Women's History Month: Geraldine Ferraro made history as candidate for Vice President

Sandra Bookman Image
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
New Yorker elected to Congress made history as candidate for Vice President
Sandra Bookman takes a look back at the life and contributions of Geraldine Ferraro.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- As we continue to honor iconic women in celebration of Women's History Month, we want to look back at the life and contributions of Geraldine Ferraro, a New Yorker who was elected to Congress and later made history when she ran for Vice President of the United States.

"My name is Geraldine Ferraro," she said in 1984. "I stand before you to proclaim tonight America is the land where dreams can come true for all of us."

Up until that moment, it was unheard of for a woman to stand before the country to accept the Democratic nomination for Vice President.

"This candidacy is not just a symbol, it's a breakthrough," she said. "It's not just a statement, it's a bond between women all over America."

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Debbie Walsh is director of the Center for American Women and Politics, a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.

"When (Ferraro) took to the stage, and it was quite electrifying, and she inspired women around the country," she said. "Fathers were taking their daughters to go see her at rallies."

Presidential nominee Walter Mondale and Ferraro lost by a landslide to Ronald Reagan, but still, she made her mark in history.

From representing New York City's 9th Congressional District to her bid for Vice President, Ferraro paved the way for other female politicians.

Decades later, we saw Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin stand on the biggest political stages in our country, and most recently, Kamala Harris made history of her own as Vice President.

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Ferraro served in Congress from 1979 to 1985, until she retired to run for Vice President, but her journey in politics started much earlier.

In 1974, she was appointed assistant district attorney in Queens and led the special victims bureau at a time when women prosecutors in the city were uncommon and were not paid as much as their male colleagues.

"At that time for Gerri Ferraro, to say it was outside the box is an understatement," Walsh said.

Her mentor, then New York Secretary of State Mario Cuomo, suggested she run for Congress. That kicked off her history in politics.

Ferarro also served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights from 1993 to 1996.

She died in Boston in 2011 at the age of 75.

"Being the candidate for vice president of my party is the greatest honor I have ever had," she once said.

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