Friday, November 13, 2020

Friday Feature: First Professor

My husband and daughter are the history buffs at my house. As for me, I like my history with a side of personality. When we were in Boston several summers ago, I was the one who insisted that we take the guided tour -- the one with the tour guide dressed in colonial garb -- and I enjoyed every minute of it. The tour guide's personality and storytelling won me over, along with the way he breathed life into people I'd only read about in the pages of high school textbooks.

Lately, my daughter and I have been watching CNN's series, First Ladies. I was drawn in by the first episode (about Michelle Obama), but have watched every one since and look forward to new episodes. Until I read Michelle Obama's book, Becoming, I never gave much thought to the role of First Lady. Now, I'm fascinated by it.

I'm particularly fascinated by our incoming First Lady in the perhaps same "like me" way that women and girls (particularly women and girls of color) are fascinated -- and encouraged -- by Kamala Harris's ascent to the role of Vice President Elect. Like me, Jill Biden is an educator, a role she plans to continue even after her husband is inaugurated. I can identify with the stories of her grading papers in this office or that corner of Air Force Two and, after four years of Betsy DeVos, am thrilled that an informed public education advocate will have at the ear of the President.

We are living in unprecedented times and, in some ways, that's a bad thing. But, as I sit back and prepare to watch a female Vice President and a new First Lady shape their new roles, I'm optimistic about what this reshaping can mean not only to the nation, but to the women and young girls who are watching. It won't be the first time a First Lady has left her mark on the office, but it will be the first time a First Professor (to use Politico's title moniker) has brought issues so near to my heart to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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