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Lilly Ledbetter and the “fight toward progress”

Sarah Berlenbach, Deputy Training Director

“I spoke up because it was wrong,” Lilly Ledbetter affirmed after I asked her how she found the courage to speak out when she discovered a pay discrepancy between her and her male counterparts.

Four years ago, it was not equal pay that prompted my involvement with then-Senator Obama’s election campaign. I knocked doors and made calls because of my conviction that health care should be affordable and accessible for all Americans, and that people like my father should be able to start a small business—like he did in 2003—without worrying about the implications for his family’s access to health care.

The passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act—the first bill President Obama signed into law—was a reminder that paycheck discrimination is not something that ended in my grandmother’s generation, nor in my mother’s; it is something that we need to actively fight to eliminate during mine.

It was a reminder that President Obama has my back.

The fight to eradicate discrimination did not start with Lilly Ledbetter, but it continues and can end with all of us as Americans. When she took action over a decade ago, it sparked action in countless others, and that initial action made all the difference. What if Lilly Ledbetter had underestimated the impact she could have?

She exemplifies the notion of ‘It Takes One,’ and the idea that one step forward can inspire another person to join us in the fight toward progress.

Now, four years later, Lilly Ledbetter’s story inspires me to stay involved in that fight toward progress—not only for the progress of women, but for the progress of all Americans.

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