A Lady Has the Floor

Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women’s Rights

Written by Kate Hannigan, Illustrated by Alison Jay

“Are women not worth the same as men?” This is the question Belva Lockwood spent her whole life asking and answering. Born In New York in 1830, Lockwood took a teaching position at the age of 14 in a one-room schoolhouse. But when payday came, she was shocked to find her salary was half of what male teachers earned. This spurred her to challenge the status quo for women from then on. Against her father’s wishes, she set her sights on a teaching degree and graduated with honors from college in 1857. As a newly qualified teacher, Lockwood hated the way girls were not allowed to speak in front of schools or participate in physical activity. So she introduced public speaking, gymnastics, and nature hikes for both boys and girls. Eager to fight for justice after the Civil War, Lockwood applied to law school. Even though these doors were closed to women, she kept knocking and was finally admitted, graduating with her all-male peers. However, the school refused to give her the diploma she had earned. “I was not to be squelched so easily!” She wrote a letter to the president of the university, Ulysses. S. Grant, who was also the president of the United States, and demanded her diploma. Days later, it arrived with his signature on it. She was one of the first women in America to earn a law degree. Lockwood spent her life representing the poor, widows, veterans, Native Americans, and freed slaves in court. In 1879, she won the right for women to practice law in any court, including the Supreme Court. She even ran for president in 1884 on the Equal Rights ticket.

This book is a wonderful tribute to Belva Lockwood. Many of the pages have her quotes highlighted and some of the text is pulled out and enlarged for emphasis. With a folk art feeling, the illustrations complement the story beautifully. There is an author’s note at the back with a photograph of Lockwood, along with a timeline of her life that includes a picture of her 1884 campaign card. Belva Lockwood deserves to be a household name and this book could help accomplish that. Wonderful for discussions on women’s rights, suffrage, overcoming obstacles, and U.S. history.

Review by Andrea LeBaron, Upland Terrace Elementary Media Center
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: 2nd – 6th Grades

A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women's Rights
Written by Kate Hannigan, Illustrated by Alison Jay
Calkins Creek, an imprint of Highlights
32 pages
Release Date: February 10, 2018
A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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