If you want to read about a relentless woman who was ahead of her time, read Eunice, The Kennedy Who Changed the World by Pulitzer-prize winner Eileen McNamara.
I remember my mother telling me that she credited Mrs. Shriver for single-handedly changing the world for people like my brother. This is mentioned in my book, Jimmy and Me, A Sister’s Memoir.
Like many people, I knew that Eunice created Special Olympics but I did not know she was a tireless advocate for incarcerated women, pregnant teens, juvenile delinquents, and other citizens who were marginalized decades ago.
Most notably, you’ll read about her inexhaustible drive to bring individuals with intellectual disabilities out from the shadows of society. She lobbied her brother, President John F. Kennedy, for legislation to support these special citizens. Less than a month before his assassination in 1963, he signed the Maternal and Child Health and Mental Retardation Planning Amendment to the Social Security Act, which would grant $265 million in federal aid.
In the four decades after the death of JFK, Eunice would successfully lobby countless members of Congress and business executives to finance educational, vocational, and recreational programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities. She simply would not take no for an answer.
The biography details Eunice’s early life at a convent school, college years at Stanford, her work at the State Department, and copious travels abroad. It describes the relationships with her parents, siblings, husband, and children, and her devotion to the Catholic faith (she considered becoming a nun).
Eunice was a force of nature. I admire her even more after reading this book.