal chance to succeed.” (Barbara Bush, CNBC). In her time as first lady, she attended over 500 events related to literacy. She made it her goal in office to be the candid first lady that encouraged growth and development in all aspects.

Bush appeared at signings, public events, graduation speeches and more. One of her more famous speeches was a commencement speech at Wellesley College. Her presence at the ceremony was protested by feminists and non-feminists alike. But with grace and poise, First Lady Bush took the heat and delivered a speech that left many in awe. In her speech she shared her family values, compassion, and love for society saying, “you are a human being first and those human connections — with spouses, with children, with friends — are the most important investments you will ever make.” (Barbara Bush, Washington Post) She ended her speech with “And who knows? Somewhere out in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps, and preside over the White House as the president’s spouse and I wish him well. ” (Barbara Bush, Washington Post)

Above all else Barbara Bush prided herself on her character in office. She wrote, “I want to be known as a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. That’s what I am. And I’d like to be known as someone who really cared about people and worked very, very hard to make America more literate” (Bush, New York Times). And that she did. In her passing Barbara Bush is known as a woman of grace and poise who was successful in her goal of making the world a more literate and much better place.

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