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Remembering Journalist Cokie Roberts Who Died This Year

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The people we said goodbye to in 2019 include Cokie Roberts. The NPR journalist and leader died at 75 this year. It is fitting that we recall her at year's end because we have been marking anniversaries of milestones in women's right to vote. One of Cokie's last reports on NPR mentioned one of those milestones. Let's listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

INSKEEP: This week marks the 100th anniversary of a big moment in voting rights. The House of Representatives passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting women the right to vote.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no granting, no granting. We had the right to vote as American citizens. We didn't have to be granted it by some bunch of guys.

INSKEEP: OK. That, we should mention, is NPR's own Cokie Roberts correcting the introduction to this story. OK.

And that was Cokie in early 2019. Now, the year about to begin, 2020, marks one century since that constitutional amendment allowed women to claim their right to vote nationwide for the first time. As a reporter and analyst for more than 40 years, Cokie Roberts tracked women's slow progress in winning elected office.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

ROBERTS: This is painful for me, Steve, since I was one of the reporters always declaring the year of the woman when it wasn't. But 1984 we thought might be a year of the women. 1990 we thought might be a year of the women. But '92 actually was.

INSKEEP: In her later years, Cokie Roberts focused increasingly on the political roles of women from before her time, before the right to vote even, writing a series of popular histories.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROBERTS: I feel that, you know, writing history, leaving out half of the human race...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Exactly.

ROBERTS: ...Is really a distorted view of history. It's not accurate, and it's also terrible for any young person, but particularly a girl, to grow up thinking that women were not making tremendous contributions to the founding of the country and the continuation of the country.

INSKEEP: Year after year, Cokie Roberts made sure that nobody following her work could grow up thinking that. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.