The Legacy of RBG as Told by a Local Restaurant Owner

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By: Kamdyn Rhodes (Loyola Sophomore), Chris McDonald (Loyola Senior), Bill Brady (Loyola Junior), and Bina Wilens (Loyola Sophomore)

The late Supreme Court Justice passed away on September 18th, leaving behind tremendous change within American politics. RBG has fought deliberately for the rights of immigrants and women. 

According to a local restaurant owner, RBG had a personal connection to our community where her son, John Ginsburg, lives.

Stopping by Ethiopian Diamond (6120 N Broadway), the three of us enjoyed delicious Ethiopian food and a tender conversation with chef and owner, Almaz Yigizaw. Yigizaw recalls first being introduced to RBG by her son, who owns a non-profit music store in Edgewater and is a regular customer at Ethiopian Diamond. Over the years, John Ginsburg and Yigizaw have developed a friendship. 

“John is amazing; he comes here maybe twice a week.”

Looking back at her first meeting with the late Justice, Yigizaw detailed how the petite woman entered her restaurant, secret service in tow. Yigizaw was unaware of the significance of whom she was about to greet. She described how she learned more about RBG’s work after the spontaneous encounter; as an immigrant, Yigizaw was moved by RBG’s role in creating American policies. 

“I came from Ethiopia, our system is not as close[d] as here, but we have some laws…although I am a foreigner, I am very blessed to be here in the United States.”

After meeting RBG, Yigizaw began to research more about her impact on politics. She was surprised to find that men were not allowed the same paternity leave as women until the 70’s when RBG represented a man named Stephen Wiesenfeld. Wiesenfeld had become the primary caregiver of his son after his wife died in childbirth, forcing him to work fewer hours. However, he was denied the benefits offered to sole parental survivors by Social Security despite the benefits available to widows.

“Before she became a justice, there was no maternity leave for men as you have for women…She took that case to court.”

RBG forever changed policy on a national level and also amplified the voices of everyday Americans. She was resilient and meticulous; she inspired the masses. Her legacy has spread far and wide, even reaching our blocks of Edgewater. Yigizaw finished our conversation by reminiscing about Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s noble influence:

“I am a cook, I don’t read much, but her story is in my heart.”

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