BY DAVE FRENCH
My Mother, Donalda Roy, was born in the last month of the 1800s, the eldest child of nine. Her parents were French Canadians, who came to the US from Quebec in the 1870s. She graduated from high school in 1917, and entered Boston University as a member of the Class of 1921. Caught up in the turmoil prior to the enactment of the 19th Amendment, she was part of many meetings, parades, and protests. Either in the fall of 1917 or spring of 1918, according to family lore, a protest got “out of control.” She and several of her classmate friends were “detained” by the Boston police and spent the night as “guests” in the local jail. No charges were filed and she, and all of the others, were released the next morning.
She graduated in June of 1921 and immediately took a job with (B)oston (B)lacking Chemical Co, a precursor to the Cabot Corporation. As she spoke French and Spanish, and could read Portuguese and Italian with the aid of a dictionary, one of her responsibilities was to translate incoming correspondence in French and Spanish into English. Once when the gentleman who handled Portuguese and Italian was of the office, her supervisor was told of my mother’s other language skills. She was then given a collection of recent cables to translate, which she did. Following her third and fourth language translations, she asked for pay equal to that of the male translators. She was immediately fired for insubordination.
So, nearly 100 years later, the battle for equal pay for women still rages, and the hopes and expectations for major changes to come with the right to vote have yet to be fulfilled.