Today I will be telling you about Leonor Sullivan.
She probably was not someone that you grew up learning about, but she was a brilliant lady who came from “nowhere,” and accomplished something that many women of the time could only dream of. Leonor Sullivan was passionate about what she did, and that led her to becoming a remarkable congresswoman…She co-authored the Food Stamp Act, one f the most influential acts that is still greatly impacting everybody today.Opens on Leonor Sullivan sitting in a rocking chair.Hi, I am Leonor Sullivan. You might have heard of me, but if not, I will tell you a little bit about my life…I was raised in a family where money was not plentiful, I had seven other siblings beside myself, and I really had to “pinch pennies.
” I did not let that hold me back though. I made sure that I made it into college. My parents could not provide money for my education, so I had to work at a local telephone company and I took night classes at Washington University in Saint Louis. I majored on vocational psychology, or career counseling. Soon I began to instruct on business and accounting at the Saint Louis Comptometer School.
I remember those days, I loved teaching people about something that I cared about… They later made me the placement director at that school. Because of that, I became the director of the Saint Louis Business School. Then I met the love of my life, my husband John Berchmans Sullivan. He was a freshman Congressman that was also from St Louis. We got married on December 27, 1941, and I remember it like it was yesterday… I worked as his administrative assistant and campaign manager for five primary and election campaigns. During that, he was defeated twice, but he returned to office in the following election.
Then, my beloved died on Monday, January 29, 1951. I considered running for representative as well, but I was quickly shut down by Missouri Democratic leaders who denied me and said: “We don’t have anything against you, we just want to win.” So I decided that the only way to become a representative was to start from the bottom and work my way up, so that’s what I did. I became an administrative aide to Missouri Representative Theodore Irving. Meanwhile, the representative that the Missouri Democratic leaders chose lost to a Republican candidate, Claude I.
Bakewell. When I heard that news you can imagine how I felt, I thought that’d show them. They denied me, but the candidate they chose lost.
So in 1952, I declared that I was going to be running for my husband’s reapportioned district. I hate to sound egotistic, but I defeated 7 opponents, including the party-endorsed. running in the election using my husband’s name, “Mrs.
John B. Sullivan,” I defeated my Republican opponent, Bakewell, by means of a 2–1 margin, to earn a seat within the 83rd Congress. I wrote that “A woman with a woman’s viewpoint is of more value when she forgets she’s a woman and begins to act like a man.” Back then I thought that the only way I was going to be treated seriously was if I decided to start acting like a man. However, when I made it into Congress, I mainly wanted one thing; I wanted to protect consumers, especially the poor. I also once said “Those of us interested in consumer legislation could have caucused in an elevator.
” Almost nobody was interested in consumer protection, so I decided I had to do something about it. So I exhorted my colleagues to allow widows and working moms to withdraw money for childcare. Next, in 1957, I wrote the first Federal Poultry Products Inspection Act.
The Federal Poultry Products Inspection Act required the FSIS to check all birds when they were killed and made into food for people. You could see why I thought this was important, I wouldn’t want anyone to get sick because their chicken or turkey wasn’t fit to eat! “You are faced with an arena of supreme importance to the lives and health and safety and well-being of the American people — all of the foods we eat, all of the drugs and devices we use for health purposes, all of the cosmetics used not only by women but in increasing numbers by men, as well.” Then I resolved that I needed to do more for consumers, so