Labor Day 2021—to Buy or to Boycott?

Another Labor Day has rolled around. The online world is filled with enticing invitations to buy clothes, cars, electronics and whatever else might catch your eye. It’s hard to remember that Labor Day was originally meant to honor the workers who made all the stuff that’s now for sale. Instead the day has become just part of a long holiday weekend to mark the end of summer and the beginning of the school year.

But 56 years ago, on September 8, 1965, an important movement that would change agricultural workers’ lives forever, was started in California—the Delano Grape Strike. At that time, most agricultural workers in California were either Filipino or Hispanic immigrants. Their wages were below the federal minimum wage of $1.20 an hour and working conditions were abysmal. Hours were long and there were no required breaks. Often water was unavailable despite the heat; housing was inadequate with many workers forced to sleep in barren shacks without beds or toilet facilities.

A group of Filipino workers were the first to revolt and demand better conditions. Soon they joined with Hispanic leaders. The two groups worked together to begin one of the biggest and most effective labor movements in the United States. This led eventually to the founding of the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW) and grew into one of America’s most important labor unions.  

Labor Day is a good time to remember some of the people who made that change possible. And to remember that change occurred only because of shoppers across the country who were willing to boycott California grapes.

The two co-founders of the National Farm Workers Association were Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. Today I would like to pay tribute to Dolores Huerta, who is still alive at the age of 91 and still continues her work.

Huerta was born in New Mexico in 1930 and grew up mostly in Stockton, California. During her high school years, she felt discriminated against by teachers because of her Hispanic background. After she went to college and became a teacher, she noticed that many children in her class were suffering from hunger and poverty. She decided that activism was more important than teaching, so she co-founded  Stockton’s Community Service Organization

It was through her work as an activist that Huerta met Cesar Chavez and began working with him. She worked with him to organize the 1965 Delano strike of 5,000 grape workers. When the strike finally ended after five long years, she was the lead negotiator as the workers’ contract was finally written and signed. 

Dolores Huerta

In 1973, Huerta led another consumer boycott of grapes that resulted in the ground-breaking California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, which allowed farm workers to form unions and bargain for better wages and conditions. This change revolutionized the lives of farm workers in California and other states.

Labor organizing is not easy work and in 1988, Huerta was badly beaten by police during a peaceful demonstration in San Francisco. Nonetheless, her activism continued. In 2002 she founded the Dolores Huerta Foundation which has continued the work to which she has devoted her life. The list of honors she has received is too long to include here, but you can find them in the Wikipedia article about her life.

Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez, and the other activists who fought to make life better for workers would not have succeeded without the support of everyday shoppers who refused to buy grapes during the strike. Enough people supported the effort to ensure that change happened. That’s something to remember as we move into another Labor Day. Perhaps as we browse through the enticing ads for ways to spend money, we should give some thought to the workers who produce those products. Ethical shopping—supporting the fair treatment of workers around the world is well worth considering. Boycotts work. They have made life better for many workers. Think before you click that “buy” button.  

Leaving Afghanistan—one more time

For the past week American TV screens have been crowded with views of people trying to leave Afghanistan.  Crowds scramble to board the departing planes at the Kabul Airport. The pictures are harrowing. The panic of terrified people fleeing from the incoming Taliban fighters can be felt by viewers thousands of miles away.

This isn’t the first time that foreigners have been ousted from the rugged mountains of Afghanistan. Almost two hundred years ago the British invaded the country. They too were chased out, and the ordeal of their leaving was recorded by a brave British Army wife, Florentia Sale. Last year I wrote an account of her ordeal in this blog. Perhaps we can learn something about the folly of foreign wars by revisiting her experience.

As wise men have reminded us ‘Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.’

Maria Montessori–a Teacher for the World

During these waning weeks of summer, thousands of children are returning to school. Many parents struggle with questions about how the distance learning experience of last year has affected them. Will the re-entry into school go well? This is a good time to remember the words of Maria Montessori who wrote: One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child.

Who was Maria Montessori? She was a woman who influenced early education throughout the world. But her path to education and to becoming the founder of a worldwide network of schools was an unexpected one.

Doctor Maria Montessori

Born in 1870 in Chiaravalle, Italy, Montessori entered a technical school as a teenager, intending to become an engineer. After graduating from that program, she decided that she would prefer to be a physician and entered medical school in Rome. Both of these careers were unlikely choices for a woman in Italy at that time, but Montessori never seemed to consider the more usual female path of giving up her career to become a wife and mother.

Medical school was difficult for her because she was a woman and was therefore not allowed to view a naked body in the same room as male students. She had to do her studies in the laboratory by herself after other students had left. During medical school, Montessori specialized in the treatment of children with physical and mental disabilities that made it difficult for them to benefit from conventional education. After she completed her degree, she continued to work with these children and to study treatments available.

Maria Montessori’s only child, a son, was born two years after she graduated from medical school. If she and her partner had married, she would have had to resign from her professional work, so the two of them agreed to remain unmarried but to be faithful to each other. Unfortunately, her partner was pressured into marriage by his family, so Montessori was left with the full responsibility of raising their son. She was forced to allow the child to be raised by other people and was not in contact with him until he became an adolescent. In later life he worked with her in setting up her schools and promoting her educational ideas.

As Montessori studied children and how they learned, she came to realize that methods devised to teach children with mental disabilities would be beneficial to all children. She devised teaching materials and set up learning environments so that children could work on their own and learn from one another. Montessori also continued lecturing and writing and her work became well-known in Europe and beyond. Many of her suggestions are couched as “rules” for adults working with children:

Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.

The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.

Although not many children across the world attend Montessori schools, the ideas and practices that Maria Montessori pioneered have affected education for many of us.

Frances Trollope—a Troublesome Visitor

We often hear stories of immigrants who came to America hoping to find a country superior to the one they left. Many settled in the new land and became enthusiastic American patriots. Some histories, however, tell the stories of immigrants who came for practical reasons and some who discovered that America did not live up to their expectations. Frances Trollope was one of these disillusioned immigrants. She came, observed, and then went back home. Worse than that, she wrote about her experiences in a book that outraged many Americans.

Frances Trollope, born Frances Milton in 1779, was a well-educated Englishwoman, daughter of a minister, wife of a barrister, and the mother of five young children. Her husband was not a wealthy man, and when Frances heard about a new idealistic community being set up in America, she decided that she could educate her sons inexpensively there and live a comfortable life. In 1827, she packed up several of her children and headed off for the new country. The plan was for her husband to follow later with their younger children.

Frances Trollope

Trollope’s idea had grown out of her friendship with Fanny Wright, a radical reformer who planned to build a new settlement in Tennessee where enslaved Americans could earn money to buy their freedom. The hope was that slavery would disappear and that slaveowners would not suffer any great loss of income.

When Frances Trollope arrived in America, she had learned enough about slavery to be a strong abolitionist. What she did not know, however, was that she would be surprised and shocked by the everyday habits of many Americans. She observed, took notes, and later wrote about what she had seen. Several years later, she published her first book: Domestic Manners of the Americans, which became both a best seller and one of the most hated books of the time. Her comments on the dining habits of the men she met on a river boat journey were often quoted by both friends and critics:

…the voracious rapidity with which the viands were seized and devoured …the loathsome spitting, from the contamination of which it was absolutely impossible to protect our dresses; the frightful manner of feeding with their knives, till the whole blade seemed to enter into the mouth; and the still more frightful manner of cleaning the teeth afterwards with a pocket knife…

None of Trollope’s plans for life in America worked out as she had hoped. Fanny Wright’s community in Nashoba, Tennessee, was a failure and Trollope was not able to settle there with her family. She took her sons to Cincinnati, Ohio and tried to earn a living by writing and lecturing but was not successful. She was not sympathetic to the American culture and offended many people by noting the discrepancies between American ideals and the behavior she observed.  

In 1831, Trollope moved back to England and lived the rest of her life in Europe. She traveled around the continent and wrote travel books about Belgium, France, and Germany. She also began writing novels and by the time she died in 1863, had published 100 books.  Her books were very popular, and during her lifetime she was considered one of the outstanding novelists of the 19th century. Modern critics, however, have been critical of her work, and most of her books have become unavailable except in specialized collections.

Two of Frances Trollope’s sons became writers. Thomas Adolphus Trollope was a well-known historian and respected in his time, but Anthony Trollope, the younger son, outshone him. He was the author of several series of books that have been turned into BBC drama series. His Barchester Chronicles and The Pallisers have made him the most famous Trollope of them all.

Lydia Maria Child—A Lifelong Fighter for Justice

When Europeans arrived in North America during the 1600s, many of them were surprised to find that people were already living in this “new land”. Nonetheless, the Europeans believed they had the right to take over the continent. Several centuries later, Americans are still struggling to undo long established injustices. After President Biden was elected in 2000, he appointed the first person of Native American ancestry to his Cabinet as Secretary of the Interior—Deb Haaland. The rights of Indian tribes have been recognized as an important value. But it took many arguments over hundreds of years to start ensuring justice for Native Americans. 

One of the earliest and most persistent fighters for fair treatment of Native Americans was the novelist and activist Lydia Maria Child. During her long life she fought for social equality for all races and sexes while at the same time carrying on her career as one of the most popular writers of the 19th century. Unlike many of the more famous suffragists, she was not willing to place the importance of women’s rights above the importance of justice for enslaved people and Native Americans.

Lydia Maria Child

Child was born in Massachusetts in 1802 into a family of strict Calvinists. As a girl, she did not receive much formal education, but her brother, Convers Francis, shared his books with her and encouraged her studies. After her mother’s death, Child lived for a time with her brother’s family and was introduced to many of his friends from Harvard. With his encouragement she wrote her first novel, Hobomok: a tale of Early Times, in 1824 and its success started her on a lifelong career as a writer.

Hobomok was widely acclaimed and brought a level of fame to the young author. She was even given a free ticket to use the Boston Atheneum, a valuable library from which women were usually barred. But Child was not content to support only popular causes. Ten years later, when she published an abolitionist pamphlet, “Appeal in Favor of that Class of Americans called Africans” the ticket to the Atheneum was snatched away from her and her books were removed from the library. Despite this rejection, Child continued to support the three causes that were most important to her—Indian rights, Abolition, and Women’s Suffrage. Throughout her life, she never wavered in her loyalty to her causes.

After her marriage in 1828, Child continued to write, and her works were popular. Her practical domestic guide, The American Frugal Housewife, was one of the most successful books of the 19th century. Her husband, David Child, was an activist and public speaker, but he was never able to support himself and his wife. He developed many commercial ideas and borrowed money to carry out projects that rarely succeeded. His wife was responsible for earning enough money to support the couple, but she was not allowed to make decisions about spending it. Her husband could invest her money in any way he wished. Even when she wrote her will, she found that she was forbidden to distribute her money or the property her father had left her unless her husband signed the will. This must have made her more aware than many other women of the need for women’s rights to include the right to own property as well as to vote. Nonetheless, despite some short-lived separations, the couple continued to maintain their marriage.  

Lydia Maria Child lived until 1880 and during all those years of life she continued her tireless support of the important social reforms of the time. It seems ironic that such a tough, committed fighter should be remembered, if she remembered at all, by a sentimental children’s poem she wrote. It is the traditional Thanksgiving poem “Over the river and through the trees, to Grandmother’s House we go…”

To learn more about this tireless fighter for human rights, you can read the excellent biography The First Woman in the Republic by Caroline Karcher (1994).

Julia Ward Howe and her Ever-Changing Battle Hymn

Last weekend’s Fourth of July celebrations included many musical tributes to the United States and its history. One of the most familiar of these is the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, a popular and honored patriotic song, but one that has had a long and contentious history. Most Americans will recognize these lyrics:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored
He has loosed the fateful lightening of his terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on

Glory, Glory halleluhja
Glory, Glory halleluhja
Glory, Glory halleluhja
His truth is marching on

The author of these lyrics, the version that we usually hear at concerts, in schools and other public occasions, was Julia Ward Howe, one of the most notable poets of the 19th century. She was also an activist for the abolition of slavery and for women’s rights. Her inspiration to write these verses came during a visit to Washington DC in 1861, at the beginning of the Civil War. From her hotel window she heard Union soldiers singing a popular wartime song:

John Brown’s body lies a-moldering in the grave
John Brown’s body lies a-moldering in the grave
John Brown’s body lies a-moldering in the grave
But his soul goes marching on
.

John Brown, of course, was the insurrectionist who had attacked federal property at Harper’s Ferry in 1859 hoping to lead a revolution that would end slavery. He failed in his mission and was executed, but he remained a hero to abolitionists and to Union soldiers during the Civil War. Julia Ward Howe wrote her new lyrics to make the song a more unifying and uplifting tribute to justice and freedom for the entire country to sing. Her version appeared in the Atlantic magazine and made her famous.  

Howe’s lyrics for the song are the ones are still the most famous ones, but her version is only one of many variations. In 1915, half a century after the Civil War had ended, and five years after Julia Ward Howe’s death, a different set of lyrics were written for the familiar tune by Ralph Chaplin, a labor activist.  His song was composed for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), also known as the Wobblies. It soon became an anthem for a number of labor unions under the title “Solidarity Forever”.

It is we who plowed the prairies; built the cities where they trade;
Dug the mines and built the workshops, endless miles of railroad laid;
Now we stand outcast and starving midst the wonders we have made;
But the union makes us strong.

Solidarity forever,
Solidarity forever,
Solidarity forever,
For the union makes us strong.

We don’t know what Julia Howe thought of radical labor unions like the IWW, but she probably would have enjoyed knowing that the tune she made famous has indeed gone marching on.

AN UNUSUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU THIS MONTH:

One of the women who inspired Julia Ward Howe in her career was Margaret Fuller, the most famous female journalist and author in early 19th century America. The ebook version of my biography Margaret Fuller an Uncommon Woman is now on a special summer sale at Smashwords.com. The price is right—it is free! Just click on the website and order your copy. The sale ends on July 31. (If you prefer a print version of the book, you can find it at Amazon.com)

Adelaide Crapsey—Scholar and Poet

Some poems seem to be spontaneous outbursts of feeling—“My heart is like a singing bird…” (Christina Rossetti) or “Fear no more the heat o’ the sun/Nor the furious winter’s rages:” (Shakespeare). But poetry is not easy. Most of the poetry that we continue to read and to love is the result of many long hours of careful work.

One of the scholars who spent years studying metrics—the way words can be put together to achieve art—was a young American poet named Adelaide Crapsey. Although she died young and her work is often forgotten, she was an important writer of the early twentieth century. Her work continues to influence many poets today.

Adelaide Crapsey

Born in Brooklyn in 1878, Adelaide Crapsey and her family soon moved to Rochester, N.Y. where her father was pastor of an Episcopal Church. She was raised in a family that valued women’s education and Adelaide was encouraged to attend Vassar College. There she had a happy and successful educational life. She was president of the Poetry Club and graduated as valedictorian in 1897.

Two of Adelaide’s sisters died while she was in college, and Adelaide herself became sick with a severe illness that was later diagnosed as tuberculosis. After recovering and spending some time teaching, she went to Europe in 1904 to study at the American Academy in Rome. Although she was very happy in Rome, family problems prompted her return to the United States in 1905. Her father was accused of heresy by the leaders of the Episcopal Diocese, and he was brought to trial in 1906. He was found guilty of refusing to support the doctrine of virgin birth and lost his position with the Church after an unsuccessful appeal. He and his family had to leave the rectory.

Despite her desire to return to Europe, Adelaide chose to stay close to her family to offer support and encouragement. She taught at a private school and also continued to work on her scholarship and writing. Eventually she was able to return to Europe for a few months and while she was there she completed her book,  A Study in English Metrics, although it was not published until after her death. She returned to America when her tuberculosis became more severe and died in 1914 at the age of 36.

Adelaide’s study of metrics led her to investigate various poetic forms such as the Japanese haiku and tanka. She invented a new form of poetry called the cinquain and much of the poetry for which she is remembered uses this form. One example is this well-known piece:

November Night

Listen…
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
And fall.

Although Adelaide Crapsey’s poems are no longer included in many anthologies, you can find a good sample of her work at the website of the Poetry Foundation. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/adelaide-crapsey

Another legacy of Adelaide Crapsey’s life is the effect her poetry has had on the teaching of poetry to school children. A simplified version of the cinquain has been introduced in many classrooms, for example:

Cinquain: (This is the format used in many schools—didactic cinquain)

  1. One word (subject)
  2. Two words
  3. Three words
  4. Four words
  5. One word (synonym for line 1 or five words to sum up the poem)

Many students, both children and adults, enjoy following this pattern and producing verses that can be satisfying both to write and to read.

Summer Beach

Ocean

Creeping waves

Tickling children’s toes,

Hurling broken shells against bare legs,

Triumph.

Adelaide Crapsey’s early death deprived the world of a notable poet, but it is some comfort to know that her work is still inspiring other writers.

Gwendolyn Brooks—A Poet for Our Times

African American women have been writing and publishing poetry since colonial times but have not always been known and acknowledged. One of our earliest poets published in the United States was Phillis Wheatley. One of the best known, and most often studied African American women poets of the 20th century has been Gwendolyn Brooks whose birthday is celebrated this month.

Gwendolyn Brooks

Born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1917, Gwendolyn moved with her family to Chicago before she was a year old, and her work and success are closely identified with that Midwestern city. From early childhood, Brooks had few doubts about her career. Her first poem was published in a children’s magazine, American Childhood,  when she was thirteen years old. She continued to write and publish poems until she died at the age of 83 in 2000.

After graduating from a community college in Chicago, she worked for the NAACP (National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and continued to publish poems eventually appearing in the prestigious Poetry magazine. She was invited to join a poetry workshop where she met several other important African American poets including Langston Hughes who became a lifelong friend. She married Henry Lowington Blakely, Jr. in 1931 and the couple had two children. And year after year she continued to write poetry, which met with continuing success.

Her first book of poetry, A Street in Bronzeville was published in 1945. Her poems were admired by critics, and they were also read and cherished by a large popular audience. Brooks was able to write about the people of Bronzeville with warmth and an acknowledgement of the struggles of their lives.  In her poem “Kitchenette Building”, for example, she wrote of the difficulty of dreaming big dreams in a stunted environment:

But could a dream send up through onion fumes

Its white and violet, fight with fried potatoes

And yesterday’s garbage ripening in the hall,

Flutter, or sing an aria down these rooms.

The list of Gwendolyn Brookes achievements is a long one: She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1950, the first African American to be so honored. She added many other prizes too. In 1986 she became the Poet Laureate of Illinois. She also served as a consultant to poetry in the Library of Congress and was the first African American woman inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Now, almost 25 years after her death, she is still honored and, more important, still read. You can read many of her poems on the Poetry Foundation website. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/gwendolyn-brooks, and her books are available in almost all public libraries.

Fanny Wright and Her Impossible Dream

2021 has been one of the most divisive years Americans have endured. But if we look back at history, this is by no means the worst we’ve seen. The early years of the 19th century found Americans bitterly divided over the institution of slavery, the power of the federal government, and the importance of religion. Some people wanted nothing to change, but many others were determined to change society in a way that would eliminate slavery and ensure justice for everyone. The question was—how could that be done?

One of the most ambitions dreamers of a new, more just America was a young immigrant named Fanny Wright. Born into a wealthy family in Dundee, Scotland, in 1795, Fanny Wright was orphaned as a young child. She was raised mostly by an aunt of her mother’s and an uncle who was a professor of philosophy in Scotland. In the university library, she read every book she could find and soon began writing poetry and plays. When she read about America and how it was dedicated to a just and fair society for all, she determined to visit the country.

Fannny Wright

At the age of 23, she was able to fulfill her plan and sailed to America with her sister. She was delighted by the freedom of American society, but shocked when she discovered the realities of slavery. In the book she wrote about her travels she said, “The sight of slavery is revolting every where, but to inhale the impure breath of its pestilence in the free winds of America is odious beyond all that the imagination can conceive.”

After her book was published in Great Britain, many important people admired it and wanted to meet the young author. One of her most congenial new friends was the Marquis de Lafayette. In fact, they became such close friends that she moved into Lafayette’s house for a while and was rumored to be his lover. Whether that was true or not, when Lafayette was invited to return to the United States in 1826 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the United States, Fanny and her sister followed in his footsteps.

On her second visit to the country, Fanny was even more troubled by the continued existence of slavery and the failure of Americans to confront the issue and find a way to end it. One popular idea in the 1820s and 1830s was that slaves should be freed and then transported out of the country. Very few people liked the idea of having free Blacks live in the same areas in which they had been enslaved. Two popular destinations for these people were Liberia, in Africa, and Haiti, the Caribbean Island that had won independence from France in 1804 and had abolished slavery.

Fanny Wright conceived an ambitious plan to demonstrate how slavery could be abolished in the United States without slaveowners losing the money they had invested. She proposed starting a farming colony where slaves could buy their freedom through the products they raised and sold. Unfortunately, the location she found was Nashoba, Tennessee, a swampy, isolated area that did not offer good soil for farming. It was also far from the markets where produce could be sold  and there were no roads. Fanny Wright had never farmed, and she apparently did not consult anyone who could give her practical guidance.

The bad start soon grew worse. Fanny had hoped to form a utopian community, but the Black residents were still slaves and were not given any responsibility for running the organization. Instead, Fanny recruited white men and women who wanted to form an ideal society, although they did not know much about how to farm or to run a business. Nonetheless, the trustees made all the decisions, while the slaves that Fanny had purchased, did the practical farm work.

When Fanny got sick, probably with malaria, and she left the colony under the supervision of the white trustees while she traveled to Europe to find treatment. When she returned to the farm a year later, she found that nothing had gone well. The farm was failing, most of the trustees had left, and the man who was left in charge treated the slaves just about as badly as they had been treated by their old masters.

When Fanny published a paper to justify her plans, she got herself into more trouble. For one thing, she suggested that the free Blacks could intermarry with white citizen and the differences between the races would disappear. She also revealed that she was an atheist and did not believe religious services would help the community. Both of those beliefs caused Wright to lose the support she had enjoyed earlier. Many people could hardly decide which was worse—believing in inter-racial marriage or being an atheist.

That was the end of the Nashoba colony. Fanny was able to purchase freedom for the eight slaves she had brought there and eventually to send them to Haiti, but the community never recovered. And the failure of Nashoba led to the end of Fanny’s dream of freeing all the slaves in America.

Fanny Wright spent the rest of her life traveling between Europe and America, lecturing on rights for women and sometimes on the abolition of slavery, but her reputation was damaged beyond repair. She died in 1852, years before the Civil War had finally led to the abolition of slavery in the United States.  

Happy Birthday to an Immigrant Child—Madeleine Albright

Today, when immigration has become a contentious topic for many Americans, is a good day to honor one of the many immigrants who have used their knowledge and talents to improve American life. Today Madeleine Albright, who has served the country in many ways for almost half a century is celebrating her birthday.

Madeleine Albright was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, on May 15, 1937. She spent her early years in Prague, and during World War II, in exile in London. Her father was a diplomat who moved the family to the United States in 1948 after the communists took over Czechoslovakia. In 1957, Madeleine became a U.S. citizen.

Madeleine Albright

As the daughter of prosperous and well-educated parents, Madeleine Albright had an easier path to education than many other immigrant children, but it was her own hard work that led her to earn a degree from Wellesley College and a PhD from Columbia University. She married, raised three daughters, and worked as a fund raiser. After her family moved to Washington D.C., she became an advisor to Senator Edmund Muskie as well as other Democratic office holders and she also taught at Georgetown University.     

When Bill Clinton was elected President, he appointed her to the position of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Later she became the first woman to serve as Secretary of State. She was known for her keen insight into foreign affairs and her ability to negotiate with world leaders. News media paid special attention to the signals she sent by her choice of jewelry. Reporters wrote stories not only about what she said, but about what she wore, because she often signaled her message by her choice of pins.

Examples of Madeleine Albright’s Collection of Pins

Her jewelry became so famous that after leaving office at the end of the Clinton Administration, Albright organized an exhibit of her collection of pins and published a book entitled Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box.

In the years since leaving office, Albright has held a variety of posts and worked for several nonprofit organizations. She has also written a series of memoirs chronicling her life from her childhood in Europe through her work on the world stage. Her most recent memoir, Hell and Other Destinations; A 21st Century Memoir was published in 2020. Madeleine Albright is a woman well worth knowing and we are lucky to be able to read her lively accounts of life both inside and outside of government service.

Happy Birthday, Madam Secretary!