Last spring, the National Archives Foundation Board voted to present the 2019 Records of Achievement Award to Cokie Roberts in recognition of her work as a journalist, political commentator, and historian. With her untimely passing, last night’s award ceremony was, instead, a tribute program honoring her life and legacy.
Cokie dedicated her life to learning about and telling us the stories of women and their roles in our founding and in our government. Her work extended far beyond the scope of well-known politicians and suffragists, often looking to ordinary women and their influence. She did so much to highlight the contributions of other women, it was a privilege to honor Cokie for her many contributions at the National Archives. This past summer she graciously agreed to give the keynote at our annual Fourth of July celebration. Her remarks brought attention to the forgotten women who helped contribute to independence and ultimately the right to vote. In 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams, urging him to “remember the ladies,” and Cokie was determined to remember them as well.
As a member of the National Archives Foundation Board, Cokie worked tirelessly on behalf of our education and outreach activities. Her wise counsel, intelligence, wit, and passion for the role of women in our society will be missed—but never forgotten.
Over ten years together, Cokie and I often found ourselves in the Rotunda of the National Archives where the conversation turned to the Barry Faulkner murals depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Cokie ALWAYS bemoaned the fact that there were no women depicted.
In Cokie’s honor, last night Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Martha Washington, and Eliza Hamilton joined the ranks through the magic of projection technology. The National Archives Foundation commissioned Port Townsend (WA) artist Samara King to bring equality to the murals for the evening.
Cokie would have loved it!