Susan Reed

Susan E. Reed studied the Adamses as a Nieman fellow at Harvard. She has written about the current presidential campaign for The Boston Globe, The Financial Times, and The Independent on Sunday.

Recent Articles

Taking the Bull by the Horns

I n a dreamy, amber-filtered television commercial, Coline Jenkins-Sahlin, the great-great-granddaughter of the famous American suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, strolls down an autumnal path, talking about how she found resonance with a woman broker at Merrill Lynch. At the end of the TV spot, Jenkins-Sahlin recalls the words of that other great suffragist, Susan B. Anthony: "A woman must have a purse of her own." Merrill Lynch, the ad implies, is a champion of women. "I was so angry when I saw it," says Nancy Thomas, a broker who had worked for Merrill Lynch for more than 17 years and was one of the original eight women who filed suit against the company in 1996 for sex discrimination. "I wanted to call up Stanton's granddaughter and ask her what she thought she was doing." In 1998 the company agreed to settle the class action by mediating each claim individually, and more than 900 women--nearly a third of Merrill's female brokers--joined the class. But by the time the commercial...

Sisterhood was Powerful

When a history of civil disobedience moves us, it is because the writer is able to convey the human emotion at the heart of efforts to stand against the crowd. Ruth Rosen in The World Split Open captures the rage that both forged and tore the women's movement in the latter half of the twentieth century. It was the rage of women toward men who presumed them to be subordinates and sexual side dishes that compelled the women to start a liberation movement. It was the rage of men who thought women had nothing to complain about that made feminists increasingly strident, but also more demanding of their sisters to speak with one voice. As women expressed themselves, they found they had not one voice, but hundreds, thousands, causing the movement to fragment even as its influence, paradoxically, seeped into most levels of society. In vividly written passages, Rosen illustrates the level of antipathy toward women who tried to...

Taking It to the Web

For Coca-Cola, things don't go better with the Internet. Behind the story of the company's recent settlement of a $192.5-million lawsuit brought by black employees is a tale of how a few determined activists used the Internet to create a public relations nightmare for the soft-drink giant. When Larry Jones, a former Coke manager, founded the Committee for Corporate Justice, he did more than call for a boycott and organize rallies. He also set up a Web site: CorporateJustice.org . Jones posted, for all the world to see, the civil complaint containing the detailed allegations of discrimination at the firm. The site includes a list of the microscopic number of senior management positions held by blacks as well as something no company would want revealed: information on employees' salaries over a three-year period, grouped by skin color. For details like these, the average citizen used to have to go to the courthouse where the...

Why W. is Not Q.

B efore W., there was Q.--John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, the nation's second president. The Adamses were America's first political dynasty, and like Bush, Q. inherited his father's first name and a well-worn middle one from a favorite relative. But American dynasties aren't what they used to be. Where John Quincy Adams succeeded in becoming president 24 years after his father served, Bush may fail--and the difference will owe much to the level of independence each son was encouraged to pursue within the family, and the political value of that independence. From an early age, John Quincy was pushed to excel. His mother, Abigail Adams, who was largely self-educated (since women weren't formally educated at that time), taught him how to read and write. His father managed his education from the time John Q. was 11, beginning with a diplomatic mission to France. At the tender age of 14, the boy embarked upon a lifetime of service to this country when he accompanied Francis Dana,...

Bush's Wishful Reading:

President Bush announced that on his vacation this month in Crawford, Texas, he'd be reading David McCullough's new biography, John Adams . "I'm particularly paying attention to that part about John Quincy Adams," he told The New York Times . "You might remember, Quincy and I have got something in common." But as this October 23, 2000 American Prospect article, " Why W. is Not Q. " indicates, Bush the Younger may have less in common with the younger Adams than he might like to think. B efore W., there was Q.--John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, the nation's second president. The Adamses were America's first political dynasty, and like Bush, Q. inherited his father's first name and a well-worn middle one from a favorite relative. But American dynasties aren't what they used to be. Where John Quincy Adams succeeded in becoming president 24 years after his father served, Bush may fail--and the difference will owe much to the level of independence each son was encouraged to pursue...

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