Women at the DNC recall the power of watching Hillary Clinton make history

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·White House Correspondent
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Teenager Victoria Sanchez talks to reporters following Hillary Clinton's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention on July 28, 2016. (Photo: Hunter Walker for Yahoo News)
Teenager Victoria Sanchez talks to reporters following Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention on July 28, 2016. (Photo: Hunter Walker for Yahoo News)

PHILADELPHIA — Hillary Clinton made history Thursday evening when she became the first woman to accept the presidential nomination from a major political party. Women who were there in Philadelphia to watch the moment talked to Yahoo News about what it meant to them.

Several described the experience as “overwhelming” and framed it as not just a victory for their fellow Clinton supporters, but a win for all women.

Famed attorney Gloria Allred was a California delegate. As she sat on the convention floor before the acceptance speech, Allred said that Clinton’s nomination would expand the possibilities for women “in every area of life.”

“It really is a signal to our daughters that not only can they reach the highest position of power in the nation, if not the world, but that they can achieve as well in business, in sports, in every area of life — that they will be treated based on their merits rather than on their gender,” Allred explained. “It means the breaking of quite a few stereotypes about women, so it’s really very significant.”

Allred wore a necklace with a photo of some of the early women’s suffrage activists. She also sported a vintage button from the 1970s campaign to pass the Equal Rights Amendment for women. Allred said it was important for her to view Clinton’s nomination in a historic context.

“I’m feeling very emotional because these women fought to win the right to vote — from 1848 to 1920. It took us 72 years to win that right, and now we’re looking forward to people voting for a woman,” said Allred as she clutched her necklace. “This is an ‘herstoric’ day, and it’s the fulfillment of what we’ve been saying in the women’s rights movement for so many years, that a woman’s place is in the house, the White House.”

Allred said Clinton’s nomination would be the beginning of a “fight to make that a reality.”

“No one’s ever given us our rights. We’ve always had to fight for them, and we’re going to fight for Hillary,” the attorney said.

Allred’s law firm specializes in women’s rights. She played a major role in the 2012 presidential election when she represented a woman who accused Republican candidate Herman Cain of sexual harassment. Cain, who was briefly the frontrunner, eventually suspended his campaign in December 2011 amid accusations from multiple women. In 2012, Allred battled the current Republican nominee, Donald Trump. She represented a transgender woman whom Trump’s Miss Universe organization barred from competing in a Canadian pageant because of her gender identity. The organization changed its rules, and the woman was allowed to compete.

On the convention floor, Allred hinted she could mount another battle against Trump during this campaign.

“Let’s just say that women know where to find me, and I know that Donald knows that women know where to find me, and that I’m always open to listening or hearing what they have to say and seeing if I can help,” Allred said, adding, “We’ll see.”

California delegate Robin Tyler, 74, was seated near Allred ahead of Clinton’s speech. Tyler was joined by her wife, Diane Olson, 63. The couple were the original plaintiffs in the California Supreme Court lawsuit that paved the way for same-sex marriage in the state. Tyler said being in the room to watch Clinton accept the nomination was “overwhelming.”

“Once she got nominated … I was at a loss for words. I am so emotional over this. We come out of the feminist movement. The fact that Hillary Clinton has survived what they’ve thrown at her all these years, the horrible misogyny … and she still thrived,” Tyler said. “She’s a tremendous heroine to us, and she’ll make a great president. … I know so many feminist people that are here that worked for decades, and finally our moment has come.”

Olson also predicted that a victory for Clinton would not just benefit women.

“It is called Mother Earth for a reason, and here we are,” Olson said. “I believe that possibly, as women, we can turn things around because we get things done a little differently.”

After Clinton’s speech, 16-year-old Victoria Sanchez stood in the stands weeping. Sanchez, a New Hampshire resident, volunteered for Clinton’s campaign there.

“This is more than I ever could have imagined. I’ve been volunteering for her campaign for over a year now, and after losing New Hampshire, for me this means that I can do anything I want,” Sanchez said as tears streamed down her cheeks.

Sanchez, a high school student, was clearly emboldened by Clinton’s success.

“I want to go into politics, but up until this point, it just didn’t seem realistic with our history,” she explained. “Now I know that I have just lived history and I can follow in her footsteps. … This changes my entire life.”

Attorney Gloria Allred on the floor at the Democratic National Convention. (Photo: Hunter Walker for Yahoo News)
Attorney Gloria Allred on the floor at the Democratic National Convention. (Photo: Hunter Walker for Yahoo News)

As the crowd poured out of the Wells Fargo Center, Yahoo News spoke to a 23-year-old from France who is working in the U.S. as an au pair. The woman suggested Clinton’s victory could have repercussions around the world.

“For me, it’s something important because the United States is a big country and a cultural influence on the international level,” she said in French.

Outside the arena, a New Yorker from Argentina named Luz Maria Utrera also said that Clinton’s nomination would have international significance.

“For me, it means everything because I think Hillary will be a role model, not only here in the United States. All over the world she will break all the barriers for women,” Utrera said. “It’s an amazing moment that we are living here. Really it’s like living in a dream. I am from Argentina, but I will become a citizen soon, so I’m so happy about it.”

An African-American woman from California briefly talked to Yahoo News as she ushered her granddaughter out of the arena. She said the experience was equally significant to seeing Barack Obama become the first African-American president.

“If you look at our presidents and they’re all older Caucasian men, it’s hard for girls to envision themselves being in that position,” she said. “So, now we have that, and I’m happy that we have that. I mean, my granddaughter, that’s why she’s here. She’s 13. I brought her with me just so she could experience this.”

The historic moment: Hillary Clinton accepts the nomination on the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention. (Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage)
The historic moment: Hillary Clinton accepts the nomination on the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention. (Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage)

A group of four women who work with the women’s rights group UniteWomen.org left the arena with their arms full of Clinton posters and signs. Karen Teegarden, the group’s president, echoed the view that Clinton’s nomination would also help men.

“It’s not just about a woman succeeding in this way, but the fact that when women do succeed, it affects everyone, so everyone benefits from this,” Teegarden said.

Another member of the group, Shannon Fisher, said watching Clinton was “very much more emotional than I thought it was going to be.

“I started to get butterflies in my stomach, and then, when Hillary came out, I just looked at her,” Fisher recounted. “It was like a mirror because it was the first time that I looked and could see myself, not myself personally, but that it was possible for someone like myself to be in that position. I just thought, ‘This changes everything.’”

Sandy Ashcraft, 43, who is also part of UniteWomen.org, said she “never expected this to happen in my lifetime.”

“When Hillary said, ‘I accept the nomination,’ I was almost overwhelmed,” said Ashcraft. “The woman I was sitting next to, we were grabbing each other’s hands and going, ‘I can’t believe I’m seeing this.’ I wanted this so badly, but I can’t believe it’s really happening.”

Chris Sagona, another member of the group, said Clinton’s nomination left the world “a different place.” However, she noted, Clinton’s winning the Democratic primary is just part of the way toward electing a woman president.

“The world is a different place as of right now because we can no longer be a nation that never had a women nominee,” Sagona said. “We’ve taken one step closer to breaking up the all-male presidents’ club.”

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