Camila Palma

John Burroughs High School | Burbank, CA | 11th

Inspirational Family Member
My Grandma Catalina

My grandma, Mama Cata was born on March 20th, 1932, and has always taken voting seriously, considering she was an immigrant from Mexico to the United States. Mama Cata was in her twenties when she decided to cross the border with her husband and raise a family of six. In her generation, the nineteenth amendment was still ripe, so she expresses great value to the liberties of all women and their right to vote.

My grandmother talks about her first experience of voting with great joy. She truly believes that every woman should experience the empowerment that comes with voting and participating in the government. She understands that most of her life, she was living in a man's world, but she is now very grateful for equal opportunities. While talking to her, I ask her how she feels about women’s rights. She responds by saying that, due to her upbringing in a family of fourteen, the idea of women having rights never crossed her mind. For the thought of having her own freedom was so unattainable, that she did not think about it because she did not want to slow herself down. Mama Cata and her seven sisters all had to work to help feed their ill mother. “Con una vida como esa, no tuve tiempo para pensar en libertades,” (With a life like that, I had no time to think about freedom) Mama Cata states. However, now that she is a citizen of the United States, her perspective on life has changed drastically. What she once thought was utterly intangible is now one of many rights included with her being a citizen.

Though it is hard for my grandmother to reflect on how far she has come, I am overly proud of her undying resilience and her beautiful mind. She stands tall with the millions of women beside her, and applauds those like Lucretia Mott, who dug their heels in the sand and fought for freedom.

Historical Figure I Admire
Lucretia Mott

Lucretia Mott was one of the outstanding women who truly paved the life we have now, with her bare hands. Born on January 3rd, 1793, in Massachusetts, Lucretia Mott was a powerhouse of a feminist and strongly advocated for the abolition of slavery. She also took the role of a helping daughter, by supplying and working to help her mother pay off debts after her father passed away. Mott was the type of woman to put her war paint on, and authentically fight for her values and passions. She was a Quaker, which meant that she was religious, and believed that all people were equal through the eyes of God.

In 1811, Lucretia Mott married the love of her life, James Mott, who supported her efforts every step of the way. Together they would have six children and raise them in Philadelphia. There really wasn’t one decade where she wasn’t fighting for what she believed in; In fact, in 1833, Lucretia Mott founded the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. To create and lead a foundation at this day and age was extremely controversial. It took strength and perseverance to stand up against the majority of people back then. In 1838, there were 17,000 protestors that burned down the Philadelphia Hall and attempted to burn Lucretia Mott’s house as well.

Despite the scary hardships, in 1840, Lucrettia Mott and her husband tried attending the World Anti-Slavery Convention, which took place in London. Unfortunately, Mott was reminded of the world she was living in, when she was denied her right to participate as a woman. This did not not slow her down, in fact, this motivated Mott to establish her own convention. Elizabeth Cady Stanton had joined Lucretia Mott hand-in-hand to help further this movement of equal opportunity. Together they created the Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. This convention emphasized the point that women should be equal in conditions of education, family and marriage, wages, and religion.

Frederick Douglass, a famous abolitionist who was very respected, attended the Women's Rights Convention. Mott was like a busy bee doing anything and everything she could to fight for the future. She had helped draft the Declaration of Sentiments (reworks of the Declaration of Independence), for which she was praised by her fellow companions. She did not stop there, as in 1850, Lucretia Mott assisted in the protection of slaves through the Underground Railroad.

Lucretia Mott was a woman who did not see gender or race, but person and soul, and continuously helped those who deserve better. She also valued education and thought it was important for all genders and races to seek the enlightenment of studies. In 1864, she, along with her husband, launched Swarthmore College in Philadelphia, which is now known to be one of the most sophisticated liberal arts colleges for both men and women. As a young woman living in the 21st Century, where I am given the right to education and participation in the government, it is clear to see that I owe it to the millions of women before me who allowed me to experience the blessed life I live today.

If it wasn't for Lucretia Mott, as well as many other women, and their abilities to get back up again and continuously fight, I would not be as liberated as I am. For that, I am speechless and appreciative for the women like Lucretia Mott who put their war paint on and gave it their all. 

What the Project Means to Me

By participating in the Women Leading the Way: Suffragists & Suffragettes project, I have truly traveled back in time and sat down in the passenger seat of the way of life for women. 
Researching Lucretia Mott broadened my perspective and taught me that anyone can achieve any goal as long as they keep fighting for it. To think that Lucretia Mott achieved advocating for women during a time when it was hard for them to even see the light, or think the light was possible. As Frank Sinatra once said, “Through it all, when there was doubt, I ate it up and spit it out, I faced it all, and I stood tall and did it my way.” Which is a quote I believe that all women at that time could relate to.

My grandmother is radiantly filled with joy for Lucretia Mott and all of her achievements. Mama Cata says that she will always value women like Lucretia Mott who stood up against the unknown and snatched equality for all to enjoy. Working for this project has shown me the beautiful and scary things that were, as well as show me how all of these women’s efforts have evolved. I live in a very different world than my grandmother and Lucretia Mott, and because of this, I can feel nothing but gratitude and appreciation.


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