Ceiling Breakers and History Makers: The Legacy of Jewish Women and Justice
Presented in partnership with the Baltimore Festival of Jewish Literature.
Recorded on March 10, 2021.
- You can read more about the presentation with Joy Ladin here.
- Learn more about the Ruth Bader Ginsberg family program here.
- Learn more about the upcoming Curtis Sittenfeld program here.
- You can visit Elaine’s website here.
- You can visit Debbie’s website here.
- You can visit Marlene’s website here.
Celebrate International Women’s Day with thee local authors as they discuss their work and the women that work honors. Inspired by the legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Womens History Month, join Elaine Weiss, Marlene Trestman, and Debbie Levy for a virtual conversation about women who made their passion, profession, and purpose to seek justice and repair the world.
Meet the Authors:
Debbie Levy is the award-winning and New York Times best-selling author of more than twenty-five books for young people. Her most recent releases include Becoming RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Journey to Justice (graphic novel-style biography); This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality; and a new edition of her 2010 book, The Year of Goodbyes: A True Story of Friendship, Family, and Farewells. Other books include I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark and We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song. Debbie lives in Maryland with her husband. They have two grown sons. Visit her online at www.debbielevybooks.com.
Marlene Trestman is former special assistant to the Maryland attorney general and former law instructor at Loyola University of Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business & Management. A New Orleans native, Trestman had a personal relationship with Margolin that grew from common childhood experiences.
Elaine Weiss is a Baltimore-based journalist and author, whose feature writing has been recognized with prizes from the Society of Professional Journalists, and her byline has appeared in many national publications, as well as in reports for National Public Radio. Her long-form writing garnered a Pushcart Prize “Editor’s Choice” award, and she is a proud MacDowell Colony Fellow.
Weiss’ most recent book, The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote (Viking/Penguin) has won critical acclaim from the New York Times, Wall St. Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and The New Yorker, hailed as a “riveting, nail-biting political thriller” with powerful parallels to today’s political environment. The Woman’s Hour was a GoodReads Readers’ Choice Award winner, short-listed for the 2019 Chautauqua Prize, and received the American Bar Association’s highest honor, the 2019 Silver Gavel Award.
Steven Speilberg’s Amblin production company is adapting the book for TV, with Hillary Rodham Clinton serving as Executive Producer.
About the Books:
Get to know celebrated Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—in the first picture book about her life—as she proves that disagreeing does not make you disagreeable!
Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent a lifetime disagreeing: disagreeing with inequality, arguing against unfair treatment, and standing up for what’s right for people everywhere. This biographical picture book about the Notorious RBG, tells the justice’s story through the lens of her many famous dissents, or disagreements.
The Woman’s Hour
This adaptation of the book Hillary Clinton calls “a page-turning drama and an inspiration” will spark the attention of young readers and teach them about activism, civil rights, and the fight for women’s suffrage–just in time for the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. Includes an eight-page photo insert!
American women are so close to winning the right to vote. They’ve been fighting for more than seventy years and need approval from just one more state.
But suffragists face opposition from every side, including the “Antis”–women who don’t want women to have the right to vote. It’s more than a fight over politics; it’s a debate over the role of women and girls in society, and whether they should be considered equal to men and boys.
Over the course of one boiling-hot summer, Nashville becomes a bitter battleground. Both sides are willing to do anything it takes to win, and the suffragists–led by brave activists Carrie Catt, Sue White, and Alice Paul–will face dirty tricks, blackmail, and betrayal. But they vow to fight for what they believe in, no matter the cost.
Fair Labor Lawyer: The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate Bessie Margolin
Through a life that spanned every decade of the twentieth century, Supreme Court advocate Bessie Margolin shaped modern American labor policy while creating a place for female lawyers in the nation’s highest courts. Despite her beginnings in an orphanage and her rare position as a southern, Jewish woman pursuing a legal profession, Margolin became an important and influential Supreme Court advocate. In this comprehensive biography, Marlene Trestman reveals the forces that propelled and the obstacles that impeded Margolin’s remarkable journey, illuminating the life of this trailblazing woman.
Raised in the Jewish Orphans’ Home in New Orleans, Margolin received an extraordinary education at the Isidore Newman Manual Training School. Both institutions stressed that good citizenship, hard work, and respect for authority could help people achieve economic security and improve their social status. Adopting these values, Margolin used her intellect and ambition, along with her femininity and considerable southern charm, to win the respect of her classmates, colleagues, bosses, and judges — almost all of whom were men. In her career she worked with some of the most brilliant legal professionals in America.
A graduate of Tulane and Yale Law Schools, Margolin launched her career in the early 1930s, when only 2 percent of America’s attorneys were female, and far fewer were Jewish and from the South. According to Trestman, Margolin worked hard to be treated as “one of the boys.” For the sake of her career, she eschewed marriage — but not romance — and valued collegial relationships, never shying from a late-night brief-writing session or a poker game.
But her personal relationships never eclipsed her numerous professional accomplishments, among them defending the constitutionality of the New Deal’s Tennessee Valley Authority, drafting rules establishing the American military tribunals for Nazi war crimes in Nuremberg, and, on behalf of the Labor Department, shepherding through the courts the child labor, minimum wage, and overtime protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. A founding member of that National Organization for Women, Margolin culminated her government service as a champion of the Equal Pay Act, arguing and winning the first appeals. Margolin’s passion for her work and focus on meticulous preparation resulted in an outstanding record in appellate advocacy, both in number of cases and rate of success. By prevailing in 21 of her 24 Supreme Court arguments Margolin shares the elite company of only a few dozen women and men who attained such high standing as Supreme Court advocates.