Bold and Brave

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Maira Kalman
Alfred A. Knopf Publishers, New York
November 2018,

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, introduces her great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother as strong, feisty women. Her introduction segues into the lives of 10 women whose work for women’s voting rights inspired her family. These biographies have an accessible and enjoyable format: Each clearly points out the woman’s contributions to the suffrage movement and includes both a few facts about her life and a short quotation.

Maira Kalman’s brilliantly conceived, colorful and captivating art carries the day, as does the wise inclusion of humor. Women best known for suffrage work—Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton—are interspersed with women better known for other accomplishments, such as Harriet Tubman and Ida B. Wells, and with lesser-known but equally impressive activists, such as Chicano educator Jovita Idár. Several times the text mentions the racism experienced by suffragists of color. The stories build up to the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 and then, in a stroke of genius, shifts to the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

“Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” Inez Milholland’s 100-year-old question lingers.

Copyright 2020