Behind the Scenes: Hillary Clinton


Apr 12, 2015

Behind the Scenes: Hillary Clinton

"My mother told me I had a choice everyday to be an actor, the lead actor in my own life, or just a reactor to whatever everyone around me did."

We're proud to highlight the work of Hillary Clinton, a global champion for the rights of women and girls and an exemplary working mother. Click through the gallery to get to know the Wellesley grad, proud mother, and only First Lady in history to run for office.

Sources: Encyclopedia of Arkansas/ Images


Hillary Clinton was born October 26, 1947, in Chicago, Illinois. She grew up playing sports, attending public school, was a decorated Girl Scout, and dreamed of going into space with NASA, until they told her they didn't accept women. She was raised in a Republican household with her two younger brothers. 
Hillary attended Wellesley College in 1965 and was politically active, starting out in the college's Republicans club. A professor pushed her to intern with the House Republican Conference, headed by Gerald Ford, to help develop her political views. She realized from that experience that she was a Democrat and remained politically active through graduation, participating protests for Civil Rights and against Vietnam. Upon graduation she was featured in a Life Magazine article as an outstanding member of the class of '69. She was the first student in Wellesley's history to give the commencement address.
After college, Hillary attended Yale Law School where she met fellow student, Bill Clinton, in the library. The summer of 1972 they both worked on campaigns in San Antonio, Texas. After graduation Hillary worked with children's activist (and MAKER) Marian Wright Edelman in Washington D.C. as Bill went back to teach law in Arkansas. A few years later, though her friends doubted her decision, Hillary moved to Arkansas to be with Bill. Of the decision she has said, "I did it because it felt right for me... I was following my heart."
Hillary and Bill taught at the University of Arkansas Law School and she helped Bill with his early political career. They married in 1976 at their home in Fayetteville, Arkansas. In 1976 when Bill became Attorney General of Arkansas, Hillary worked at Rose Law Firm where she later became the firm's first female full partner. She also helped found the Arkansas Advocate for Children and Families. 
In 1978, Hillary aided Bill in his successful campaign for governor. Hillary had their daughter, Chelsea, in 1980 and calls her daughter "her most cherished accomplishment." In the 12 years she was First Lady of Arkansas, she worked as an attorney for major businesses like Wal-Mart and TCBY and served on the board of multiple nonprofits. In that time, she was named Arkansas Woman of the Year and Arkansas Young Mother of the Year.  
In 1992, Bill was elected President and as First Lady, Hillary Clinton began a weekly newspaper column, “Talking it Over," which focused on her experiences as First Lady and her perspective on women, children, and families she met around the world. She also published the book It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us, which won a Grammy Award in 1997 for her audio recording of it. 
As First Lady, Hillary continued her activism and gained attention for being outspoken and politically involved. She was the only First Lady to continue working once her husband was in office and became one of the most-traveled first ladies in history. She also earned a reputation and praise as an advocate for women. In 1995, she spoke at the UN Women's Conference in Beijing and recounted the abuses afflicting women globally, criticizing China for efforts to curb open discussion of women's issues. Here she coined the phrase "Women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights," which has become a rallying cry for thousands and an organizing principal of her career.
After her tenure as First Lady ended, Hillary Clinton successfully ran to represent New York in the US Senate in 2000. She was the first and remains the only former First Lady in history to run for public office. She was also the first woman elected statewide in New York. She chaired the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee and continued working for children and families by sponsoring or supporting legislation on the safety of children's prescription drugs, health insurance for children in low-income families, and addressing environmental hazards in schools.
In 2003, Clinton’s memoir, Living History, was published. It was the fifth bestselling hardcover nonfiction book that year, and the New York Times named it one of the bestselling paperbacks of 2004.
In early 2007, she announced her candidacy for President of the United States. The nomination process was a relatively even fight between her and Senator Barack Obama and stretched out until June. Though she lost, Clinton ended the presidential primary having received more votes than any other woman in history.
Hillary was an avid campaigner for Barack Obama and after he was elected, she looked forward to going back to being Senator of New York. When Obama asked her to be Secretary of State, she turned down the offer repeatedly, but her daughter, Bill, and close friends encouraged her to accept. She became Secretary of State in 2009.
In her four years as Secretary of State, she logged almost one million air miles and visited more countries than any other secretaries in history. She is known for being critical in the improvement of US foreign relationships in Obama's first term, particularly in Asia. She was the first secretary in 50 years to visit troubled Myanmar and met with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi (pictured), the democracy activist who had been recently released from house arrest. In her tenure, Hillary also continued her advocacy for women's rights all over the world.
Recently, Hillary released her book Hard Choices and is currently touring to promote it. She has received a lot of publicity and been interviewed by CNN, ABC, and other outlets about the Benghazi attack, her book, and her plans for the future.     
Supporters rallied around her potential candidacy, using the slogan "Ready for Hillary."
On April 12, 2015, Hillary announced her second run for President of the United States.
Wellesley College seniors had never before chosen a commencement speaker from their own ranks when Hillary Rodham stepped to the podium on the last day of May in 1969. Education, she said, must grant "the courage to be whole" and permit people to live "in relation to one another in the full poetry of existence." The speech received national attention and marked Rodham as a leading light for the young women of her generation.   By now, it's safe to say that the early promise has been borne out; had Hillary Rodham Clinton "merely" attended Yale Law, served on the staff of the Senate Watergate Committee, become a respected children's rights advocate, been the first female partner at her law firm, been a mother, and served as First Lady of Arkansas, we would think of her as a leader. And yet she has by now spent two additional decades at the very heart of the national consciousness — as a sometimes-embattled First Lady, as a distinguished senator from New York, as a groundbreaking 2008 Presidential candidate, and as the 67th Secretary of State. Clinton has outlasted the smears to top Gallup's "most admired woman in America" a record 16 times since 1993.   On April 12, 2015, Clinton announced she will run for president in 2016.   Clinton made history June 7, 2016 when she declared victory in the Democratic presidential primary, marking the first time a woman captured the nomination of a major political party in the United States' 240-year history.

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