Photo Credit: Bill Oxford via Unsplash
When I heard US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) passed away last week, I immediately punched her name into Google, as I previously knew very little about this crusader for gender equality and Supreme Court icon.
I was shocked by what I found and even more shocked that myself, a history major, along with many of my peers, only learned about the massive feats of RBG after her passing.
For those who don’t know, RBG was a trailblazer in every sense of the word.
Ginsburg wrote notable majority opinions that changed the course of American history. She was a part of many US Supreme Court cases that aided in the fight for a better, fairer and brighter America. From when she struck down the long-standing male-only admission policy of the Virginia Military Institute to when she advocated for people with mental disabilities in the Olmstead v. L.C. case, RBG was a powerhouse.
RBG fought courageously for women, for people with disabilities and for Indigenous Peoples throughout her long and accomplished career on the bench. RBG was a valiant fighter and a force to be reckoned with.
My news feed has been flooded with RBG’s accomplishments over the last week. As intrigued as I was to hear more about her impact on millions of lives, I was sad to only become aware of RBG now.
Why haven’t I ever heard of her in my contemporary history classes? Why hasn’t her name been at the forefront of my education on women’s rights? Why wasn’t she one of my role models until now?
All of these questions ran through my mind as I continued to look into RBG’s life. Unfortunately, I have no answers. There is no logical reason why RBG only came onto my radar after social media was flooded with condolences.
This was a wake up call for me; to start doing my own research on the histories I am interested in and establish my own role models, even if they are left out of my classes.
RBG’s accomplishments are nothing short of incredible and her mission was nothing short of noble.
As a humanities student, it is easy to research a controversial president or a political figure that made headline after headline in their prime.
However, it is more difficult to research those who were changing history behind the scenes like in the Marble Palace. The passing of RBG is an opportunity for us to look into the heroes that may not be on the front of our history textbooks.
It is not only more difficult but also more worthwhile to dive into the world of lesser-known figures that impacted our world. It is time to look closer at the heroes that were doubted in their time and who proved naysayers wrong with their success.
Now is the time to reflect on and appreciate the work of RBG and it is also the time to ask yourself who your role models are. We often take progress for granted, it is easy to do, but it is worthwhile to reflect and research the road it took to get to this point in history.