Introduction to award presentation
by David Sadker
I remember back in the early 1990s, when my late wife Myra, was
selected as one of Washington's 100 most influential women. She
came home to tell me about the exciting luncheon sponsored by Washingtonian
magazine. Part of that excitement was sharing lunch and conversation
with you, Connie. By the way, you share more in common with Myra
than just lunch. Connie was an English professor at Montgomery College,
and Myra was an English professor at Virginia State University.
You have received an MA degree from American University, and Myra
taught at American University. Both of you were discerning enough
to marry AU professors. Like Myra and myself, you and your husband
Tony raised a family in Bethesda. I must admit, however, that you
outdid us in the child rearing department. We worked overtime raising
two daughters; you raised three children of your own and, when your
sister passed away, you raised her six as well. And to balance the
stress of parenting, you acquired an unusual method of tension release:
you became a member of Congress.
Connie Morella is a very unusual Congresswoman. For starters, she
represents Maryland's Eighth Congressional District. I live in the
Eighth Congressional District. You may not be surprised to learn
that the 8th Congressional District is both liberal and Democratic.
As I said, I live in the Eighth Congressional District. If you haven't
yet noticed, Connie Morella is a Republican. She has been elected
to represent my district seven times. The reason is simple: Connie
Morella avoids putting party interests above her conscience or above
the interests of her constituents.
Since first taking office, Connie has focused on many issues, some
considered non-traditional for a female. Her work ranges from efforts
to enhance scientific research and development to promoting international
and human rights issues. She was the first woman to Chair the Arms
Control and Foreign Policy Caucus, and is considered a friend of
the environment. This evening, we will focus on her efforts on behalf
of equal opportunities for girls and women.
Congresswoman Morella, former co-chair of the Congressional Caucus
for Women's Issues, is recognized nationally for her work on domestic
violence, women's health, educational and economic equity issues.
She has established herself as a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS
in women with legislation focusing on research and prevention. She
represented the United States at the UN Conference on Population
and Development in Cairo and co-chaired the congressional delegation
to the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Because of
her efforts, she was inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of
Fame. Glamour Magazine honored her as a Woman of the Year
for "fighting for women's rights and winning." Last year,
the New York Times recognized her as "one of a dozen
who have risen to prominence" in women's health.
Congresswoman Morella has made education funding a top priority
during her tenure in Congress. She has worked to preserve programs
for displaced homemakers, single parents, and pregnant women, and
sponsored legislation to create campus-based child care centers
to enable low-income women to receive a college education.
Congresswoman Morella reintroduced the Advancement of Women in
Science, Engineering and Technology Development Act, which calls
for a review of career roadblocks for women, minorities, and the
disabled in science and technology and to develop effective and
productive policies that address their underrepresentation in these
fields. In some of these efforts she has been successful; in others,
the Congressional leadership of her own party thwarted her efforts.
But I must tell you, I admire not only her victories, but her efforts
even in losing causes. For those of us committed to educational
equity, both in and beyond Congress, these last few years have been
particularly difficult. For 350 years, America's girls have been
denied equal educational access. Now, after only 25 years of efforts
to level the playing field, the radical right contends that we have
gone too far. This position would be silly, if it were not dangerous.
These rights, so recently won, can be lost as well. There are only
two genders on the planet, surely that is not too much for us to
This past Fall, equity advocates around the country applauded as
the Congresswoman co-sponsored the Morella-Mink-Woolsey amendment
to save the small but symbolic federal funds working to build gender
equitable schools. The House leadership attempted to eliminate these
funds. Isn't it amazing that even in these times of unparalleled
economic boom, some believe that ANY money, no matter how small,
invested in women's programs, is simply too much. Connie and her
colleagues stood firm in support of America's school children. And
this time, they won and so did we.
Winston Churchill no stranger to tough times once
KITES FLY HIGHEST AGAINST THE WIND
CONNIE, THIS IS YOUR TIME TO SOAR!!!
Congresswoman Morella, on this eve of yet another primary, we are
so pleased that you chose to be with us. For all you have done,
it is our pleasure to thank you and to honor you with The Myra Sadker