Who Is Hillary Clinton?
When Hillary Rodham was thirteen years old, she wanted to become an astronaut. It was 1961. In one of his speeches, President John F. Kennedy promised that American astronauts would land on the moon by the end of the 1960s. Hillary dreamed of flying into outer space.
The idea was exciting and challenging, and that made Hillary want to do it even more. Hillary was not afraid of doing things few people had tried. So she wrote a letter to NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). NASA is in charge of the United States’ space program. She asked what she needed to do to become an astronaut.
Several weeks later, a letter came. It read: “We’re not interested in women astronauts.”
How could this be? Hillary was as smart, if not smarter, than any boy at school. She played softball with the boys. Why did being a girl matter?
“It was the first time I had hit an obstacle I couldn’t overcome with hard work and determination, and I was outraged,” said Hillary.
But when Hillary was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, women faced many obstacles. They didn’t have nearly the number of career choices that women do today. Back then, if a woman worked outside the home, she was usually a secretary, nurse, or teacher. Back then, women couldn’t even buy a house or open a bank account in their own name. Society treated women as weaker and less intelligent than men.
Hillary promised that she would never let being a girl stop her from anything.
In April of 2015, she announced that she would run for president in 2016. It was the second time she decided to try to become the leader of the United States. And she was determined to win. Although she never became an astronaut, she has never stopped reaching for the stars.
Chapter 1: Standing Up for Herself
Hillary Diane Rodham was born on October 26, 1947, in Chicago, Illinois. Her dad, Hugh, owned a small business that made curtains. Her mother, Dorothy, stayed at home, taking care of Hillary and her two younger brothers, Hugh Jr. and Tony. Dorothy Rodham was a strong, loving woman, but she felt there had been many limits on what she could do with her life. She wanted more for her daughter.
When Hillary was three years old, her family moved to a brick house with a big backyard in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge. There were forty-seven kids in her neighborhood! Front doors were left open, and kids ran in and out of everyone’s houses. People often called Hillary a tomboy. She loved playing softball and basketball, going swimming, and ice-skating on a nearby pond with her friends.
One day the kids on the block wouldn’t let her play with them. Hillary ran home in tears. But her mother wouldn’t let her in. “You have to stand up for yourself,” her mother told her. She sent Hillary back outside. Hillary was scared. But she did stand up for herself—and it worked! After that, she was included in every game.
Hillary’s father pushed her to do her best. “Can you do better than that?” he’d say. Hillary didn’t mind. Unlike other fathers of girls, he never treated Hillary differently from her brothers. He taught her to throw a football, switch-hit in baseball, and take an interest in world events.
The Rodhams’ dinner conversations often turned to politics. “I learned that a person was not necessarily bad just because you did not agree with him, and that if you believed in something, you had better be prepared to defend it,” Hillary once wrote.
When Hillary was nine years old, some kids at school started staying she was “stuck up.” But that wasn’t true. Hillary had a secret. She often couldn’t see if somebody was talking to her because she had bad eyesight and didn’t like wearing her glasses.
But she needed her glasses, especially since Hillary loved to read. Every week she walked to the library with her mother. Her mother thought education was very important, especially for girls.
Hillary also loved being a Girl Scout, because she liked helping people. Near Hillary’s home, there were big farms. Migrant workers from Mexico came to pick the crops. Migrant workers move from state to state when different crops are ready to harvest. They work long hours for little money.
Hillary wanted to help them. She babysat for their children. But she wanted to do more. So she and friends held a carnival to raise money for the migrant workers. This was the beginning of Hillary’s life as an activist—someone who sees a problem and works to solve it.
Copyright © 2016 by Heather Alexander; Illustrated by Dede Putra. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.