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September 19, 2020

‘RBG’ film traces Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s continuing fight for equality

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Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. To read the transcript of the video above, click here. 

Summary: “I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks,” states Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a new documentary about her life.

  • The documentary “RBG” follows Ginsburg’s roots, education, family life and career, along with her continuing fight for sexual, socio-economic and racial equality.
  • Ginsburg says at one point she felt like a kindergarten teacher when it came to instructing other judges about the meaning of sexual discrimination. She would ask them to reflect on how they’d like their daughters and granddaughters treated.
  • Ginsburg passed away in September 2020. This documentary was made a couple of years before her death, offering a clear view of her life and legacy.

Discussion questions:

  1. Essential question: What will it take for women to be seen as equal to men?
  2. What do you know about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg?
  3. Filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen said Ginsburg kept her composure during sexist exchanges throughout her career in order to educate others on important issues, including sexual equality. Can you think of a time in your life in which you kept calm in the face of adversity? How do you think this may have made a difference in how the conversation went?
  4. Why was it seen as a controversial move when Ginsburg criticized candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election?
  5. Media literacy: It’s impossible to sum up a person’s life in one film. Besides watching the documentary, how could you find out more about Ginsburg’s life?

Extension activity:

How did U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg become known as the “Notorious R.B.G.”? Ginsburg’s nickname is based on well-known rapper Biggie Smalls or “Notorious B.I.G.” (real name Christopher Wallace) who was killed in a drive-by shooting in 1997.

Watch this interview between Ginsburg and the late Gwen Ifill to find out. Listen particularly to Ginsburg talk about the role her husband played in her ascent to the bench and answer the following question:

Who is someone in your life who you believe will always remain in your heart and mind even though they may have passed away? How did they help you become the person you are today?

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