Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women's Rights (A Lady Has the Floor)

Lady Has the Floor:  Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women's Rights     (A Lady Has the Floor)

Written in the same vein as the recent best-selling titles I DISSENT and SHE PERSISTED, here is a nonfiction picture book biography of Belva Lockwood, a lawyer, activist and presidential candidate who devoted her life to overcoming obstacles and demanding equality for women.

Activist Belva Lockwood never stopped asking herself the question Are women not worth the same as men? She had big dreams and didn't let anyone stand in her way--not her father, her law school, or even the U.S. Supreme Court. She fought for equality for women in the classroom, in the courtroom, and in politics. In her quest for fairness and parity, Lockwood ran for President of the United States, becoming the first woman on the ballot. In this riveting nonfiction picture book biography, award-winning author Kate Hannigan and celebrated artist Alison Jay illuminate the life of Lockwood, a woman who was never afraid to take the floor and speak her mind.--from the publisher

32 pages   978-1629794532   Ages 7-10


Belva Lockwood grew up on a farm in upstate New York where she wasn't afraid "of snakes or rats or nothing."  She grew up to prove that.  Ignoring her father, she packed up and went to college, fought for a girl's right to take public speaking and physical education classes and went on to get into law school, graduate and fight to get her diploma.

In 1879 she became the first woman to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, turned her eye on getting the vote for women, and ran as a candidate for the U.S. presidency.

A story of a gutsy woman who knew no limits and expected none, told through the voice of story that makes her feel like a bit of a tall tale heroine.  Wonderful to introduce her to our girls and our boys so they can understand the path of gender equality.

Would make a great pairing with Girl Running.

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge,


“This is my fight song Take back my life song Prove I’m alright song My power’s turned on Starting right now I’ll be strong I’ll play my fight song And I don’t really care if nobody else believes ‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me” --Rachel Platten (2015)

“An attorney now, Belva helped poor widows, Civil War veterans, and freed slaves fight for what they deserved. But certain high courts refused to let women lawyers argue. Bang, bang! sounded the gavel. SIT DOWN! shouted the judge. Belva protested to the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the land. The justices there told her what she’d already heard before: No women allowed! Belva refused to be silenced. Belva battled for a women’s right to practice in any court.’Nothing was too daring for me to attempt.’ Over five years she drafted new rules, lobbied congressmen to her side, and argued for equality. In 1879, Belva won! Standing tall before the marble columns and the nine black-robed justices, Belva filled the chamber of the Supreme Court—for the first time in America’s history—with a woman’s voice.”

Today was International Women’s Day. To commemorate the event, The New York Times published a piece entitled “Women We Overlooked in 167 Years of Obituary Writing.” The Times included fifteen women in the article, all fine choices including Ida Mae Wells, Charlotte Brontë, Ada Lovelace, and Emily Warren Roebling.

The Times could well have also included Belva Lockwood. I know that from reading the illuminating picture book, A LADY HAS THE FLOOR by Kate Hannigan and Alison Jay.

Alison Jay’s illustrations, with their crackle-varnish finish, have such a distinctive style that, from a mile away, you can tell that a picture book is her work. I’m very fond of her style, and was drawn to this book in the Women’s History display of my local independent bookstore. Reading it, I was excited to discover one more great woman hero in our national history.

Starting on a farm in upstate New York, Belva Lockwood’s journey involved a lot of men telling her no. Women are better off today thanks to Belva Lockwood refusing to be deterred. Ms. Lockwood spoke out for equal pay as a teenage teacher who was paid half the wages of her male counterparts. She later fought to get into college and then fought for equal opportunities for the few women there. (You’ll be astounded by the jaw-dropping details.) She then fought to get into law school and fought for equal opportunities for women there, too.

Are you starting to get the picture? This lady really stood up for herself and was one helluva fighter for women’s rights.

Many of Alison Jay’s wonderful illustrations include quotes from Belva Lockwood. The source of each quote is listed in the extensive backmatter.

You’ll enjoy meeting Belva Lockwood. Perhaps The Times will include her in next year’s commemoration.

Recommended by: Richie Partington, MLIS, California USA

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