My decision to go the Yale law school was an expression of my belief that the system could be changed from within. When I entered Yale in the fall of 1969, I was one of twenty-seven women out of 235 students to matriculate. This seems like a paltry number now, but it was a break through at the time and meant that women would no longer be token students at Yale. While women’s rights appeared to be gaining some traction as the1960s skittered to an end, everything else seemed out of kilter and uncertain.
White, middle-class anti-war activists were found plotting to build bombs in their basements. The non-violent, largely black civil rights movement splintered into factions, and new voices emerged among urban blacks belonging to the Black Muslims and Black Panther Party. As domestic spying and counterintelligence operations expanded under the Nixon Administration, it seemed, at times, that our government was at war with its own people.
On April 30, President Nixon announced that he was sending U.S. troops into Cambodia, expanding the Vietnam War.
Then, on May 4, National Guard troops opened fire on students protesting at Kent State University in Ohio. Four students were killed. I remember rushing out the door of the law school in tears and running into Professor Fritz Kessler, a refugee who fled Hitler’s Germany. He asked me what the matter was and I told him I couldn’t believe what was happening; he chilled me by saying that, for him, it was all too familiar.
True to my upbringing, I advocated engagement, not disruption or “revolution.” On May 7, I kept a previously planned obligation to speak at the convention banquet of the fiftieth anniversary of the League of Women Voters in Washington, D.C. I wore a black armband in memory of the students who had been killed.
The keynote speaker at the League convention was Marian Wright Edelman, whose example helped direct me into my lifelong advocacy for children.
A few months later, Marian spoke at Yale. I introduced myself to her after wards. The summer of 1970, the Law Student Civil Rights Research Council gave me a grant, which I used to support my working at the Washington Research Project Marian had started in Washington, D.C.
Marian assigned me to do research on the education and health of migrant children. I had some limited experience with migrant children who had attended my elementary school for a few months each year and with others my church had arranged for me to baby-sit when I was about fourteen years old. Every Saturday morning during harvest season, I went with several of my Sunday school friends to the migrant camp, where we took care of the children under ten while their older brothers and sisters worked in the fields with their parents.
I got to know one seven-year-old girl, Maria, who was preparing to receive her First Communion when her family returned to Mexico at the end of the harvest. But she wouldn’t be able to mark that passage unless her family saved enough money to buy her a proper white dress. I told my mother about Maria, and she took me to buy a beautiful dress. When we presented it to Maria’s mother, she started crying and dropped to her knees to kiss my mother’s hands. My embarrassed mother kept saying she knew how important it was for a little girl to feel special on such an occasion. Years later, I realized that my mother must have identified with Maria.
Although these children lived harsh lives, they were bright, hopeful and loved by their parents.
But as I conducted my research, I learned how often farm workers and their children were―and still too often are―deprived of basics like decent housing and sanitation.
When I returned to Yale for my second year in the fall of 1970, I decided to concentrate on how the law affected children. I realized that what I wanted to do with the law was to give voice to children who were not being heard.
My first scholarly article, titled “Children Under the Law,” was published in 1974 in the Harvard Educational Review. It explores the difficult decisions the judiciary and society face when children are abused or neglected by their families or when parental decisions have potentially irreparable consequences, such as denying a child medical care or the right to continue school. I come from a strong family and believe in a parent’s natural presumptive right to raise his or her child as he or she sees fit.
But in New Haven, I saw children whose parents beat and burned them; who left them alone for days in squalid apartments; who failed and refused to seek necessary medical care. The sad-truth, I learned, was that certain parents abdicated their rights as parents, and someone―preferably another family member, but ultimately the state―had to step in to give a child the chance for a permanent and loving home.
I thought often of my own mother’s neglect and mistreatment at the hands of her parents and grandparents, and how other caring adults filled the emotional void to help her.
Who would have predicted that during the 1992 presidential campaign, nearly two decades after I wrote the article, conservative Republicans like Marilyn Quayle and Pat Buchanan would twist my words to portray me as “anti-family”? Some commentators actually claimed that I wanted children to be able to sue their parents if they were told to take out the garbage. I couldn’t foresee the later misinterpretation of my paper; nor could I have predicted the circumstances that would motivate the Republicans to denounce me. And I certainly didn’t know that I was about to meet the person who would cause my life to spin in directions that I could never have imagined.内容来自 听力课堂网：http://www.tingclass.net/show-8049-225093-1.html