8 First Ladies Who Kicked Ass
First Lady Helen “Nellie” Herron Taft (1909 – 1913)
Nellie Taft was radical in ways that we take for granted today. She was the first presidential spouse to ride a vehicle in the Inaugural Parade with her husband, viewed by many as showing her support for the suffragette movement. During her time in the White House, she hired black men as uniformed ushers, a prestigious position reserved only for whites. She also lifted the ban on divorced people, who were previously shirked from White House event guest lists. She was also pals with Walter Loving, a musician and African-American composer. Nellie even drew criticism when she announced that she would allow alcohol to be served at events, but she didn't back down, even when facing bad press and protests. An early proponent of unions, she was elected women's division honorary national chair of the National Civil Federation, where she stumped for workplace reforms and fairness.
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