Clinton's Victory - On Being the First / by marilyn salenger

Late in the evening of June 6, 2016, the Associated Press announced that Hillary Clinton had secured the delegate count necessary to become the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. The news came as I was ending dinner with a childhood friend I hadn't seen in over fifty years.  She and I stood on the street outside the restaurant reading the news on our phones. We each looked at one another, said nothing for a moment, and then said "Finally". For women of our generation - Hillary Clinton's generation - it's significance is powerful.  The strength of her pure achievement as a woman in this country is never to be underestimated. She is now officially the first.

Clinton cinched the nomination in a low key manner, as a few more delegates moved to her side and the word began to spread. No balloons or confetti. That will come later. No big speech. She did that last week. And voters are still voting before the primary season ends. But we know she's the one.

Her nomination will come thirty-two years after New York Representative Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman named a Vice Presidential candidate by Walter Mondale. On July 12, 1984 Mondale made history and did what many thought was a gutsy, though smart, political move. Thirty-two years is not yesterday, but that's how long it's taken for another strong woman to make her mark at the highest level in our land.

Being the first is not easy. In case anyone hasn't noticed, many men don't like having a woman work her way to the top. I speak from first hand experience in a field formally removed from politics, but certainly filled with them.  Ten days out of college in 1966, I became the first woman hired by the CBS television station in Cincinnati, Ohio. They didn't quite know what to do with me, but I knew what I wanted to do. Become a television newswoman, even though it was considered a man's profession. In the early '70's, I created the first all woman's newscast in the country, became the first Boston newswoman to cover national political conventions and the first to solo anchor a newscast. Many more firsts later, I became the first woman to hold the position of press secretary for a national presidential campaign (Senator Alan Cranston). Being the first takes fearless determination. 

Like many women who worked the tides of change at the same time as Hillary Rodham Clinton, I know what it's like to break barriers. It's hard. You make mistakes. Not everyone likes you. But all along we worked with dogged perseverance to win a place at tables of our choice. Hillary has won her place.

Whether Hillary Clinton is your choice of candidate or not, her professional victory has forever marked her place in history.  Unless there is a first, there can't be a second, or a third or a fourth. Congratulations Hillary.