After a decisive victory in New Jersey’s primary election on Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton took the stage at the Duggal Greenhouse in New York. As the crowd cheered, she noted the literal glass ceiling hovering above her and her supporters.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “We’re not smashing this one.”
Instead, Clinton smashed a different glass ceiling, by claiming a title she’s been chasing for nearly a decade: The first woman ever to clinch the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party.
Based on results from New Jersey and California, multiple news outlets reported on Tuesday that Clinton would officially capture a majority of pledged delegates, and a majority of the popular vote.
Clinton’s speech contained several acknowledgments of the historic moment. She honored, for example, the women and men who organized America’s first drive for equal rights in Seneca Falls, New York, more than 150 years ago.
“Tonight’s victory is not about one person,” she said. “It belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible.”
The most personal moment, however, came when Clinton evoked her mother. Eight years ago in 2008, Dorothy Rodham had stood on the stage next to her daughter as she delivered a speech after losing her last primary to then-Senator Barack Obama. Three years later, Rodham passed away at the age of 92.
“This past Saturday would have been her 97th birthday, because she was born on June 4, 1919, and some of you may know the significance of that date,” Clinton said. “On the very day my mother was born in Chicago, Congress was passing the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. That amendment finally gave women the right to vote.”
“I wish she could see her daughter become the Democratic Party’s nominee,” she said.
Clinton’s presumptive nomination comes exactly 101 years after women gained the right to vote, and 100 years after the first woman was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Earning enough delegates to secure a major party’s presidential nomination was one of the last glass ceilings for women in politics. Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University, told ThinkProgress that the milestone was particularly important for the next generation of women with political ambitions.
“It’s possible that having [Clinton secure the nomination] might at least plant the seed for future generations that, hey, this is something that’s attainable,” she said. “The symbolic and role model importance of that cannot be overstated.”