Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died of metastatic cancer on September 18, 2020, was a leader whose words and actions changed the lives of women across generations. She changed our lives – and the lives of our alumnae, our students and our colleagues.
Born in 1933, Justice Ginsburg was a student and mother, a lawyer and teacher, a judge and a citizen whose example requires us to stop and take stock. She studied at Cornell, Harvard and Columbia. She taught at Rutgers and Columbia. She received honorary degrees from a variety of institutions – and is perhaps the only Supreme Court justice to be so recognized in popular culture and opera audiences. Known for her gift of friendship, her work ethic and her brilliance, she defined and redefined what legal scholarship could mean in our daily lives.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and legacy remind us of the importance of what Adrienne Rich once called “claiming” rather than “receiving” an education. In this, Ruth Bader Ginsburg in life – and now in death – reminds us of the incredible value of women’s education. She reminds us that passivity in the face of injustice is unacceptable and of the call to serve, to lead, and pursue justice. Whether we met her in classroom or courtroom, in film or dissent, she taught us in the vibrancy of her intellect and the intensity of her devotion to justice.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg changed each of our lives – building institutions that required us to value women, changing the world through litigation and judicial decisions that made clear that women’s rights are, indeed, human rights. She called us – and is calling us – to be better leaders and to be a better nation in which liberty and justice are for all.
At women’s colleges, we prepare women who lead, who change the world, who speak for themselves and stand for justice. Today, we mourn the loss of a life lived in service and celebrate an inspiration to us all.
Tomorrow – and always – we will honor this tremendous loss by pursuing the mission and dream of a world where justice flows down like water. We will all walk humbly, seek mercy, and act justly. And, we will educate women in pursuit of a more perfect union that values us all.
Women's College Coalition