American journalist, author and political commentator, Cokie Roberts sat down with Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), the longest serving woman in the United States Congress, dean of the Senate women, and the first woman to serve as Chair and Ranking Member of the US Senate Appropriations Committee, for a conversation on leadership.
The interview was recorded live to tape at the U.S. Senate Recording Studio on November 2, 2015, and covered several topics spanning the Senator's long and distinguished career.
For three decades, Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland has served in the U.S. Congress and been a strong supporter of women's issues.
Born in 1936, Barbara Mikulski grew up in East Baltimore as the daughter of a grocer. She graduated from Mount St. Agnes College in 1958 and earned a master's degree in social work from the University of Maryland in 1965. In 1976, she won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1986, Mikulski became the first female Democrat to win election to the Senate. She is currently the longest-serving woman senator.
For more than 30 years, Barbara Mikulski has served in the U.S. Congress, first as a representative and now as a senator. She broke the record for the longest-serving female senator in 2012, but she did not originally set out to become a politician. Growing up in East Baltimore, Mikulski first aspired to be a scientist after seeing a movie about French chemist and physicist Marie Curie.
Mikulski comes from a Polish, working-class neighborhood and inherited her can-do spirit and determination from her family. Both her grandfather and father were local shopkeepers. Her grandfather ran a bakery, and her father had a grocery store. Mikulski helped out with her father's store in addition to studying hard in school. She went an all-girls Catholic high school and then studied sociology at Mount St. Agnes College.
After completing her bachelor's degree in 1958, Mikulski then earned a master's degree in social work from the University of Maryland. She put her education work for the people of Baltimore, beginning in 1965. Toward the end of the decade, Mikulski became a community organizer, waging war against a 16-lane highway to run through East Baltimore. She brought different segments of the racially and ethnically diverse neighborhood together to stop the highway project. Her coalition, known as Southeast Council Against the Road, or SCAR, won their battle with city hall.
Cokie Roberts is a political commentator for ABC News, providing analysis for all network news programming. From 1996-2002 she and Sam Donaldson co-anchored the weekly ABC interview program "This Week". Roberts also contributes political analysis for National Public Radio. In her more than forty years in broadcasting, she has won countless awards, including three Emmys. She has been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame, and was cited by the American Women in Radio and Television as one of the fifty greatest women in the history of broadcasting.
In addition to her appearances on the airwaves, Roberts, along with her husband, Steven V. Roberts, writes a weekly column syndicated in newspapers around the country by U Click. The Roberts are also contributing editors to USA Weekend Magazine, and together they wrote Our Haggadah: Uniting Traditions for Interfaith Families, published in 2011. Their other book together, From this Day Forward, an account of their now more than forty-five year marriage and other marriages in American history immediately went onto The New York Times bestseller list. It followed Cokie Roberts's number one bestseller, We Are Our Mothers' Daughters, an account of women's roles and relationships throughout American history. Roberts histories of women in America's founding era--Founding Mothers, published in 2004 and Ladies of Liberty in 2008, also became instant bestsellers.
Cokie Roberts holds more than twenty honorary degrees, serves on the boards of several non-profit institutions and President Bush appointed her to his Commission on Service and Civic Participation. In 2008 the Library of Congress named her a "Living Legend," one of the very few Americans to have attained that honor. She is the mother of two and grandmother of six.