Speech by SEC Chairman:
Remarks Before the Women's History Month Program
Chairman Christopher Cox
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
March 5, 2007
Good morning, and welcome to the Securities and Exchange Commission's Women's History Month program. In addition to SEC staff here and in our eleven field offices across the country, I am pleased to welcome some special guests: students from Gonzaga University High School and from Georgetown University Law Center. Thank you for being with us today.
Women's history and women's studies were in their incipient stages when I was a student in college. It was not until after I completed graduate school that a group of educators from my home state, in Sonoma County, California, held the first "Women's History Week" celebration. Their purpose, back in 1978, was to encourage schools to teach all children about this vitally important aspect of our history. Their idea gained traction, not just in California but across the country – spreading as a grass roots movement. Then, in 1981, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and Representative Barbara Mikulski of Maryland co-sponsored legislation formally recognizing Women's History Week as a national observance. In 1987, the National Women's History Project – a nonprofit organization founded by the same women who organized the first Women's History Week observance – successfully petitioned Congress to expand the national celebration to the entire month of March. Every year since then, a resolution designating National Women's History Month has been approved every year in both houses of Congress.
Here at the SEC, we have held educational programs to observe Women's History Month for many years. Our distinguished speakers have included the Honorable Sandra Day O'Connor, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; the Honorable Patricia Schroeder, my colleague in the House who, in addition to being a distinguished Representative from Colorado, was the first woman to serve on the Appropriations Committee; and women who have served as Commissioners and Acting Chairs of the SEC.
Today we are honored to have as our guest speaker a woman whose remarkable career as a journalist, broadcaster, author and advocate for Breast Cancer awareness has made her a national leader in several fields. I am talking, of course, about my friend Cokie Roberts.
As many of you know, Cokie grew up in congressional politics. Both her parents were members of Congress from Louisiana. At the time of his death in 1972 in a plane crash her father, Hale Boggs, was Majority Leader. Her mother, Lindy Boggs, succeeded him in representing the district, and was reelected seven times thereafter – almost always with more than 80% of the vote. It was my honor to serve with Lindy in the House, and also to be her guest in Rome when she served as Ambassador to the Vatican.
In an era when women did not have an easy time getting access to or exercising power, Cokie truly had a wonderful role model. She grew up spending half of every year in New Orleans and the other half here in Washington. Given her upbringing, it comes as no surprise that she chose a career in journalism focused on national politics.
Currently Cokie is a political commentator for ABC News, serving as an on-air analyst for the network covering politics, Congress, and public policy. She appears on ABC's World News Tonight and other ABC News broadcasts. She co-anchored the ABC News Sunday morning broadcast, This Week with Sam Donaldson & Cokie Roberts for six years. She is also a senior news analyst for National Public Radio, and was NPR's congressional correspondent for more than a decade.
Cokie's numerous awards for broadcasting include the Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for coverage of Congress, the Edward R. Murrow Award, and three Emmy Awards. She was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame in 2000. She received the National Association of Broadcasters' Distinguished Service Award in 2003. And American Women in Radio and Television cited her as one of the fifty greatest women in the history of broadcasting.
It is always nice to be recognized by your alma mater, and not surprisingly, Wellesley College honored Cokie in 1985 with its Distinguished Alumnae Achievement Award in recognition of "excellence and distinction in professional pursuits." In addition to her degree in political science from Wellesley, Cokie has received many honorary degrees. She serves on the boards of nonprofit institutions and the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation. And she is a relentless and articulate advocate for research to prevent and cure Breast Cancer – a disease that strikes one in every eight women. Cokie had already spoken at Breast Cancer Awareness Month events for a decade when she was diagnosed with the disease herself in 2002. Fortunately, she received effective treatment and today is one of the many thousands of breast cancer survivors leading productive lives.
Her special expertise in women's history extends beyond all of these life experiences to the books she's written. They should be required reading in any course on Women's History. The first is We Are Our Mother's Daughters and the second is Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation.
Cokie, we are very happy to have you with us here today. Please join me in welcoming Cokie Roberts to the SEC.