Activist Daughters

If Bristol Palin’s activist resume is rather thin, there are notable famous daughters who made serious commitments and took risks to advance their views.  Certainly, they benefited from their parents’ visibility, but they also did their own activist work.

Amy Carter and Daniel Ellsberg, 1987examples of famous daughters who became real activists. I know nothing about their dancing abilities, but their commitments are well established.

Amy Carter, daughter of President Jimmy, grew up in the White House and attended public schools in Washington, DC.  During the 1980s, as a student at Brown University, then the University of Massachusetts, Amy was arrested several times protesting against apartheid in South Africa, United States involvement in military action in Central America, and CIA recruitment in Amherst, Massachusetts.  In November of 1986, for example, Carter and fourteen others were arrested for taking over a building at UMASS.  They presented a “necessity defense” at their trial several months later, arguing that the CIA’s violations of law represented an imminent harm that justified taking direct action.  Daniel Ellsberg and Howard Zinn testified, and the protesters were acquitted.  In recent years, Amy’s politics have been less public, although she illustrated a children’s book by her father, and serves on the board of the Carter Center.

Jenna Bush signing books

Jenna Bush grew up in the White House with her twin sister, Barbara, when father George W. Bush was president.   After graduating from the University of Texas, Jenna became a teacher at a charter school, but took a leave of absence to intern for UNICEF’ s Educational Policy Department in Latin America.  Jenna wrote Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope, about a young mother with AIDS in Paraguay, directing her share of the proceeds to UNICEF and to Ana.

With her mother, Jenna coauthored a children’s book to encourage reading, and has returned to a career as a teacher.

To date, neither Amy Carter nor Jenna Bush have tried to make a living from their political views, but have dedicated serious time to promoting their views on critical issues.  This is what activists do.  (Both dads, by the way, have consistently expressed pride.)

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About David S. Meyer

Author and professor of Sociology and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine
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