Hey, Americans! This Woman Changed Your Life

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Happy Birthday, Jane Addams!  Here are just a few of the reasons why we are celebrating today:

Jane lived HER life.  At a time when women were expected to get married and have children, she did neither.  Not because she was against those things as a general rule, but because they were not right for her.  It’s hard to go against the grain!

She also used her voice to make America better for all of us.

She protested American sweatshops, standing up against factory owners, politicians, and even parents who didn’t want to give up the income from their kids.  Her protests directly lead to laws that protected children and workers.

She helped found the American juvenile justice system.

She helped found the NAACP.

She was a founding member of the ACLU.

I remember first learning about Jane Addams back in college, where we talked about her role in Suffrage.  At the time we touched on her very briefly as a leader in the effort to get women the vote.

Today, revisiting her life with my kids, I see that she was so much more than just a “Feminist” or “Suffragist”.  Defining her by those terms really doesn’t do her justice.

She was the best kind of American, working within the system to make it better and affecting real change.  Of course, she believed that people (particularly women) should make their voices heard in legislation and thus, should have the right to vote, but, more comprehensively, she thought that people should generate aspirations and search out opportunities to realize them.  Not only did she think that and talk about it, but she did it.  Many times over.

That’s what I want for my kids.  Heck, it’s what I want for me!  To seek out and take advantage of every opportunity life has to offer.  And to give back when they can.   Thank you, Jane Addams, for giving us one awesome example how to live a life worth living.

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