First-ever female Secretary of State Madeleine Albright dies at 84

Emily Brennan

Managing Editor

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Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright died on Wednesday after a battle with cancer. She was 84 years old. Albright was known as one of the most powerful feminists and political diplomats in United States history. One of her biggest accolades is becoming the first-ever female Secretary of State in the country’s history – serving under President Bill Clinton’s administration from 1997 to 2001. In 1993 she became the United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations – changing the view of women's roles as diplomats forever. She did not become a citizen of the United States until she was 21 years old.


Albright and her family came to the U.S. when she was a young girl shortly after World War II, while fleeing from Communist Czechoslovakia. At 11 years old, she arrived at Ellis Island as a refugee, only later to become a U.S. Ambassador. Her career in politics began in 1972, campaigning for then-Senator of Maine Edward Muskie – who later on became Secretary of State himself.


During her time in office she advocated for the expansion of NATO all the way to the Russian borders, as she saw Putin’s rule as potential danger. Albright was the main reason Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic were able to join NATO forces. She advocated to stop the expansion of nuclear weapons also. Her approach to foregien policy was bipartisan, creating policies that would later guide countries around the world into a new era of peace. A controversial and crucial issue came up during Albright’s time in office: when and how is it appropriate for the U.S. to intervene and stop violence?


Albright became a national symbol, representing those who aspire to contribute to democracy. In a statement made by the White House on Wednesday, President Joe Biden expressed his condolences. “She spent the rest of her days defending freedom around the world and lifting up those [who] suffered under repression.”


“She was an immigrant fleeing persecution. A refugee in need of a safe haven. And like so many before her - and after - she was proudly American.”


Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton also reflected on Albrights passing. “Few leaders have been so perfectly suited for the times in which they served.” The Clinton Foundation said in a statement released Wednesday, “Hillary and I will always be deeply grateful for the wonderful friendship we shared and the unfailingly wise counsel she gave us over so many years.”


Albright made the first moves to inclusivity in the U.S., being the first person to make sure Ramadan was on the calendar. In 2012 President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Blazing international affair contributions wasn’t the only work in her lifetime. She spent 40 years as a professor at Georgetown University, aiding in training a new class of diplomats, as well as writing several books. Popular works written by Albright include, “Fascim: A Warning,” published in 2018.


Albright leaves behind three daughters – Alice, Ann and Katie, grandchildren, her brother John and her sister Kathy. Her legacy leaves a lasting impact on American democracy that will never be forgotten.


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