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To All Future Ruth Bader Ginsburgs

Eight-year-old Michele Threefoot is like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but smaller. If you haven’t already heard, the story about Threefoot, the girl who dressed up like Ruth Bader Ginsburg during Spirit Week on Superhero Day at her school, has been making headlines. Threefoot’s mother wrote on Facebook that Michele had been reading RBG’s picture-book styled biography, I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, which nods to the gender-driven discrimination that RBG faced and fought throughout her lifetime. Threefoot, inspired by Ginsburg’s intellectual strength and capacity to bring about change, felt that there was no other hero she’d rather be. The new addition to the story only makes it better: Ginsburg hand-wrote and sent out her response to Threefoot’s costume.

In RBG’s note, she complimented Threefoot’s likeness and wished her the best in her pursuit of knowledge. It reads, “Dear Michele: You look just like me! May you continue to thrive on reading and learning. Every good wish, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”

The note left Threefoot ecstatic. She was so moved by it that she brought a copy of the note to school with her the next day to show her math teacher. The teacher decided to read the note aloud to the entire class and take time out of the normal scheduled classwork to teach about the Supreme Court. After that, other students in her class decided that they wanted to dress up like “real-life” superheroes in future Spirit Weeks. If RBG was on a mission to influence the next generation of movers and shakers, then mission accomplished.

Ginsburg also included a quote about the power of reading, which went, “Reading is the key that opens doors to many things in life. Reading shaped my dreams, and more reading helped my dreams come true.” No quote better sums up RBG’s experience. Growing up, Ginsburg heard her mother’s stories about how she thrived in school and graduated from high school at age 15, yet could not continue on to college because her parents had decided to send her brother to college instead. Moreover, RBG saw plenty of gender-driven prejudice in her own academic pursuits. As 1 of 9 women in Harvard Law School’s class of 500 students, the dean asked her, “How do you justify taking a spot from a qualified man?” Similarly, while working for a local social security office, she was demoted after notifying her superior about her pregnancy.

In spite of every obstacle, Ginsburg was the first female member of the Harvard Law Review, and after she transferred to Columbia Law School, she was the first female member of the Columbia Law Review. Ginsburg taught at both Rutgers University Law School and Columbia Law School, becoming the first female tenured professor at the latter. Perhaps her best-known accomplishment, she became the second female justice ever appointed to the Supreme Court. Ever since, she has been fighting for gender-blind law. She was able to do it all because of her dedication to her education and kindling her knowledge in general.

Ginsburg’s message to Threefoot rings true, and the fact that it’s prompting kids to get more involved with reading, pursuing knowledge, and ultimately dreaming of a brighter future is inspiring.

Featured Image by European University Institute on Flickr

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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