A women's tea for Nancy and Ann

The first woman speaker of the House remembers one great Texan who paved her way ... and we don't mean George W. Bush!

By Katharine Mieszkowski
Published January 3, 2007 11:57PM (EST)

Some Broadsheet letter writers gave us a drubbing for omitting the sad loss of Ann Richards from our 2006 year-end roundup. Be assured, the famous feminist Texas governor is not forgotten here, or on Capitol Hill, for that matter. Richards' memory was honored Wednesday in Washington at a women's tea celebrating the ascension of Nancy Pelosi as the first female speaker of the House. It's a shame that Richards, who championed American women assuming a greater role in politics, didn't live to see Pelosi take charge this week. Richards died of esophageal cancer last September at the age of 73.

At the tea honoring Pelosi and Richards, 1,000 women paid $1,000 each to see Pelosi speak, while quaffing champagne and eating strawberries and petit-a-fours, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Richards' eldest granddaughter, Lily Adams, 19, who is a freshman at Brandeis University, told the crowd: "I know that wherever my grandmother was on Nov. 7, she enjoyed [the elections] more than anybody else."

Back in the early '90s, when Richards became the first woman in half a century to serve as governor of Texas, she celebrated by holding up a T-shirt that showed the State Capitol and read: "A woman's place is in the dome." Guests at Wednesday's tea with Pelosi each received a button with the speaker-to-be's face superimposed over the image of Rosie the Riveter, accompanied by the slogan: "A woman's place is in the House ... as Speaker!"

Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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